Window Pains and Other Little Mistakes


It’s probably impossible to build a house without making any mistakes, especially when it’s your first time embarking on such a project. Although we have a great crew and I tried to be as thorough as possible, some mistakes have cropped up. Fortunately, they have been relatively minor ones, and not too costly either.

The first error that came to light was a mistake in the window order. During all the weeks I spent planning out where each and every window would go, how they would open (casement vs. double hung vs. awning), how high they would sit above the floor, and how wide they would be, I wrote down all the rough opening dimensions as H x W. Well, it turns out that the industry standard is W x H. So when I placed the order, I tried to make sure I reversed the dimensions for each window. I received a copy of the order, and I should have gone over it carefully to double-check each window, but I never got around to it.

When the framers started putting up the exterior walls, they took the rough opening dimensions from my order sheet, and it was then I discovered that two of the smaller windows had their dimensions reversed.

These two windows were supposed to be the same height. When I saw these rough openings I discovered the error in my window order.

These two windows were supposed to be the same height. Turns out the one on the right had been ordered with the height and width dimensions reversed.

By that time it was too late to change the order and we couldn’t make them fit where they were, so I had to order two replacements. I figured I could try to sell the incorrectly-sized windows, but the dimensions were a bit weird. However, I ended up finding a use for them. I’d ordered two big windows for each of the kids’ rooms, but when I saw them framed up it felt like too much window for such small rooms. So I replaced one big window in each kid’s room with one of the smaller incorrectly-sized windows. I was pleased with the results, and it had the added bonus of providing more wall space for furniture. And the bigger windows should be easier to sell as they are a more standard size.

The second mistake was actually made early on in the process, but I didn’t catch it until later. I wanted the slab foundation to be thermally isolated – surrounded on the bottom and all around the sides by rigid foam insulation. The stem walls of the foundation were designed with a little step on the inside, onto which the rigid insulation would sit. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication between myself, the project manager, and the framers and the step was not made deep enough.

The little step on the inside of the stem wall ended up 2" too shallow, but we were able to compensate with a slight change in plans.

This little step on the inside of the stem wall should have been 2″ deeper, but we were able to compensate with a slight change in plans.

After a brainstorming session, our project manager came up with a great idea that ensured the slab would be properly insulated all around, especially along the sides where a good deal of heat loss can occur. As a bonus, we were able to add another inch to the under-slab insulation(see this post for a detailed explanation of our solution).

The final error had to do with the roof trusses and my own lack of understanding of how they are built. I drew my design based on certain assumptions (that turned out to be incorrect) and, as a result, the dimensions I gave to the truss manufacturers were slightly off. The net result was twofold: first, the change in roof pitch (to give it that “farmhouse” look) happened a bit higher up on the roof than I would have liked. It’s one of those things that only the designer (me) would notice, but I was a bit depressed about it at first until I got used to it (now I think it looks fine).

IMG_0620 (1)

The change in pitch on the right side of this truss was supposed to take place where the guy in the red shirt is standing, rather than further up towards the peak.

The second consequence was that the roof overhangs ended up higher and shorter than I had wanted (I like big overhangs). But I was at least able to have them extend the overhang on the centre “pop-out” feature, and I’m very pleased with how that turned out. We’re even going to put some dummy rafter tails there to make it look like traditional exposed rafters.

with how it turned out!

We’re lucky that the mistakes were minor ones, and the added cost to fix them was relatively minimal. Hopefully my luck will hold out for the rest of the build!






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