August 08, 2020

Everyone wants a home that is sunnier and brighter, right?

After all, the sun streaming in through the windows not only lifts our mood and maximizes our connection to the outside world but also acts as passive solar.

The request is common among most new clients, “Can we get more light into my home?” When designing a new construction home, I always consider the solar orientation when placing the house on the lot, laying out the interiors, and placing windows.

A recent client requested to get more light into her kitchen by adding 3-4 windows and do an addition. The conflict was that she wanted the addition to be placed beyond the kitchen. I know that as the sun comes around the house the addition will block the sun. Yes, they will get passive light coming in and be able to see out the windows, but windows are expensive and I’m fairly certain that they will be frustrated with the results at the end of the project. By providing them with an interior perspective, I’m hoping to dissuade them from this decision.

What makes windows so expensive during a renovation?

  1. Siding – the exterior will need to be patched with new siding, trimmed out and painted.
  2. Drywall – the interior also has to be drywalled, mudded, trimmed, and painted.
  3. Framing – windows have a structural element to them so the wall is pulled apart to framing so that the header support can be installed.
  4. Windows – calculate basically $500 per average size/quality window.
  5. Installation – calculate roughly another $500 in labor to install the window.

When installing new windows into an existing home, there is always the risk that there will be water damage that should also be addressed whereas new construction is straight-forward.

New construction is a completely different story. We easily create a window schedule, they are purchased from this list and framed according to the rough openings while they wait for delivery. Installation is a fairly quick process at this point. Insulation and finish materials applied to the interior and exterior can be fast and efficient.

In the plans for the new construction home here, the top right of the property is north. My goal was to get as much sunlight in the kitchen as possible, so I moved the garage as forward as possible to allow the light to move around it as the light moves west. It doesn’t matter that the screen porch is on the north side and taking light away from the master bath since screen porches tend to naturally be dark and I’m trying to impact the living space as little as possible with the screen porch while still having it connected.

Remember to always consider how the sun moves from east to west in your home and maximize the sunlight coming in. And pay attention to your defined needs when considering an addition and how it will impact your current home.