After weeks and weeks of gathering information, hemming and hawing and trying to figure out what I really wanted, I finally managed to order windows for the tiny house today. The final trick was to go over to the Argonaut Window & Door in Cupertino so I could actually look at the different types of windows. As soon as I did that, it became clear what I wanted.
I ended up ordering the more expensive aluminum clad wooden windows, the same ones specified in my tumbleweed tiny house plans. They are the only ones with a natural wood finish on the interior which means that they are the only ones that will really match the wood theme I’m going to have in the interior of the house. They were more expensive, but in the long run I think I will be very happy to have them. I also considered vinyl windows which would have been much less expensive and even had a better warranty. However, they were not nearly as attractive. When I was in the store, it was striking how much prettier the interior woodwork was on the aluminum clad windows than the plastic looking vinyl windows that were full of obvious seams.
The downside of my windows is that they were pretty expensive. Here’s the total price tag:
- 24 x 36 windows for left and right side of house: 4 x $462
- 30 x 24 windows for rear of house: 2 x $405
- 17 x 36 windows for front of house: 2 x $409
- 12 x 24 pentagon shaped window for front gable: $567
- 17 x 36 sash to build into my front door: $285
Total with tax: $4707
I pretty much followed all of the specs in the tumbleweed plans:
- Jeld-Wen Tradition Plus Clad Awning style windows (open out, hinged at the top)
- Pine interior
- Aluminum exterior in Mesa Red.
- Folding handle.
- Interior hardware in the Desert Sand color.
- Bettervue interior screen that were both in the Desert Sand color.
- Insulated low-E tempered double pane glass
- Rated for high altitude.
I also received a quote from Sunnyvale lumber which was jaw dropping to say the least. They wanted $7300 for the exact same thing I got for $4700 at Argonaut. This was actually the first quote I got. Luckily, their quote was so ridiculous that I knew to look elsewhere.
Prior to getting in touch with Argonaut, I actually attempted to order windows through Home Depot. I think I went to Home Depot at least half a dozen times. Half of those times, there was nobody even available in the window department to help me. When somebody was available, I got help but I also got a lot of misinformation. When it comes to windows, there are simply too many things to understand and too many decisions to make. Unless you really know what you’re doing or you’re talking to somebody who really knows what they they’re doing, the process will at best be difficult and at worst will result in something that is not what you wanted or doesn’t even work. The quotes I did receive from Home Depot were about 5-6% lower than Argonaut. However, the service and support at Argonaut were well worth such a small premium in final cost.
One other thing worth mentioning here is the specialty window in the front gable. Tumbleweed specified a gothic style window that looked like this:
I actually love the way that window looks. Unfortunately, it was simply unaffordable. That one single window costs $2100. $2100!! Had I known how expensive this window would be before I built the gable, I might have created a different opening size for a more reasonably priced window. I’m actually somewhat surprised that Tumbleweed thinks anybody would put such an expensive window in a $20,000 tiny house. In my opinion, such an expensive window kind of defeats the purpose of building an economical tiny house. However, the window is very pretty. Maybe some people will really want it.
I ended up compromising and getting something that I think will look almost just as good and be only a fraction of the cost ($567 instead of $2444). Instead of the gothic, rounded top window, I ordered a direct set, pentagon shaped window that will look something like this:
My only hope now is that I didn’t make a mistake with any of the dimensions. Now that I have ordered the windows, there’s no going back. If I made a mistake, it can’t be fixed. I would have to order a new window to replace anything that is the wrong size. At this point, I’m thinking if I made a mistake, I will just go with it and find a way to make it work. I’m starting to learn that half the battle in building this tiny house is just making a decision and moving forward. Today, I made one more step forward on that process.