Replacing your Calgary windows and doors? Architectural rules may apply
By JJ O’Connell
A two Z Windows & Doors Calgary
I’ve installed a lot of Calgary windows and doors in my career, and there are always a lot of considerations to figure out before any replacement begins.
Let’s say you want to update your view but you don’t want to stick with the same window and door styles that your neighbours have (like square grid insets, bay windows, certain shapes and sizes). To improve the curb appeal and the function of your windows and doors, we can help find out if your home requires you to follow architectural guidelines–or if you can install whatever you wish.
There are few new homes that need replacement, mostly because the products are usually still covered under limited or lifetime warranties. It’s mostly older homes over 10 years of age that need an upgrade. The first step is to determine which windows and doors need replacing, your budget, as well as the architectural style to match or boost the curb appeal of your home. During this process, we do a little sleuthing to make sure that the developer who designed and built your home could still have outstanding architectural standards.
All communities begin with a plan to maintain guidelines for the look, feel, streetscape, construction and access. That’s why you see neighbourhoods having similar designs, with five to ten different choices. This ensures the vision of the community is reliable, boosting status as well as reputation for the builder and of course, the city or town that wants to attract new residents. Architectural standards, such as windows, doors, finishes, roofing, siding, etc., are all included in the title package you received when you purchased your home. Developers will identify what colours, textures, products and styles are allowed and what is not. If you can’t find the title, you can order one online–you can get this at Service Alberta for about $10 online or in person. You can also check with your community association (if you have one in your neighbourhood), which keeps these standards on file.
For older homes, there’s a pretty good chance that after 10 years, the developer has handed over the subdivision to the municipality, and any controls fall onto them. Most municipal engineering and building departments don’t worry so much about which window and door you install (after the architectural rules have expired). What they are really worried about is the structural integrity and safety when you do choose to replace a window or door.
Here are some of the things the city inspectors are focused on:
- Window size and placement: if you are replacing a window, say, on the side of your home, or you want to add more windows/natural light, it may be too large for the safety of your neighbours. If a fire starts in your home, and the windows are too big, and the flames break the window, the fire will spread easily to their houses and possibly cause a chain reaction. That’s why you rarely see many windows along the side of a home, no matter how far apart each structure may be.
- The original structural engineering of your home was designed specifically for existing windows. If you want to change the configuration or size of the windowed or entry space, you will probably need permission from the municipality to do so. Your home’s structure may not be able to support your vision, (like the elevation of the home, placement of the window, etc.) but working with the A two Z team, we can help you find some great looking alternatives. Our team typically works with you to create a floor plan with all the elements required by the engineers and inspector, and we work on your behalf to make the case to allow for the changes, while following the City’s strict safety codes.
- Egress of the windows is also important. How Calgary windows and doors open and close and what type of access is available, say, for emergency services (fire department) is also needed before a major change can be approved.
- If you are building an addition, you’ll already require a building permit, so the A two Z team can help you determine the best and safest placement of the windows and doors, and make type, size and quality recommendations.
- The city building department also look at the type of glass (or what they call ‘glazing’) you have in your Calgary windows and doors. At the time your home was built, ecological and safety standards were followed, but now have become more advanced. A two Z Windows & Doors offers a wide variety of Low E-glass products that will not only improve your heating and cooling costs but add stability and security to your home.
- Any replacement may require a permit, for which the cost can be determined easily with an online calculator, often provided by the municipality. Calgary’s online calculator can be viewed here. The A two Z team typically does this for you and adds it to our very detailed invoice, so you know what you are paying for in advance. For example, if your window replacement requires a permit, a $1,500 installation bill will cost an additional $132.57.
- If you need advice on how to trust an installer, you can rest assured that the A two Z Windows & Doors team, which delivers whole-home solutions from top to bottom, inside and out, is a Certified Prime Contractor and a proud member of Renomark, which requires all members to follow a strict code of ethics and laws to ensure you get an honest estimate, professional installation and reliable warranty service. We are also covered under WCB and registered with Calgary’s Better Business Bureau.
So what if you choose to replace a window yourself without following these steps? You could potentially run into issues when it comes time to sell your home, especially if it is not matching the municipality’s safety and engineering standards. Many realtors have discussed any changes to a home before selling, only to find out that renovations were done without approval. The result is usually the removal, inspection, approval and re-installation, which can cost you more in the end. As well, you could potentially be fined for installing windows, doors, siding, roofing, etc., incorrectly or worse, with unsafe materials (such as older, used windows that are no longer considered safe). If you choose this route, and you install yourself, you will also lose your manufacturer’s warranty coverage, which can add more expense and hassle.
Before you venture into doing your own work, or you are looking for a trust and proven installer with 25+ years’ experience, give us a call and get an affordable estimate from the A two Z experts first. Call 403-257-DOOR (3677) or email us.