April 23, 2020| Lester Yat
“The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone. The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone….” Generations of children have learned this little anatomical ditty — but it’s a concept that carries beyond the familiar, and simplistic, “skeleton dance.”
Take, for example, your typical building. Whether it’s a single-family home, a townhouse apartment or a high-rise condominium, the structure is composed of connected elements. A homeowner, condo board member or apartment owner could easily update the childhood song: “The window’s connected to the side wall…”
In fact, that’s basically how a builder views those components: They are all related. So it’s not surprising that when a condo board or building owner asks a contractor about replacing a building’s 20-year-old, energy-inefficient windows, the response is likely to include a suggestion that it’s time to look at the siding, too. Replacing the roof shingles? Take a look at the gutters and downspouts that handle the runoff from the roof at the same time — and realize that this isn’t a ploy by the contractor to simply increase the size of the job.
Think about it: You don’t want cold air, or water, leaking in around the windows. And you certainly don’t want to see your beautiful new siding disturbed a year or two down the road when you decide to upgrade your home’s windows. More than a concern about aesthetics, an integrated approach to dealing with siding and windows, for example, will ensure that the window openings are properly flashed and integrated with the house-wrap material. And all the time spent measuring trim, caulking and sealing the window and door openings can be done once, instead of repeated.
But, you say, you can’t afford to do the whole job at once! Even though you have a repair and maintenance budget, and even though your association had a reserve study done and tucks money away in the reserve fund every month, those major component replacements can be costly.
While it’s tempting to create a “to-do” list of replacement projects, and complete them one at a time as funds become available, that approach is not the most efficient for the building envelope — nor cost effective in the long run.
Fortunately, many contractors today are offering sensible, and affordable, solutions to the funding dilemma. If your association, for example, consists of several buildings, contractors might suggest doing an integrated siding/window replacement in stages; instead of doing all the siding on all the buildings, and then a few years later coming back to replace all the windows, you can set a schedule for doing both components on, say, 20 percent of the buildings each year for five years.
In addition to ending up with a better, more weather-resistant job on each building, you can probably get a fixed price now for the entire job — and avoid the prospect of higher prices down the road.
This integrated approach, incidentally, can be applied not just to siding and windows, or to roofing and upgraded gutters/downspouts, but also to other projects around your property. Consider landscaping: if you’re going to renovate the lawn, or replace hardscaped areas, take a look at your shrubs, trees, even at your irrigation system as well. Why dig up that nice new lawn a couple of years down the road in order to update that aging system?