Stick figures of Chloe, Andrew and Henderson with their camper parked in front of Blue Mountain beside the Susquehanna River. Playful Curiosity.

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Exterior - New windows and Siding
(July-October, 2012)

This was a tough decision for us. Technically the siding was not flood damaged - minus some dents where floating logs hit it and a ton of mud.

BUT since we had to raise the house we would have had big holes in our siding from where ripped off the carport, back porch, chimney and the laundry room addition. We could have patched it but aluminum siding is expensive, the old stuff was beaten up and the whole thing would have looked like a patchwork quilt.

Cody drilling holes in the beam to attach the deck.
Siding off. Cody drilling holes in the beam to attach the deck.

Then you add in the window dilemma. When we first bought the place we couldn't afford windows even though a couple needed to be replaced. By the time the flood hit, a couple of the windows were toast.

One window was leaking, another was fogging in between the panes, three were super old single pane wood casing windows. Again we could have replaced just the ones that were the worst off but WHY?

The others were all old. The siding is off, the drywall is off. It would cost so much more to put a window in after the siding and drywall were up and of course it could end up looking stupid if the window isn't the same size.

New 7 ft x 4 ft windows.
The big living room windows

Various windows including a 4 ft x 4 ft window.
The new bedroom windows. Moving from two small windows to one big 6 ft by 3 ft window.

Various windows.
More windows.

So we bit the bullet and decided to replace all the windows. We've come so far with everything else. And then there's the soundproofing and energy efficiency factors. Not to mention tax rebates for energy efficient windows.

I bought the best I could afford. That's my general policy. Buy cheap = replace twice, repair frequently and hate using it. Buy the best you can and you just smile, smile, smile. Besides with windows energy savings play a big role. Spend more now - save way more over the life of the window.

I bought Jeld-Wen. The gigantor living room windows (7 ft x 4 ft) only came in side slide so I bought all side slide opening windows and everything would match.

We also bought dark brown outside/white inside windows. A design choice. We thought it would look much better against the faux wood fiber cement siding. We were also told it was only $20 more per window. By the time we found out the truth ($80 per) we were so sold on the idea we didn't want to change. Fortunately, Lowes was offering a $600 merchandise card with the purchase of special order windows so it almost worked out even.

Side of the house with the siding off.
Siding off.

Siding off. Pump jacks installed
They had the siding off in one day. Three months later and they still hadn't finished the job.

New sheeting on the addition.
New sheeting.

The addition was an old porch which had this spongy fiberboard they used to use as roofing underlayment. It was water damaged and you could pushed through it just by leaning on it. I'm sure of this because the siding guys did just that to get into my house and get materials when I wasn't there.

We replaced all the sheeting on the old porch and patched the old slatboard where it was rotten or missing. The contract specified that they were to patch all holes and missing wood. They didn't and we had to do a couple from the inside. The front of the house was the worst. Water had been running down from the road.

Tyvek on.  Aluminum flashing bent.
Tyvek on. Aluminum flashing bent and on. That was a challenge since the house wasn't square parts of the house were recessed and needed intricate bends.

I'll admit (and frequently do) that I've never really liked the outside of my house. We wanted to do new siding when we first got it but just didn't have the money. The old Aluminum was beat up, dented, wavy, ill-fitting. The paint bubbled and got really dull, really quick.

Tip: Don't use a semi-gloss near a railroad and river. You need the gloss to seal it or the paint looks dirty and dull in no time.

We really like the look of wood but over the years we learned what wood siding takes to keep looking good. So we went looking for anything other than vinyl (hate it), aluminum (expensive and transmits sound like a drum head) or wood (expensive and high maintainance)..

A quick trip around the Internet and we found the answer. Fiber cement siding and fiber cement trim. The heavy weight will help kill sound, looks like wood but is bug resistant, fire resistant and low maintainence.

We got it from Build Direct. They are located in Vancouver but the manufacturer ships from Minneapolis. Shipping is salty but still less than real wood.

They have six faux wood colors. We had them send us samples and ended up going with the Old Cherry for the siding and River Rock for the trim.

We paid a little extra for the fiber cement than we would have for vinyl but a good bit less than we would have for real wood. And arguably it was the most functional of the choices.

Siding off. Pump jacks installed
This was done in 100F heat. The guys would come at 6am to beat the heat.

Front of the house.  Ran out of siding.
Too small an exposure so we ran out of siding.

As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

I took the lowest bid and it ended up costing more than the middle guys bid. Forget using a hole in the ground for a trash can, forget using nails on the sheeting when five minutes earlier I reminded them the contract specified screws and showed them where they were, forget that they then had the nerve to ask me to replace the nails they used, forget that I gave them two opportunities to increase their bid (which they did) and they still spent the whole job complaining about the pay, forget that they didn't do everything in the contract and covered it up like I wouldn't notice. The two big reasons I've been telling people to stay away are they just decided on how much exposure to use without asking me or reading the instructions and they didn't finish the damn job.

Too small an exposure. The instructions say to use a minimum of 1 1/4". I bought 8 1/4" board (meaning you can have a 7" exposure - the part you see. The rest is overlapped by the next board.)

They decided to use a 5" exposure - 2 1/4 inches of wasted board. Son of Father/Son team said that's what we did last time. Father said that's what was in the instructions. I read them - several times. It says what I said above.

But by the time, I got to the site they had too much of the siding up. If I made them pull it down it would be damaged and we would run out. The only thing I could do is wait and hope that with good cuts (Bah-ha-ha) and care (right) we would have enough. Of course they only did that part in such a hurry to cover up the fact that they didn't bend the aluminum flashing the way I asked. And by the way it leaks.

I had to order significantly more siding. To the tune of $850 (with shipping). The same money I would have offered to them as a bonus if they had done any part of the job right. It was a difficult job and frankly I can see why the next guy was $1000 more. I still don't see why the one guy was $10,000 more but I'd like to live in his world for awhile.

It took three weeks for the extra siding to come and another four weeks to get them back here. Keep in mind I paid them already. Stupid you say but you stand in the middle of the same situation and try to be the tough guy. In my defense, they were friends of my brother's and had been promised the job when he was heading up the project.

When they came back they worked four hours and buggered off. They finished just enough to justify packing up their pump jacks and split.

Oh sure, they promised they would come back in two days. They didn't. They don't return calls or texts. I finally gave up and paid someone trustworthy to finish the job.

And guess what. The siding doesn't line up. It's higher on the left than on the right so when Ren and Tim went to connect the two they had to fudge it.

All told I ended up paying $1150 more than the bid. Or $150 more than the next higher bid. If I had taken the higher bid I would have had the job done right and two months sooner.

Tip: Plan ahead. Order extra for mistakes - we broke a couple pieces just moving it - and for damage in shipping and because. It very expensive to ship a re-order and there is a set up charge for small runs.

Before shot of the back and River side.
Before shot.

Back with siding installed.
Back of the house. That unfinished treated board is for the future deck.

Back Finished.
Back of the house finished, planted, graveled.

We are probably going to paint the concrete to look like a stone wall. We thought about using faux stone siding but apart from the expense, cleaning it after a flood would be a bottomer.

Before shot of the front.

Front with siding and deck.
Front siding (finally finished) with new deck.

Front and side.
Front finished - river behind.