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Newsletter #228

New Construction Windows

New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips

James Todd
August, 2004

All past newsletters are archived online at:



  1. Window Selection (3rd in series of articles)
  2. Contingency Plans - Builder/ contractor delays (2nd in series of articles)>
  3. Limestone: An alternative residential building material
  4. Thought for the Day
  5. Subscription Information
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1. Windows - Low E Coatings and Other Films on the glass

In the last 2 newsletters we learned that ... 1) the Energy Rating for a window is based on the entire window package including the glass, sash, seals and frame, 2) the higher the positive ER number, the better, 3)frame and sash designs effect the "condensation resistance" of windows and 4)window frame material impacts the appearance and ongoing maintenance of your new home. This month we are exploring coatings on glass.

First some window glass science: In winter, the sun is lower on the horizon and the sun's short wave rays pass through standard window glass. Unfortunately at night, long wave radiant heat in your home also passes through standard glass to leave your home. In the summer time, the sun is higher and some sunlight should be shaded by the roof overhang of your home, and by awnings or similar shades. Also the sharper angle is such that some of the sunlight hitting a window will be reflected. However radiant energy from heated objects, will tend to enter your home day or night in the summer time.

A low-E coating on a typical double glazed window is made of a fine metallic layer applied to the outside face of the inner pane of glass. This coating is mostly transparent to short wave, visible light but reflects back low-angled, radiant energy from warmed objects. This means that in the winter, heat tends to stay within your home (reflected back inward by the metallic coating) and during summer, heat tends to be prevented from entering your home (reflected back outward by the metallic coating). Low-E coatings may reduce the amount of direct heat from winter sun by up to 10%, but the reduced heat loss at night more than offsets this reduction. A low-E coating provides the equivalent insulating benefit of triple glazing without the added weight.

There are various low-E coatings available depending on whether you are trying to optimize winter or summer heat. There are also double low-E coatings available for triple glazing. Coatings can add substantially to the cost of your new windows, but given the cost of heating and air conditioning, low-E coatings on double-glazing should warrant your careful consideration.

Research is being done on other residential films including electrochromic, thermochromic and photochromic but these are all still experimental, low production and very pricey.

TipsKeep your windows clean and in good repair if you want them to do a good job for you.

Be cautious of after-market films that can be applied directly to existing windows. These tend to significantly reduce the energy from direct winter sunlight, and may be easily damaged.

If you are inclined to explore the experimental new films, the payoff may be big for your specific application but research carefully.

As with all our other tips, always deal with reputable, established firms. A window guarantee from a bankrupt manufacturer is probably not worth much.

Some Useful Links

Double Glazing

Atria Windows Low E Glass

Glass on Web – Low E Glass

2. Contingency Plans - Builder/ contractor delays

Last month we talked about some of the things that can go wrong, legal precautions, and various steps to take and be aware of when contracting for your new home. This month we will discuss some options if things DO get delayed.

After the initial shock of discovering that you will not have access to your new home at the expected time, your very next steps should be to initiate damage control. The amount of damage control that you can do will depend on your specific situation: contract terms, how long the delay, cause of the delay, whether it is summer or winter, whether you are buying a new (turnkey) home in a new subdivision or you already own the land, whether your home is on a large country lot or a city lot and maybe even how well you know your neighbours.

Staged Occupancy

The biggest incremental expense that you will encounter due to delivery delays of your new home will probably be accommodation expense. If this is a custom home, and it is delayed a month or less, you may be able to make an arrangement with the builder to finish a bedroom, and bathroom and maybe a kitchen that you and your family can live in, while the rest of your home is under construction.

If no such arrangement is possible, safe, or otherwise realistic, you will need a place to house your family for some period of time and you will need a place to safely store your belongings.


Here are some options for accommodations:
Live in a family cottage or rent a nearby cottage. Negotiate a monthly rate.
Live in friends' basement or move in with friends. Some rent might be appropriate.
Live in a nearby motel. Negotiate a long term rate rather than a daily rate.
Use a travel trailer or tent trailer or large tent and camp on your own land.
Use a travel trailer or tent trailer or large tent and park in a nearby RV park and negotiate a monthly rate rather than a daily rate.
Arrange to remain in your old home and pay rent to the buyer of your old home, if they are willing to make such an arrangement.

Storage of Furnishings and Possessions

You can store your furniture in a warehouse via a moving company. Be sure that your property is insured. This will probably be the most costly solution, as it will include extra handling of your property. You will have to ensure that you keep appropriate clothing or that you have access to your belongings if necessary.

You may store your furniture in a rented large tractor trailer (more correctly called a dry van) on your property. An older, used 40' or 48' trailer, suitable for storage of furniture will cost as little as $2500 to buy outright. You can rent one for $200/month or less. Be sure to talk to your insurance company.

Store your furniture in a large rented tractor trailer on the trailer company's property or someone else’s property. Have an agreement drawn up and be sure that your property is fully insured against all perils and theft. You will have to ensure that you keep appropriate clothing or that you have access to your belongings if necessary.

Additional Financing

You may want to talk to your bank manager/mortgage manager about changes in financing resulting from the delays. Funding to pay for your home may not be required on the planned date and consequently the mortgage start-up will be pushed back. If "bridge financing" is involved (while you own one home and are building another home), you will have to advise the bank if the closing date of your old home changes or if your planned Date of Occupancy changes. Be careful how you tell the bank the story or they may want to call in their "bridge financing" loan forcing you to proceed with the closing of your old home.


As mentioned in last months newsletter, seek legal advice as appropriate, to recover your losses. Covering all possibilities in this brief article is difficult but perhaps after reviewing this material you will have some ideas. Fortunately the majority of new home purchases go very smoothly and we sincerely hope that your project is on time and within budget.

Some useful links to check out

Crumbling Dreams

Construction Delay, Acceleration, and Inefficiency Claims


Holland and Trailer

Semi Tralers Sales and Leasing

3. Limestone: An alternative residential building material

There is an amazing assortment of limestone products available from a variety of products to fit many residential building applications. A variety of companies have perfected various solutions and applications of limestone with interesting designs that are both attractive and affordable. We will cover some of these in this article and have provided a number of references in the useful links section for your convenience.

Dream Home Source has over 15,300 house plans easily searched from their online database. You decide how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and garage stalls your new home will have, along with many other key features. Dream Home Source has an enormous variety of house plans for every taste, from traditional to contemporary, from 500 to 10,250 square feet. Register and receive a free home plan CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. Visit us today!

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The New House Building Guide – Learn How To Save Thousands Building Your New Home

Intimidated by the idea of being your own builder? You’re not alone. Most people don’t have the time, expertise, or contacts to perform this task. The good news is that you don’t have to. You can use your own builder and still save thousands. Get the House Building Guide and learn how. The Guide contains step-by-step instructions, sample specifications, an example building-contract, and dozens of money saving, convenience and healthy house building tips. This is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in building a new home.

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Limestone consists mainly of calcite, has a smooth granular surface, varies in degrees of hardness and does not usually show much graining and crystalline structures. Some of the more dense limestone pieces can be also be polished into a mirror finish.

Limestone comes in a variety of colours. The more common colours are green, black, brown, grey and blue. The reader should also be aware that there is a natural colour variation in most limestone blocks. Suppliers will provide a variety of colours depending on the product available to them from local quarries.

It also can be shaped into interesting designs and appearances such as a random blocks of stone or slabs of stone, veneer with a broken edge, pavers and patios stones with natural and irregular edges, sawed and shaped veneer with split faced on several sides, one or more sides finished or polished.

Some suppliers will also grade their products and will use a variety of words to describe their grading parameters. Limestone may be graded as follows: A) Course stone without a a uniform colour or texture B) moderate sized stone with a more uniform colour and texture and C) A fine grained stone with uniform texture through the stone. You should always ask the supplier for examples of each of their stones and grading, then decide for yourself which grade of stone you prefer for your project.

Today limestone can be used in applications such as load bearing masonry walls, gated community walls, limestone fireplace surrounds, limestone veneer, re-cladding existing buildings, , addition of limestone architectural enhancements, limestone chips in various sizes that can be mixed with concrete to produce white concrete for decorative walks and gardens, white limestone sand used to make white mortar. You can even use it to be mixed with hot rolled asphalt to create a variety in the texture and colour of asphalt.

Suppliers are available that will provide fabrication, design, cutting and finishing. They can be purchased in custom designs as well as standard designs. You will need to discuss your requirements in detail with your supplier if you want a custom designed one of a kind limestone addition to your home or garden.

Examples of custom designs are columns and arches, gated walls, fireplace surrounds, various mouldings, veneers, and other applications. Discuss your needs with your builder and limestone supplier to see if they can meet your needs while still ensuring a safe sturdy design.

Some useful links to check out

American Limestone Company

Grant Wood Limestone

Asian Stores ltd

White Limestone Building products

4. Thought For The Day There is no “right” to do a wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

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