Let the Light Shine In: Prioritizing Windows in Your Custom Home
Windows aren’t always top-of-mind for people building custom homes. Many think they’re about as routine of a choice as the location of light fixtures or doorways – what could possibly go wrong? The answer is a lot.
You see, when windows are overlooked, it can affect quite literally everything in your home – the way you feel, the amount of natural light, privacy, water damage, soundproofing, electric costs, and more. So, if you haven’t yet given a thought to where your windows will be located in your new custom home, take a few minutes to read our guide. By understanding several key factors, you’re certain to get it right from the get-go and will definitely avoid costly and unnecessary repairs down the road
Light & Direction
Understanding where your home is situated – that is, the direction it faces – is the most important starting point when selecting your windows. But if you’ve never stopped to consider this, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s one of the most forgotten components of a custom build for homeowners. Have you ever seen a new construction home with a single completely blank wall and zero windows on that entire side? They’re more common than you might think, and unfortunately, that’s a sure sign that the light in the home is minimal, at best.
Generally speaking, a home that faces east will receive the brightest light in the morning, while a west-facing home will see brilliant sunsets from its front windows. The south side of a home will always get the highest amount of natural light throughout the day while the darkest side of a home will be on the north side. What this means is that however your home is positioned, the choice on where to place your rooms and windows will determine exactly how much natural light streams inside.
The best bet is to place rooms that don’t need a lot of light (like the garage or bedrooms), on the north side of your home, and keep the common higher-activity spaces (like your living room or kitchen) on the south end of the building. Of course, in Texas, too much sun can mean higher electric bills in the summer heat. But that doesn’t mean you should ditch all south-facing windows for convenience. Instead, you’ll want to still keep that side of your home prioritized for light and place the light-friendly rooms in that area. You can always combat the heat with quality sun shades for your windows to save on energy, and the way that ample natural lighting will make you feel is abundantly more important in the long run.
Size & Scale
Speaking of light, when you’re choosing your home’s windows, you definitely want to take each room’s size and scale into account. There’s nothing worse than a beautiful living room with soaring cathedral ceilings paired with tiny windows fit for a small bedroom. Windows have the potential to bring a room to life, and just as you’d want furniture to fit your space like a glove, you want your windows to fit accordingly.
Choosing the size is, of course, a personal opinion (after all, not everyone wants the lack of privacy that floor-to-ceiling windows can bring). But when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of larger windows. If you’ve ever been inside a small bedroom that still feels bright and cheery, it’s likely because the windows are sizable enough to let in plenty of light. By contrast, the opposite – a tiny window in a large room – tends to look stunted and out-of-proportion.
Once your direction and window size are narrowed down, you’ll need to determine the type of window that’s right for you. Style-wise, you’ll usually be faced with choosing between single/double-hung panes or crank-out/casement panes. There are other options as well – custom arched windows, glass block windows, bay windows, awning windows, and sliding windows, to name a few. But these are usually selected on a case-by-case basis, depending on your custom home needs.
Regardless of style, your window type really comes down to two functional factors: ease of cleaning and airflow. Windows like double-hungs (that open from the bottom or top and usually swing out for cleaning) or casement windows (when the full window cranks out from the home) tend to be easier to clean in general. Because you can easily access both the inside and outside of each pane, you can usually clean the entire window from one spot versus having to hire professional window cleaners each year.
As for airflow, you’ll need to decide precisely how much you’d like in your home. Casement windows (and similar-opening windows like awning or sliding options) tend to allow a full window’s worth of fresh air to enter your home. On the other hand, single-hung windows will only open halfway, meaning you’ll still catch a breeze, but it won’t be nearly as strong or cool as if the full window were open. One option isn’t necessarily better than another, but it does depend on your personal preference, so you’ll want to think about what is most important for you and your family.
Finally, determining the window brand that’s right for you is a must. Don’t simply go with whatever brand your builder suggests – do a bit of research on your end as well to find out their specific components, if there are any warranties (both on the window itself and on the hardware), and what their reviews are like. Something like a faucet or even a vanity are easy to change out down the road, but for windows, you want to ensure you get quality right away.
You see, while windows are visually important for a home (as evidenced by each of the above sections), they’re also structurally essential. Anytime there is a hole cut into a home (doors, roofs, windows, etc.), it literally opens up your home to potential damage. And if these elements aren’t installed properly or they are poor quality, you can be subjected to excessive rainwater build-up or leaks, mold, rotting wood, or even vermin. Plus, a higher quality window will be much more sound-proof and sturdy, and can even provide a better seal to stop unnecessary heat or AC from escaping (keeping your energy costs low). So the importance of choosing windows that are reliable cannot be overstated. Always go for quality if you can swing it financially – we promise it’s worth every penny.
Windows don’t have to be complicated, but they do deserve some serious attention. Because no matter what type of window you’re drawn to, how much airflow you desire, or what level of cleaning ease you prefer, selecting the windows that will fit your vision of your dream home is a must. Over time, it will be one of the smartest investments you’ve ever made.
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