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Window Replacement Guide in Orlando, FL
The average window in a home is expected to last anywhere from 10 to 40 years, depending on the materials used. Naturally, then, many homeowners are flying blind when it comes time to do a full replacement project on their home. Home improvements of this magnitude are not inexpensive, with the average job costing from $7,000 to $20,000 for a home with roughly 20 windows. It is imperative to understand the steps needed to complete the process so you don’t waste money.
Because of the amount of inclimate weather Orlando receives, it is especially important to find windows that can withstand hurricane force winds and extreme heat while still being energy efficient. Plus, the City of Orlando has specific permit and inspection requirements that can impact your decision on how much of the work to contract out.
This Orlando Replacement Guide will walk you through the steps necessary to decide when your windows need replacing, what materials to consider, and what you will need to acquire in order to do the job legally.
How to Know When a Window Replacement Is Necessary in your Orlando Home
If your home is more than 30 years old, chances are it is time for a window upgrade. However, age is not the only factor to consider, especially in a city like Orlando. From 2000 to 2013, Florida was hit by 63 hurricanes and tropical storms, and although Orlando is an hour’s drive from the coast, many people saw serious damage done to their homes and neighborhoods. If your windows have begun to leak, rot, or cannot properly open or close, then replacing them is probably necessary in order to maintain your home’s value.
Rain and wind are not the only extremes that will assault your home, though. With an average high of 92 degrees in July and August, older single pane windows will raise your utility bill by hundreds of dollars every year, and it would behoove your monthly budget to have them replaced with a more energy efficient option.
Window Materials Matter in Orlando
When considering windows, you will need to decide on which material the window framing is made of, single vs. double-paned windows, and any sort of specialized coating to make them more energy efficient.
Aluminum, wood, and vinyl are your main three options for frames. Wood is the most common choice across the country, but is not the best option for the wet climate of Orlando since most tend to begin decaying early in climates with high humidity. Vinyl, also, is prone to warping and bending under the elements, though new technological advances have greatly improved their strength. Aluminum window casings are incredibly tough and tend to maintain their structural integrity the best. If you are concerned about aluminum conducting too much heat into your home, thermally broken aluminum is an excellent choice because it can effectively block as much heat transfer as vinyl or wooden frames.
As for the panes themselves, the City of Orlando now requires that all new builds and renovation projects install windows that are impact resistant. There are several ways to meet these criteria, but laminated glass is the best option. With this, two pieces of glass are sandwiched together with no air between them by a transparent laminate that adds strength and durability to the windows. When a hurricane hits and debris begins flying at your home, these windows may crack, but the laminate with not allow them to shatter or leak.
Look for windows that have the Energy Star designation with a low U-value and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). The U-value is a measure of a window’s ability to conduct outdoor heat to a cool interior and vise versa. The lower the value, the less heat (or cold) escapes through the window pane. SHGC operates the same way except it measures solar radiation rather than heat. If you choose this route, then you can expect a roughly 15% decrease in your annual utility bills.
Permits, Inspections, and Fees in Orlando
Before beginning your project, the City of Orlando requires you to obtain a building permit and submit plans for all changes that you wish to make. Florida Statute 553.842 and Florida Administrative Code 9B-72m, require you to provide the window information and approval numbers for all of your building components that will be used, as well. All exterior windows must have passed a wind pressure test and be labeled with some form of etching, marking, or label that certifies that they have been approved. You can find a list of approved window products at www.floridabuilding.org. A fee will be assessed with the issuance of your permit based on the estimated cost of your entire renovation. For any questions you may have, you can contact the City of Orlando Permitting Division at 407-246-2271.
Inspections will need to be scheduled with a city inspector, either online at the City of Orlando website or by calling 407-246-4444 and following their Interactive Voice Response system. Be sure to have your case/permit number (which is located on the upper righthand corner of your permit) and your inspection number (which is on the inspection record card).
All of these requirements can be a little tricky, though not insurmountable if you are planning to tackle this renovation yourself. The Orange County website has a thorough guide to helping you navigate all of this. If you choose to hire a licensed contractor, though, he or she will be in charge of ensuring that everything is done to code.