Our older one-story wood frame Dallas, Texas, home is magnificently landscaped. The dining room has 4'h x 6'w windows centered on north and east walls. We'd like to open the room up with insulated fiberglass replacement windows, each 6' high x 8' wide that meet at the corner. Do you think this remodeling can be done for our budget of $20-25,000?
Patrick R. ~ Dallas, Texas
Hi Patrick, When you say that you'd like the windows to meet in the corner I hope you understand that there needs to be something in the corner to carry the weight of what's above that area. Even if your home is one story, there still needs to be a structural member to carry the roof load there. I think the smallest thing you could get away with would be a 4 inch pipe column and it would need to be sized based on how much weight was bearing on it.
My suggestion for the windows would be to go with sliding or French doors. I don't know what your ceiling height is in that area, but if it's a standard 8 feet and you keep the windows 2 feet off of the floor to avoid needing them to be tempered, then you don't have room for a framing header above them. Even if your ceiling is 9 feet tall, that is still going to be very tight. The other thing to consider is that windows that size are going to have to be custom made and while you have a decent budget for the project, there's no sense in using all of it if you don't need to.
Standard French and sliding doors are 6 feet 8 inches tall which would give you your 6 feet of height and you could use a combination of fixed and operable panels to achieve your 8 feet of width. If you were figuring on the windows starting 2 feet off the ground, then you could use doors that were 8 feet tall which are offered as options by companies such as Marvin, but you would still have the ceiling height concern. The operable panels would allow you to use screens to let the fresh air in and you could get doors without grills so your view was unobstructed. These types of doors are available from many companies and even the top of the line doors would cost about the same or less than having custom windows that large made.
If you're set on using fiberglass as a frame material, companies such as Peachtree offer fiberglass French and sliding doors, but you have more options from companies such as Marvin and Pella if you were willing to use wood or wood clad doors which would look great in an old house.
If nothing but large windows will do, then companies such as Marvin can custom make windows in the size you need. I'm sure Marvin Windows must have many salespeople in an area the size of Dallas, Texas. Just as a price comparison you might want to have a commercial glass company take a look at the job and get a price from them. They probably would provide windows with aluminum frames, but the aluminum is usually available in various colors. These types of windows are called store front windows and they can be used as replacement windows, too.
Any way you go your budget should be sufficient for what you want to do. There is going to be a little framing work around the windows and doors and adding that column in the corner if you want to get the windows as close as possible and possible a little interior wall repair. The only thing that might make your budget a little tight is if your home is stucco or masonry in that area and even then your budget should be okay.