I was fortunate to be referred to Mark Attard at AE when I contacted Alpen for a quote. He is very involved in the Passive House interest group in Colorado and AE Building Systems carries a full line of products to achieve excellent thermal efficiency in any building.
We purchased the Siga air barrier from AE and will also buy the Ultimate Air RecoupAerator Energy Recovery ventilation system from them. So Mark is an important partner in our LEED certification quest.
So far Mark has completed 13 quotes for either the entire set of windows and doors or partial quotes for variations. We are still not to the final quote, but getting very close.
Mark also carries Intus doors and windows. This is a European company that sells uPVC windows and doors as well as aluminum clad wood. I really like the aluminum clad wood, and they make outswing french doors and “window walls” that slide completely open. My friend Sarah the architect, who grew up in the house recommended we look at Nana Walls that open like this. I contacted the rep in Colorado but found that their aluminum version would cost about $20,000 for the 212 inch space. Intus’s folding wall option in aluminum clad wood is about the same. Filling the opening with two sets of outswing french doors costs about $12,000 from Intus and using Alpen sliders is closer to $7000. The sliders have the best u values so the Intus can gain just a tiny bit on the SHGC (.47 vs. .41 for Alpen.)
I didn’t want the openings to protrude into the “solar hall” space as that is the main passage between the entry and rear of the house but our last house had a slider and I always wanted to replace it with a french door. Also we had sliders on our first home and they stuck after several years. One set we replaced with an outswing french door and we really liked that door. It worked well off the kitchen and did not require space in the room itself.
But Alpen does not offer outswing french doors. Mark said outswing doors have sealing and longevity problems so don’t meet Alpen’s specifications at this time. They are working with a uPVC company to put their glass in uPVC windows and doors, however, I really want to put in fiberglass due to its proven durability and I prefer the locally manufactured products from Alpen.
My daughter just had me look closely at her home improvement store inswing french doors. She said for the money, the energy efficiency and operation of the doors is much more cost effective. She has a point. The doors are about .3 or close to the high end Milgard, but the low e coating really limits the heat from the sun. Her doors are on the south side of the house too. But they do open all the way so that if room was provided for them to fold back against the wall, they could open the space in a similar way as outswing doors would. So again I may ask Mark for another variation.
In my defense if I had access to the product software, I could do all this work myself and would love it. As it is, every time I consider an alternate style or design, Mark has to send me another quote. This has been time consuming for both of us.
There is also the installation that we have to think about. Mark works with an installer who is coming out this week to look at the job. We will be able to expose the studs inside for the new windows but the outside is covered either in siding, masonry, or stucco, so the windows probably won’t be able to use “fins” to seal against the building. Instead we will use an attached aluminum brick mold that Mark recommended to trim out the outside of the windows and seal under that, then use foam around the units. Our current windows have a brick mold and use spray foam to seal them so that should work great. Instead of fins the windows can be equipped with brackets to attach them.
Although we are excited to be making this big step in the energy upgrade to this house, it is also a tense time, making the right decisions and having the foresight to have high energy efficiency, workable openings, and attractive design is time consuming for us and our vendor.