On Top of Window Installation

Taller commercial structures and residential high-rises pose a different set of challenges, especially where windows are concerned. It''s important to keep these facts in mind when retrofitting in these situations.

October 24, 2000

Retrofitting windows in multifamily high rises requires several additional steps outside the realm of a typical window installation. Harmon Inc., Minn.-based glass fabricator and installer, offers a different perspective on window replacement.

The most important consideration when retrofitting windows is energy efficiency. Building owners can nearly double the insulation capacity of the glass, and further enhance it with a special coating. Thermally improved framing helps eliminate condensation, also. Many high-rise buildings have single-pane glass and steel frame windows that are prone to breakage and offer poor protection against cold air infiltration.

High-rise buildings are likely to be in close proximity to other buildings, heavy traffic routes and airports. Acoustically insulated glass provides a quieter interior for residents and employees. Sound deadening properties can be further enhanced by using laminated safety glass in combination with noise insulation.

Older multifamily units often aren't capable of accommodating central air conditioning. Remodelers looking for extra profitability should inquire to building owners about adding custom openings in new window systems to accommodate single air conditioning units. This addition can increase property value significantly.

Building owners should look to work with remodelers who have experience in multifamily housing. Scheduling work can become more complicated when coordinating between many different residents and their needs. Even when it's possible to work when tenants aren't home, other residents will still need to be considered in regards to noise, cleanliness and access to building areas.

Kathy Marshall, project manager for Gump Glass, notes that scheduling was key when her company replaced more than 881 windows in a Denver apartment building. "As soon as we finished installing the glass in an apartment unit, the mechanical and electrical contractors were there to install air conditioning," she says. "Then, the architect immediately came to inspect the work. It was a very smooth system, and we met weekly to make sure we stayed on track."

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