Today was Bedroom Window Day 1 and Wim had kindly agreed to give me a hand after having only arrived back home yesterday evening after a few days away with Sophie and the dogs in their camping car, so I had got everything ready and had already made a start cutting the old frame out by the time he arrived. The new bedroom windows, which have been standing outside under a plastic cover for about six months, are nothing like as unwieldy as the patio door that we did together at the end of last year but are heavy enough to need the two of us to safely lift them.
We really wanted to split the window section from the frame but as the manufacturer hadn’t included any instructions and there are also none on their web site, we had to work out how to do it. It took us several minutes but when we’d cracked it it turned out to be really simple to do. After we’d carried the window section up to the bedroom Wim went back for the frame while I carried on cutting around the old frame with a cutting disc on my small angle grinder and slicing through the three metal brackets on each side that attached it to the wall.
This made the frame really loose and after Wim had cut through the bottom section at each end, the whole frame came out with very little damage to the surrounding wall. If only the ‘expert’ that I’d hired to do the three bathroom windows had done the same he’d have saved an enormous amount of time and heartache (on my part!). It was then time to offer the frame into the window aperture and see how good and effective my measurements were. The answer was perfect! The frame sat beautifully in the window aperture with almost perfect gaps on its sides and bottom (the top ascended into a gap above the aperture as the old windows had done) and I could see that there would be very little making good to do.
Having started at 9.00 am we’d got to this stage by only 10.30 so after a cup of coffee, Wim was able to leave as I could handle the next steps alone. Unfortunately I found that the screws that I’d got from Brico Depot over the week-end were nowhere near long enough for the new frame so I knew that for starters I’d need to go back again and this time try to get hold of the special screws of the right length that are available for fitting replacement windows. After clearing a few things away and just moving my ladder to the back of the house I left for Brico Depot with the bedroom window wide open of course, at about 11.00 am.
And then the usual old problems started to rear their ugly heads. Yes, Brico Depot did have some of the right length screws but, naturally, none of the special wall plugs that are needed for them. So I set off for home without the latter thinking that I’d stop off for a bite of lunch and then head down to Briconautes in Montignac to buy some there. However, at the roundabout just before Briconautes the turn-off had a ‘road closed’ sign, and so did the next one from which you could double round to get to Briconautes from the opposite direction, so I was stymied!
Nothing for it but to head off down to Bricomarché in Sarlat, another 25 kilometres or so in the opposite direction, where I did manage to get what I needed. However, it was pushing 4.30 pm by the time I got home again, so the whole exercise as well as adding something like 60 kms or more to my car had wasted going on for 6 hours of what should have been productive work time. And this always seems to happen – one store never seems to have everything in stock that you need to do a job and you end up spending hours driving around half of the Dordogne to get what you need.
The ironic thing was that my problems didn’t end there. It turned out that the walls either side of the bedroom windows are made from terre cotta blocks which I know from experience are hopeless at taking wall plugs after you’ve drilled them. And such was the case this afternoon. It turned out that although the special window fixing screws worked fine, the special wall plugs that I’d spent hours driving around to buy were ineffective.
So after drilling the side fixing holes I then had to completely remove the frame again, use some larger wall plugs that I already had which fitted more tightly and then replace the frame as accurately as I could to make the holes and plugs line up again. I managed to do it, mainly because the old frame had caused so little damage when we’d removed it earlier, and I did the minimum of making good necessary to make the job weather-tight.
As the window section is pretty heavy for one person to man-handle, my original idea was to wait for Wim to return before refitting it. However, I thought I’d give it a go and after a couple of missed shots lining up the bottom pin that slips into the bottom pin, I was amazed that I managed to do it. It was then only a matter of closing the window and carefully jacking up the window section in the frame to line up the top pin that slides into place to hold it in.
Once it was correctly aligned, it slipped in surprisingly easily and to all intents and purposes the job was done. I’ll leave all of the final making good and sealing until both windows have been done but for now, here are a ‘before’ shot taken of the window in the other bedroom and an ‘after’ shot of the window that was put in today.
I’m delighted with the results and I just wish that the person who I entrusted to replace my bathroom windows had done an equally good job. So now just the second bedroom window to do and a new electric hot plate to go in and I’m all finished. I’d like to make some phone calls tomorrow to do with the new house build and as I’ve been working flat out without a break for several days, I’ll probably then take it easier and just get the other bedroom ready for its new window on wednesday when Wim will be available again. And if it makes as little mess as the work today did, I’ll be very happy indeed 🙂