drewexim duo

this post continues a discussion/presentation of the drewexim windows.  the focus is aesthetics, operation and cost.

about a year ago, i installed a large drewexim window in my studio. once jessica and todd saw my studio window, there was no turning back (to a more typical north american window).  the drewexim window and doors are substantial in their construction, appearance and operation.  the tilt/turn operation is a bit unique by our north american standards, but i enjoy the flexibility afforded by this functionality (“tilt” = the window sash opens inward, hinged at the bottom – “turn” = the window swings open inward, hinged at the side….like a door).  with the turn of a three-position lever handle, the window progressively opens from a closed/locked position to tilt then turn. no handle-cranking here.

jessica and todd’s tastes encompass a more contemporary/modern (i hate these labels!) sensibility.  aesthetically, the clean detailing and lines of the window fit nicely with the overall aesthetic of this house, both inside and out.  interior finish options include clear, stained and painted.  j & t selected a walnut stain.  exterior paint colors are selected from hundreds of “standard” paint colors (custom is available, too, at extra cost).  our window exterior has a “white aluminum” paint finish. it resembles a metallic finish and will work well with the corrugated metal siding.

cost.  you might think these windows and doors would cost A LOT more than our standard north american windows.  they don’t.  when we compared drewexim to standard north american products with necessary performance upgrades (i.e.: high-performance triple-glazing, heavy duty hardware, quality finishes, etc.) we discovered value for our dollars even when considering the euro/dollar exchange and shipping costs.  in short, the window and door package cost for this house is on-par with other houses of similar scope and costs.

drewexim windows and doors are manufactured in poland (the country, not the town in maine!).  all windows and doors are custom, as in made to order by size, configuration, finish, etc. nate campbell of fenestrations plus in bangor is the local distributor.  you can reach nate at www.fenplus.com or call him at 207.631.5041.

drewexim uno

our drewexim windows and doors patiently await installation while sitting in a warehouse in bangor.  we selected these windows primarily for their energy performance characteristics.  in this house, these include heat loss (“R” value), solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and visible light transmittance (VLT).  basically, our goals are to minimize heat loss (losing precious heat through the glass during the heating season), maximize heat gain during winter months (its that solar-thing, you know, capture the sun’s heat through the glass) and enjoy the benefits of natural daylight.  fine-tuning the tri-pane glass to attain these goals is readily accomplished with this window.

so, here are the numbers….

R-value = 5.  the triple pane glass is comprised of three layers of 4 mm glass separated by two, argon filled 10 mm air spaces.  the glass has low emissivity (Low-E) coatings on the appropriate faces.

SHGC = 0.50.  we could have upgraded to .62 (higher is better), but there were two factors working against us.  one, it costs more – the minor increase in solar heat gain wasn’t sufficient to offset the added cost.  second, the two large, primary solar-oriented window units had to be tempered glass (per code due to the adjacent stairway and proximity to floor level) and the SHGC upgrade is not available with tempered glass.  we could have mixed the two types of glass in different units, but were concerned there might be a slight difference in appearance between the two glass types.  again, the minor performance improvement did not warrant the the cost….cost as in the risk of an apparent visual difference (not aesthetically desirable).

VLT = 0.70.  again, higher is better, and this is very good.  we want abundant daylight because its good to have natural light and to minimize dependence upon artificial (electricity!) lighting.

another functional consideration is the construction of the window itself.  a large, beefy wooden frame (about 3 1/2” square) encompasses the window unit.  the exterior is painted aluminum applied to the wooden frame.  this aluminum is a significant extrusion with an integral rainscreen  that provides an airspace/drainage plane between the aluminum and the wood.  so, any water (rain) that might penetrate behind the aluminum exterior will drain to the outside.  thus, greatly decreasing the likelihood of wood deterioration/rot due to moisture infiltration.  and, this aluminum exterior is attached in a manner that permits its removal and re-application should that be necessary for maintenance, repair, painting, etc.  yeah, pretty cool!

this information summarizes the performance issues supporting our window choice.  other deciding factors include aesthetics, operation and  cost.  these will be reviewed DREWEXIM DUO, a forthcoming post.

drewexim windows and doors are manufactured in poland (the country, not the town in maine!).  all windows and doors are custom, as in made to order by size, configuration, finish, etc. nate campbell of fenestrations plus in bangor is the local distributor.  you can reach nate at www.fenplus.com or call him at 207.631.5041.


SIPs panels for entire house arrived on two trucks. the blue, three-wheeled fork lift hanging on the back of the trailer makes short-order of the off-loading process.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs).  these 12″ thick foam (EPS-Expanded Polystyrene) panels are sheathed on two sides with 1/2″ thick OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and represent the building shell for the house.  when assembled, these 48″ wide panels will form the walls and roof for the house (unheated garage is conventional framing).  the R-value for these panels is R48 (compared to R19 for a typical 2×6 wall with fiberglass insulation).  SIPs are structural.  in other words, they hold themselves up as well as the roof above with only additional structure required at point loads (i.e.: beams, etc.).

claimed SIPs benefits (from manufacturer’s literature) include:

  • wood facings are from rapidly renewable wood species.
  • EPS does not include CFCs, HFCs or HCFCs.
  • minimizes the use of traditional lumber.
  • EPS is fully recyclable.
  • waste is minimized by providing factory fabrication of complete building package.

once we’ve completed our assault on the learning curve, we expect the house will go up fast.  holes for windows and doors are pre-cut.  as mentioned in the last post, the windows and exterior doors have arrived, ready for installation when the SIPs have been erected and a roof is in place.  so, we expect (hope?) that in about a month we should have box that resembles a house!

this SIPs thing is a new method for myself and gary nichols (builder).  so, will be an interesting comparison to our more familiar territory of conventional framing with cavity insulation and rigid foam applied to the “exterior”.  installation commences on thursday.  so, keep an eye out for the next post – SIPs 2.  therein, i hope to be reporting on the efficiencies of SIPs erection!

all SIPs stored on-site awaiting arrival of boom truck and installation next week.

Kel House of House & Sun, Inc. from Brooksville, Maine is the supplier – www.houseandsuninc.com/207.326.4017.  Branch River Plastics, Inc. of Smithfield R.I. is the manufacturer/fabricator – www.branchriver.com.

ICF foundation

foundation walls were poured on wednesday.  the foundation system is ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) perimeter frost walls and concrete slab-on-grade for the first floor.  the ICF walls consist of 6″ thick, reinforced concrete wall sandwiched between two layers of 2 5/8″ rigid foam insulation.  the foam blocks (yeah, kinda like big LEGOs) are stacked and reinforced, then pumped full of concrete.  the resulting R-value is 22.  this wall system also provides very effective insulation at the edge of the concrete slab (which contains radiant heating).  so, our battle against heat loss during the heating season will be very effective.

this coming week will see installation of all sub-slab utilities, 8″ layer of crushed stone layer with radon ventilation piping, 6″ of rigid insulation, and poly vapor barrier.  then, next week the slab reinforcing and radiant tubing will be installed and concrete slab poured!  slowly, but surely, we are making progress.