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October 8, 2006
A pain in the glass

Steve enjoys breakfast before the workday begins. Note the microwave oven, floor lamp, and electric cooler. Note also the large wooden kitchen box, which was made by Gail's father years ago.

With all eight upstairs wall now (finally) installed, our next objective would be to secure the house for the coming winter rains. We had the first two weekends in October booked for returning to the mountain to accomplish this Ė plenty of time.

Our original intention had been to see if we could install all of the upstairs doors and windows. This would effectively weather-proof the upper story; and with the lower-story still completely wrapped in plastic from last winter, we would have a nice tight weather-proof shell. In addition, we would still be able to enjoy the view from upstairs (which we canít currently do downstairs).

Unfortunately, we discovered on our last trip that this would not be possible. When we opened the box of doors to move them upstairs, we discovered several major pieces of bad news:

  1. All four sliding glass doors were shipped with mullions (grid frames). Gail had specifically requested plain clear glass so that it would not obstruct our view.
  2. The front door was wrong. Just plain wrong. Gail had ordered a double door with hinges on the outside edges, so the open doors would create a large entrance. Instead, Topsider shipped a double-wide frame where only one side opened. And it opened from the center, not the edge. And the windows were crooked.
  3. In addition, there was no back door in the crate.

With the crate broken open, we had no choice but to store all of the doors inside the house to keep them safe. But they were the wrong doors.

Back home, Gail had an interesting exchange with Brian Reed of Topsider. Brian told Gail that the door simply needed to have the center bar removed, and it would be fine. Gail responded that the one doorís hinges were on the center bar, and that the other door didnít even have any hinges.

Brian: "Oh. They really did send you the wrong door, didnít they?"

Our front door: one fixed door, one door with the wrong swing, and one window higher than the other

Gail also had an interesting exchange with Al Fielders of Topsider. Alís first statement was that we could not possibly expect a warranty repair, because these doors were more than one year old. Gail responded that we werenít asking for a warranty repair, we were asking for our correct doors. And our missing back door.

To his credit, Al confirmed that Topsider would absorb the cost of replacing and shipping the correct doors. He also advised Gail to open all remaining crates as soon as possible, to ensure that nothing else had been shipped incorrectly. Al also said that the missing back door should be in one of the remaining crates.

A sliding glass door, complete with unwanted mullions

So on Saturday morning, October 7, Gail, Russell, Cameron, and Joss returned to the mountain. Steve met us onsite as usual. Our first task was to open the two remaining crates, containing shutters and fixed panes of glass.

Joss ponders how to break open the crate of shutters

The bad news was that the shutter crate was filled with wet, moldy shutter boxes and rats nests. The good news was that the shutters themselves seemed to be fine.

The inside of the shutter crate: a pile of wet, moldy boxes and rats nests
Cameron and Gail inventory the shutters

The other good news was that the 17 fixed glass panes were all correct and undamaged. The other bad news was that the back door was still nowhere to be found.

Steve and Gail break open the glass crate

Russell wanted to get the upper story wrapped as soon as possible. Gail wanted to see if we could install any windows. The compromise was that we would save wrapping as the last task of the two weekends, and see what else we could accomplish in the meantime.

In order to install glass, we would first need to stain the exterior wood around the window frames. All five of us set to work on this, using a chocolate-brown stain that Gail had picked out.

Gail with chocolate-brown stain

Our first window attempt was the downstairs bathroom window. It was one of the only downstairs windows that was not wrapped in plastic, mainly because the plastic that we had put in place kept getting shredded by the weather (another good reason for installing real glass). Cameron and Joss cleaned and stained the surrounding wood, then Gail, Russell, and Steve set about installing the window.

It turned out to be ridiculously easy. The self-contained window fit easily in place, and was secured with four screws. Within half an hour, the first window was done.

Installing the downstairs bathroom window:
Joss and Cameron stain the exterior trim
Gail and Steve put the window in place
Our first window is installed!

Between Saturday and Sunday, we proceeded to install the two downstairs corner windows on either side of the front door, and the five self-contained windows that went upstairs. Some windows fit better than others, but all went in. Cameron and Joss each helped install their own bedroom windows.

Cameron and Joss, installing their bedroom windows

It was when we went to install the four upstairs corner windows that we ran into our next major Topsider glitch. The windows were two inches longer than the openings in the corner walls.

All four corner windows had this problem. We literally stood dumbfounded, then simply burst out laughing.


It is now obvious that we will not be able to secure the upstairs with glass and doors alone. At least part of it will need to be wrapped in plastic.

We still have one more weekend to do this. In the meantime, Gail will be contacting Topsider again.

Yes! We also do windows!!


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