Monday, September 4, 2017

Impact Windows and Bulding Permits


Do I need to pull a permit if I am only changing one window in my house and installing an impact window? Do I need to pull a permit even though I am not changing the location or the size of the opening? We have several clients asking these questions when they are thinking about replacing one or more of their existing windows. The answer is yes, you must pull a permit if you are replacing any exterior window or door.

Impact Windows and Wind Engineering
The Florida Building Code requires you to obtain a building permit to replace an existing window for an impact window (this rule also applies if you install a non-impact window). To obtain the building permit, you will need a wind engineering report, specifying what the wind loads are for each opening in the house. The impact window or door that you are purchasing MUST have a design pressure that exceeds the wind loads calculated by the engineer. Otherwise, installing impact windows and doors is pointless.

Do Impact Windows Have Different Ratings?
The impact windows that we install in Miami must have the Miami-Dade County Notice of Acceptance, or NOA. To check impact windows ratings, you could review the NOA of the specific window or door. NOAs will have a table showing the corresponding maximum design pressures for an impact window depending on the size and glazing makeup option used. So, properly evaluating whether or not an impact window meets all the requirements is not so simple.  Important factors must be evaluated.

For full service assistance on successfully moving through the entire process of replacing existing windows for impact windows, contact Astor Windows.

Designing Structures to Provide Full Support to 3-Track Impact-Resistant Door Systems


This post is intended for design professionals who plan to specify impact-resistant sliding glass doors with three moving panels on three independent tracks. A three-track system allows for wide openings with unobstructed views when all panels stack on one end behind each other. It is important, though, to understand that the new generation of approved por impact, heavy-duty, three-track configurations could measure more than 8 inches in depth. As a result, door tracks can extend beyond tie beams' and columns' depths, which presents a problem: Miami-Dade County and State of Florida approvals require that structural substrates must provide full support to the door tracks. The table below provides dimensions for four impact-resistant sliding glass door systems rated for hurricane protection and approved by Miami-Dade County. On one column we show the nominal track width, assuming no screen rail tracks are desired. On the other column, we present our estimated jamb support and tie beam minimum depth to appropriately offer full support to the sliding glass door system.



It is important that architects and structural engineers learn about these track dimensions before they finalize their designs for new structures. 

If you are in the market looking for to purchase new impact-resistant sliding glass door systems and need a professionals with proven track records to help you design and properly install these doors, you can learn more about us at Astor Windows.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Using Storefront Profiles in Residential Projects in Miami

Storefront systems - impact resistant windows
Storefront systems used in residential applications - Pinecrest, Florida
Some of our homeowner clients interesting in installing impact windows at their homes are surprised to find out how well storefront system profiles look in residential applications. In the past, storefront systems were used primarily in commercial projects. 

Today, given the ever demanding desire for larger and larger impact window formats, especially in our local Miami market, the storefront systems provide ample square footage of single unit glass panels Miami-Dade County approved for hurricane protection when compared to thinner profiles historically utilized in residential projects. The commercial, impact-resistant fixed panels, despite designed with bulkier profiles, do not look bad at all installed in houses. In fact, the more prominent section looks more proportionate when displayed on the large format window openings. Below, I am including a picture featuring a glass wall of impact-resistant storefront systems that Astor Windows and Doors fabricated and installed in a house in Pinecrest, Florida. 

As it can be seen on the above picture, the bronze frame, clear glass storefront system looks great in this hallway, allowing plenty of natural light into the house. The custom grid configuration was a homeowner's choice since we had flexibility to design the panel layout. It should be noticed that the prominent aluminum profile gives a balanced, proportionate look to the total assembly.  On this particular project, the storefront systems were designed by PGT Industries and are Miami-Dade County approved for impact resistance.  The storefront wall was fabricated by Astor Windows and Doors, and glazed on the site. This means that we first fabricated the aluminum grid and then installed the glass on the site (performed the glazing).

If you are looking for to buy impact windows and like this system for your home, please contact us at sales@astorwindows.com or visit us online at Astor Windows.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Impact-Resistant Door Thresholds Approved for the High Velocity Hurricane Zone Requirements


Replacing existing swing doors for hurricane-rated, impact-resistant doors manufactured in Florida for the Florida weather conditions has its peculiarities.  For example, when installing a new impact door, the new door has to come with a threshold (the aluminium assembly part that goes on the bottom of the door frame) that is at least 1.5 inches in height.  For new construction projects, this might not be an issue since conditions can be worked out in advance to accommodate for the new threshold dimensions.  However, when working on existing properties on what we refer to as retrofit projects, then homeowners might find surprising how tall the new threshold is in comparison to the one being replaced for.  

For those potential client out there, we have created a short video with a 3D illustration featuring a scale-sized threshold for a PGT Industries's swing door, the Series FD101 French door. 

We hope you find this video useful.  If you are in the market for replacing your existing windows and doors for impact-resistant windows and doors, please call us at 305-328-9138 or visit us at www.astorwindows.com

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fall Protection and Egress Requirements at Bedrooms When Installing Impact Windows

If you are replacing the existing windows of your property for impact windows, you should know that the new windows must comply with the existing Florida Building Code egress rules. The Code stipulates that bedrooms must have at least two ways of egress in case of emergency. A door to a different room or to the outside counts as one way of egress. To comply, a bedroom has to have a second way of egress through a window or through another door, such as a patio door. If your bedroom does not have a patio door, then at least one window must have egress dimensions determined by the Code. The window must feature a clear opening that must meet all of the following criteria.

Egress Criteria
* Minimum width of 20 inches
* Minimum height of 24 inches
* Minimum net clear opening of 5.0 square feet at grade floor and 5.7 square feet otherwise.

It is very important that your window contractor takes into account this rule to avoid installing a window style that will not pass inspection. For example, a single-hung which is 37 inches wide by 50 5/8 inches tall does NOT pass egress. However, a casement window of the same dimensions does pass egress.

Fall Protection
Based on Section 1013.8 of the Florida Building Code 5th Edition (2014), design professionals must take into consideration a minimum window sill height if the opening is located more than 72 inches above the finish grade.  Where this condition exists, the operable part of a window must not be at less than 36 inches above the finished floor surface of the room in which the window is located.  If the operable window sill is less than 36 inches above the finish surface, then design professionals must specify other means of fall protection, such as installing guard rails that do not allow a 4-inch diameter sphere to pass through.

We created an video illustration below to further explain this particular condition.


video



Visit Astor Impact Windows for information about purchasing impact windows and doors. You can also email us at sales@astorwindows.com or call us at 305-328-9138.  If you have any questions or want to share additional information regarding this topic, drop us a comment below.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Installing New Impact Windows at Existing Canted Bay Window Conditions

Source: Astor Windows's Photo Archives

When retrofitting existing non-impact windows for new impact windows we find a number of structural conditions that do not meet the current Florida Building Code requirements. A bay window projects out of the outside of a building envelope as shown on the picture above.  The most common type we find in Miami is called canted bay windows, which have a flat front and angled sides.  Bay windows became very popular during the Victorian architectural era and still hold their appeal today.  When performing remove-and-replace jobs of existing homes in Miami Beach, Miami Shores, Coral Gables, South Miami and other non-incorporated Miami areas built in the 40's, 50's and 60's, we come across these types of windows.


Issue At Hand

There are typically two structural issues we encounter when replacing old bay windows for new impact windows: 

First, because these windows are set outside of the building envelope, the window header is most probable a wood-framed build-out.  This condition was designed and built prior to establishing the High Velocity Hurricane Zone requirements set in place today.  As a result, the window header might not be designed and anchored appropriately to windstand the lateral loads exerted by hurricane-driven forces.  This condition presents a problem for us.  Installing impact-resistant windows requires anchoring to either the main structure of the house or to members that are capable of transferring the loads to the main structure of the building. 


The second issue has to do with the connection between the window frame and the existing steel posts.  Existing bay windows have round metal posts (shown in gray in the illustration below) joining together the center window with the two flanking units.  Impact windows' frames must be installed to flat substrates, which is not the case when anchoring to a round post.  Hence, when encountered with these conditions, the window contractor needs to make modifications in order to comply with the product approval of the window being installed.


Solutions:

At Astor Windows, we have encountered the the above described scenarios several times.  For the missing header issue, we custom-fabricate a steel header (previously designed by a license structural engineer) anchored to the main structure.  For the second issue of the round post and flat window frame connection, we have fabricated a continuous u-channel aluminum (or steel) wedge anchored or welded to the existing posts.  This wedge solution has been designed by a license engineer and fabricated by Astor Windows's industrial welding technicians.  Refer to 3D illustration below for details.


Source: Astor Windows


Source: Astor Windows

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Permit Fees for Impact Windows and Doors

Untitled Page impact windows permit fees charged by municipalities
Homeowners planning to replace existing windows for impact-resistant windows always ask us how much permit fees will cost. The answer is not simple as each municipality has different formulas to calculate the permit fees.  To give our potential clients an idea of how much fees might be, we have looked at our accounting records.  The table provided below contains a short list of previous projects by municipality.  On this list, homeowners and our readers can learn how much our previous clients have paid for permit fees.  We have included the total project cost to provide a tangible point of comparison.  It is our understanding that project cost is one of the important factors municipalities use to calculate the permit fees due. In addition, they might use the square footage of glass replaced and the total number of different products installed (because they review each product approval).
Municipality Date Project Cost Permit Fee
City of Coral Gables 5/7/12 $17,800 $803.00
City of Coral Gables 7/13/12 $43,840 $1,244.27
City of Coral Gables 12/13/12 $22,329 $1,192.07
City of Coral Gables 2/12/13 $8,000 $294.64
City of Miami 2/29/12 $19,736 $172.84
City of Miami 1/27/13 $24,303 $194.44
City of Miami Beach 2/27/12 $23,948 $1,454.84
City of Miami Beach 7/27/12 $24,448 $565.64
City of Miami Beach 2/4/13 $89,600 $811.09
City of Miami Beach 3/20/13 $14,864 $477.65
City of Miami Springs 10/16/12 $15,690 $151.44
Miami-Dade County 2/15/12 $74,234 $151.04
Miami-Dade County 5/9/13 $14,284 $147.44
Town of Miami Lakes 7/2/12 $4,858 $111.94
Town of Surfside 4/5/12 $13,128 $481.98
Village of Biscayne Park 7/19/12 $4,390 $281.44
Village of Key Biscayne 12/20/12 $34,359 $3,157.45
Village of Key Biscayne 11/29/12 $7,743 $707.72
Village of Palmetto Bay 4/4/12 $17,955 $280.30
Village of Palmetto Bay 3/12/13 $10,285 $277.58
Village of Pinecrest 8/12/12 $21,975 $245.64
Village of Pinecrest 4/09/12 $35,000 $273.49
Village of Pinecrest 3/29/13 $21,975 $245.64
Source: Astor Windows and Doors Accounting
Important note:
Please understand that this list is provided for informational purposes only. Astor Windows cannot guarantee nor estimate in advance how much permit fees will be assessed in our future projects. We hope that this information proves useful during your research when in the market for installing impact windows and doors for your property.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

2010 Florida Building Code and the use of two methods to meet the energy-consumption guidelines

Photo of single-family home with impact windows and doors

After the 2010 Florida Building Code went into effect last March 15th, 2012, owners of new construction projects were required to comply with new energy-consumption guidelines, including maximum U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) values.  This post is written from the perspective of specifying and selecting the right glazing makeup of impact windows and doors that meet the Code.

To comply with energy requirements, designers have two methods they can choose from:  the prescriptive or the performance path. 

Prescriptive Path
With the prescriptive or pre-determined path, designers must ensure that the proposed impact windows and doors have a maximum U-value of 0.75 and a maximum SHGC of 0.30.  Windows and doors must bear the label with the energy ratings independently confirmed by National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).  Section 402.3.2 of the code specifies that when the U‐factor varies between the fenestration products, the use of area‐weighted averaging is allowed to satisfy the U‐factor requirements.  Fenestration products missing SHGC labels are assigned default values from Table 303.1.3(3).

Performance Path
As an alternative to using the prescriptive path described above, designers can opt for employing the performance path to meet the energy preservation code.   With the performance path, designers need to use an energy compliance software tool approved by the Florida Building Commission.  This analysis only includes heating, cooling and service water heating.  Using this software allows architects or mechanical engineers to perform a trade-off between U-values and SHGC ratings.  When using trade‐offs from Section 405, the area‐weighted average maximum allowed for fenestration SHGC is 0.50. Why is this trade-off important? To achieve low U-values,  insulated-laminated glazing is almost always needed, an option that is more expensive than just laminated glass. 

The information presented above is not intended to replace the code.  Equally important,  I cannot guarantee this information is completely accurate.  Instead, it is a quick reference for our potential clients who are designing new construction projects and are evaluating the available options for impact windows.  We want to ensure that they know they have two ways of meeting the energy requirements.  Hence, they should consult with the competent professional to ensure they can build cost efficiently.

For our potential clients, we provide the following information that could be useful when analyzing our proposal of impact windows and doors.

SHGC
The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how well a window blocks heat from sunlight. The SHGC is the fraction of the heat from the sun that enters through a window. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window’s SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits.

Facts about R‐values and U‐values
  • R values rate one single material versus U-values measure entire components.
  • R-values rate how much heat loss the material resists from passing through it.
  • U‐values rate how much heat the component allows to pass through it.
  • R-values measure how much heat loss passes through fiberglass insulation.  On the other hand,  U-values rate how much heat can pass through a window component (glass, air, aluminum frame).
  • The relationship between r-values and u-factors is R = 1/U.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Energy Conservation Code in Effect

Untitled Page 2010 Florida Building Code - Energy Conservation
Effective March 15th, 2012, the Energy Conservation Code will affect the glazing of impact-resistant windows and doors for both new construction and retrofit projects. Projects approved after March 15th will need to comply with maximum U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) values as shown in the table below:
Product U-Factor SHGC
Non-impact windows and doors 0.65 or less 0.30 or less
Impact-resistant windows and doors 0.75 or less 0.30 or less

The code states that both new contruction and renovation projects must comply with the values presented above. However, for renovation projects, the code is up to interpreration by the local building official. The Florida Statute defines a renovation as construction that exceeds 30% of the assessed value of the property. Per this statute, retrofit jobs that do not exceed 30% of the value of the property may not be required to meet the values above. Nevertheless, it is important to consult with the building official having jurisdiction before making a decision one way or the other.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Impact Windows and Vinyl Frames

Our clients always ask us for impact-resistant windows that meet current Energy Star criteria so they can obtain the Federal Tax credit. The reality is that aluminum-frame windows do NOT meet this criteria. To accomplish the insulating ratings required by the Energy Star program, we need to use hurricane windows made with vinyl frames. Unfortunately for Miami-Dade residents, there is only a handful of Miami-Dade-Approved impact vinyl windows.

How can I find out the list of approved products?
To obtain information about which impact-resistant products are Miami-Dade County Approved, our readers can check the Miami-Dade's Building Code Compliance Office. For your convenience, we compiled the list of approved impact windows as of July 04, 2010. The list can be found below. It is important to understand that this list will change overtime as new products are being approved and older products reach expiration.

Manufacturer Awning Horizontal Roller Single Hung Double Hung Casement Fixed
AWP, LLC No Yes Yes No No Yes
Benor Windows No No No No Yes Yes
Custom Window Systems, Inc. Yes No No No No No
Galaxy Windw and Door, Inc. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jeld-Wen, (FL) No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jeld-Wen, Inc(OR) Yes No No No Yes Yes
Kolde and Kolde Millwork Company No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Megrame U.S. Windows and Doors, LLC No No No Yes No Yes
PGT Industries, Inc No No Yes Yes No Yes
Pittburgh Corning Corporation No No No No No Yes
Rgency Plus, Inc No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Schuco USA, L.P. No No No Yes No Yes
Silver Line Bulding Products Corporation Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Teeem USA, LLC No No No No Yes No
YKK AP American, Inc No No Yes Yes No No
How to read the list above
The table shows different window types and which manufacturer has a Miami Dade product approval for the specific type. Also, you can find a window manufacturer up and down the list. If you run across the table, you can find out whether this manufacturer has the window type approved.