My Off The Grid Project – Improper Window Installation in Faswall Brick

Well, this season has been a long one fixing a ton of issues by my very infamous and prior general contractor. It has been painful, and pretty expensive. I think this video shows you just how difficult it can be to fix incompetent and crappy work done by a contractor. The solution, in order to properly seal and case the windows, cost pretty much the same as the original windows, doors to include installation and that was doing a lot of the work myself.

I basically had two options: 1) pull out all the windows and doors and start over or 2) try to work with what I had and come up with a unique, and not off the shelf solution. I chose solution 2, but no matter what they would both be expensive and painful fixes, so I could have probably just flipped a coin.

A little background – The windows were countersunk into the Faswall wall construction, which if they were countersunk correctly would not have been a big deal. Still not what I asked for, but it would have been a far easier fix. But my brilliant former contractor, for some reason countersunk them beyond the window surrounding that is used for casing. Basically, my windows were way too far back to properly seal, put trim around and then install my siding. Throw in the fact the sub-framing for the windows was like Swiss cheese, and no vapor barrier was used, you now see how bad of a job this was. Matter of fact while trying to come up with a solution I showed pictures of the installation to several contractors, to include the county building inspector, and all they could do was shake their head in disbelief.

gary's off the grid project using faswall

off the grid project faswall brick

This was the final straw along with stealing all my usable materials that got him and his (convicted felon son), which he did not disclose, and was asked about prior to the job, fired! This is always key, ask about the criminal history of the GC and his employees. I made it very clear because of my background in law enforcement that no one with a criminal history, especially in the area of drug use, sale or distribution was allowed on the property. Sure he lied, but I did ask, I made the mistake of not getting it in writing. Lesson learned. Trust me on this one, I’m all about second chances, but when we are talking about my home, and people having access to my all my possessions, this one I’m not flexible on and you shouldn’t be either.

Sorry, I got off track, but I think the above is some excellent information and advice.

The damage was done, and as you can see it was a real pain in the you know what to get fixed. I would estimate it took my helper and I about 5 times the original time to fix, than it took to improperly install the windows and doors by my original contractor.  Oh just wait until I get to how I had to fix the improper ventilating and sealing of the crawl space, that is another fun one.

Thankfully, I have a great contractor now and we tag teamed this project over several weekends. There was some trial and error, but in the end I came up with a good solution that looks good, and now the windows should never leak.

Here are the steps I ended up taking to fix this issue:

  • Seal window sub-frame gaps with Big Stretch caulking
  • Seal window sub-frame with RedGard liquid water barrier sealer
  • Notch cut cedar 4×4 to fit into and around window countersunk framing
  • Cut and sand bottom 4×4 cedar pieces with 8 degree slope for water drainage
  • Secure 4×4 notch cut cedar with 6″ heavy duty wood screws
  • Seal all 4×4 cedar around window enclosure with Big Stretch caulking
  • Cased 4×4 cedar with 1×4 grain pattern SmartTrim
  • Seal all SmartTrim with Big Stretch caulking
  • Two coats of primer
  • Two coats of semi-gloss paint

off the grid project faswall

off the grid project windows

off grid project faswall windows

gary's off the grid project

As you can see this was a very detailed and time consuming fix. I’m pretty confident I did this in a way that has never been done before, but it was necessary in order to do things right.

The lesson… crappy work takes way longer to fix than the original crappy work!


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