Can you bring balance to my windows?
September 1, 2018 2:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm building a home! It's my first! It's exciting, except one thing - one of the windows on the front of the house is terribly placed. I don't know the right term for it - off center? asymmetric? I'm looking for other similar examples to prove I'm not the only one with this issue, and to determine if there's anything I can do to draw attention away from the window.

You can see what I'm talking about here. Unfortunately, I missed the placement on the blueprints (although, in my defense, it's not nearly as noticeable there), so the builder has (fairly) refused to do anything about it. I'm trying to come to terms with it before I close, so I'm not moving into a house I'll hate every time I look at it.

I haven't found a good search term that results in people with a similar problem. Is there a term for this I'm missing?
I'm also wondering if there's something I can do to draw attention away from how uneven it is - perhaps a certain style of shutter?
Or will I just need to give up and pay to have it moved 2 feet to the left later down the road?
posted by kryppuk to Home & Garden (26 answers total)
If I were in your shoes I would put a lattice with a flowering vine up the left hand side, leaving the windows centered in the remaining space.

Or, as you say, just move one of them.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:14 AM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Instead of moving the window I am betting it would be less expensive to replace the window on the left with a wider window making. Making the margins to the windows even would mostly correct the imbalance and would likely sit better to your eye.
posted by a22lamia at 3:47 AM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

If that were my house, I would just move that window. It sucks to have to do *now* when the siding and sheetrock are already in, but it's not the end of the world.

When your builder says they won't do anything about it, I assume what they mean is that they won't do anything about it for free? That's reasonable, although a better builder would have alerted you to the issue during construction. Granted, modern plan-built houses do all kinds of incredibly stupid things with window placement, so I can see why they'd just shrug and build it.

They'll definitely do it if you pay them. Ask for a quote for a change order to move the window and to fix the siding and sheetrock around it. It can definitely be done, it's just more work than any reasonable builder would be willing to do free of charge. I'd expect to pay something like $1,000 to have it done, but if I were having an entire house built I would consider it well worth it because that window placement would annoy me forever.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:19 AM on September 1, 2018 [18 favorites]

Just suck it up and pay to move the window now. It’s going to drive you nuts forever, otherwise.
posted by amro at 4:29 AM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Is there something about the interior wall/door placements which dictates that the windows be where they are? If yes, then a balancing feature might help. If the window can be moved, then I'd agree with Anticipation that this stone in your shoe likely isn't going to feel better as time goes by.

One other thing - if you can move a window, you could consider moving the right side window to the left so that it balances. To my eye, that ties the three projections in that triangle together, and gets the right side of the right window out of line with the right-hand garage door trim. Although you frequently want to align elements vertically, I'm not sure that this is one of them.
posted by bullatony at 4:36 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's no structural reason for the windows to be where they are, although they do both happen to be in the center of the room they're in.

The builder won't move it because they are already behind schedule on our house (due to storms this summer), and have another lined up after they are finished with ours. I don't mind paying to have it moved, and would consider finding someone to do it after closing.
posted by kryppuk at 5:16 AM on September 1, 2018

Yeah, OK. That's understandable I guess. You're going to want a good handyman at some point anyway (doesn't sound like your builder wants a long-term relationship) so you might as well start working on finding one right away.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:35 AM on September 1, 2018

Find out his supplier so you can order a wider one that matches - one with 4 mullions - and extend it towards the corner of the house. Widening means you won’t have to re-side (if done carefully by someone who knows what he's doing). It's not that expensive to have done.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:56 AM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I really like the idea of the wider window. Probably even cheaper than moving it.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:03 AM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

...actually, if you can get one that's twice the width, I think it would look nice. My 1913 house had a narrow & wide layout and I liked it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:04 AM on September 1, 2018

I redid, in painstaking detail, a gutted home and was super ocd about it. However, the placement of your windows doesn't bother me at all. I automatically assume there is a good reason for it. You can pull one closer to the center and then they seem too close together. You can push one further out and now they're too far apart.

I vote for let go and spend the money on something else.
posted by cacao at 6:28 AM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this would work as a therapy, but when I drive around and look at the backsides of new homes, the second floor windows are almost always irregularly placed. I assume they make sense on the inside, but they look wacky from the outside. Otherwise, if you painted the white trim or downspout on the right hand side to match the background color, would that 'even things out' at all?
posted by puddledork at 7:00 AM on September 1, 2018

There's no structural reason for the windows to be where they are, although they do both happen to be in the center of the room they're in.

If I were you, I'd think about whether it is better to have the windows positioned properly for the rooms they're in. If you move one, will it drive you nuts every day when you go into that room & the window is off-center? Will that mess up your furniture placement?

I'd focus more on how things look from inside, where you have to see the windows multiple times every day, rather than the outside, where you just see it when you're coming or going.
posted by belladonna at 7:16 AM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

Ideally I’d widen both windows so that they are the same distance from the edge of the wall and the same width. I like double-wide windows anyway. But that will affect how they sit in the rooms on the inside, so you have to consider which asymmetry will bother you more.
posted by mai at 8:09 AM on September 1, 2018

A new double-wide window could easily run to $1000 all on its own, depending on grade. It would most likely be cheaper to keep the window you already have. You're not going to be able to return it now that it's been installed.

I do agree that it would look best if both windows could be moved slightly to split the difference, but failing that I think your best look would be to move the left window further left.

I do think it should be moved. It's not on the back of your house, it's above your driveway on a wall that greets you every time you come home. It will probably look fine from within the room, there's uaually no need for interior placement to be symmetrical especially if there's only one window on that wall of the room. Once you put furniture in it'll all be thoroughly asymmetrial in there regardless.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:35 AM on September 1, 2018

My first thought from the exterior shot was that there was a wall of closets on the left side, and that the windows had been centered on the interior space. Since you say that is not so, I'm truly amazed that they would space them like that.

My second thought is that I would go for a very large central window, perhaps with a bowed top, so that it formed a centered wall of lights across 2/3 of the garage opening. That should leave plenty of siding to do the sides without buying more, and probably reduce the amount of sheetrock work to almost nothing. That said, the cost of said window might well be prohibitive, but it would certainly enhance resale ability.

It also depends on whether this is a bonus room above the garage, or your master bedroom. To look at it from outside is one thing, but to have to lay in bed and look at it as well...
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:41 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Given the expense and hassle of moving the window, I'd definitely at least start with a lattice and flowering vine up the left side of the house, which may end up looking absolutely gorgeous. Depending on where you live and the level of support you want to provide, anything from a potato vine to a bougainvillea to a wisteria would look stunning.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:56 AM on September 1, 2018

Fwiw, and just on the basis of that one picture, I really don't think it's a big deal. It feels like it could even become endearing over time (and a window in the middle of a room probably does give a little more light than one nearer to a corner). Like another poster above, I'm pretty OCD about these things.

So just another voice saying there's nothing objectively wrong with it, but if it bothers you that much, that's legitimate too.
posted by trig at 9:09 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Going from what the OP said, we're dealing with two rooms of slightly different sizes, with each window centered on the interior side of the wall of its respective room, but with no regard for how it would look from the outside. Sloppy design by the architect. I still say that a really good builder would have suggested making this adjustment from the outset.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:33 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's no structural reason for the windows to be where they are, although they do both happen to be in the center of the room they're in.

That is the structural reason. You live on the inside, not the outside. Nobody is going to notice or care except you. If you think an off-center window on the outside makes you crazy, an off-center window inside in the room will drive you to drink.

Do nothing. It's fine. If you are even aware of this in a year, put some house numbers up vertically or hang a flag or something.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:03 AM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

The window on the right is smaller, probably a bathroom. The sooner you make a change the better, so tell the builder it must be done or hire a carpenter to just do it, maybe a crew member? Personally, I would live with it; symmetry is over-rated.
posted by theora55 at 10:22 AM on September 1, 2018

My sense of symmetry or love of asymmetry would be satisfied with the placement of some decorative object in the left-most space as suggested above. I think I would go for a large piece of flattish art that is made to be outdoors.
My neighbors have an almost identical garage door and gable end wall as you approach their house and the chimney and one window are not perfectly in symmetry but it looks great.
posted by Hobgoblin at 10:56 AM on September 1, 2018

I don't agree that having the windows central to a room is important (or even desirable). Offsets can make bed/furniture easier - it all depends on the dimensions of the room and what's going into it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:38 AM on September 2, 2018

Bite the cost, and move the left-hand window.

As a buyer, if I saw that install, I'd doubt the quality of both the builder and the designer (what were they thinking? Seriously).

As an aside, I'd also frame it to both builder and designer that you are supremely unhappy, and ask if they would rather cut you a deal on the fix (or, in the case of the designer, assist with the fix -- seriously, that is egregious), or put up with you letting others know that neither party has an eye to aesthetics, or customer service.
posted by liquado at 9:38 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Since the windows are in the centre of their respective rooms, it's not as simple as just moving the window. It's a design issue, but there's not a lot you can do about that now.

I would try to think of some kind of decoration to put on the left. DarlingBri's ideas for house numbers or a flag could work, otherwise the idea of lattice to grow a plant could be cool as well.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:49 AM on September 3, 2018

Alternatively, a bigger window on the left might make up for this asymmetry since the current issue is that the windows appear to be the same size without being evenly spaced. Different sized windows which are not evenly spaced wouldn't bother me as much.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:53 AM on September 3, 2018

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