One of my wife's main gripes with the house is the kitchen. It's perfectly functional, and now that we ironed out a few bugs with all the new Top-Of-The-(Home Depot)-Line appliances, she's quite happy with them. The stove and dishwasher play different little melodies to tell you what mode they're in, along with other information if you learn the little audio codes. They both also have a display panel where you can override anything that might be going awry, a useful thing to have. The "flaw" with the dishwasher was caused by a poor installation (hot water valve barely cracked open), and the "flaw" with the stove/oven was an RTFM kind of thing. The ice maker/cold water dispenser in the fridge doesn't work due to there being no easy way to run a water line to it. That's one of the things to be addressed in the kitchen remodel, along with additional cabinet space, her main gripe with this kitchen. Since I finally learned all the ins and outs of the "Euro Style" hinges on all the cabinets, and replaced a bunch of mismatched hardware, I've got those all adjusted and closing, gaps nicely aligning, and looking good, so "non functional doors/drawers" is now a closed item on the squawk list. So, the kitchen is probably 95%+ in functionality, and maybe 65%~70% in style, and bumped down the list by her second most priority, which was new windows.
So, in a paradigm shift which surprised me, the wife called "Renewal by Andersen" to get a quote on new windows. These are high-end window replacements, and from the sample sections the guy brought, they're extremely well made and sealed. Most of the windows in the house are aluminum-framed "glider" windows, which means the slide side-to-side. The 3 windows in the Sun Room and the two side windows in the den are "casement" windows, which means they're crank-out windows, opening up by pivoting on the short side of the windows, and the entire window swings out. We had some of these in my Dad's house back in Illinois, and I love them. When you open the windows, they scoop up a nice breeze and direct it into the house.
BUT....when it's cold out (like below 20*), you can stand near one of the aluminum framed windows and almost feel it sucking the heat out of the house. And when it's warm out, the windows on the South side of the house absorb heat and the metal window frames radiate the heat into the room. The aluminum frames make a pretty good bidirectional heat sink!
The new windows are extruded from a proprietary compound made from wood bits and some kind of resin. Just looking at the cross section of the extrusion the new window frames are made from, it's apparent a lot of thought went into it, especially when compared to a cross section of a typical "vinyl" window that he brought with him. When the wife had the windows in the Long Beach house replaced, she went with an "economy class" vinyl window replacement, and all the windows came to about $5k, installed. My first wife and her husband had their windows replaced at the same time, and while they only had a couple of more windows than we did, and a sliding glass door, their bill came to about $18k, and man, could I ever see a difference in quality!
So, she popped for the Full Monty on the windows, and replacing all of them, with custom built windows, has a list price of about $37k........!
BUT...Andersen offers a 25% discount if you order in January, which knocks it down to a bit under $28k. With other rebates, Senior Citizen discounts, and some credits from our Home Energy Audit, we'll be down and done, with all new high-quality windows, for right about $21k. Since she just paid off her car, the cash for that will be diverted to the window replacement, and we'll get the loan paid off in less than two years.
Not quite the new kitchen she was thinking about (NEXT year!), but it's a worthwhile improvement to the house, and should cut down the heating bill in the winter.