The North side of our house is very close to the neighbors house. Like us, they have a sidewalk down the South side of their house, but unlike us they have a bay wall on the side of their house that’s cantilevered over the basement on both the first and second floors, similar to our second-floor-only bump-out. That means in places their house is less than two feet away from ours. Given that, when we drew up our plans, I eliminated all of the windows on the North side. While they bring in some indirect sunlight, the view wasn’t anything to get excited about and removing them simplified things like the stair landings and potential furniture arrangements. Plus, windows have lower insulation values than a wall assembly, so we’ll lose less heat.

We removed the windows on the first floor a few years ago. Ha! looking back at that post I was still hoping we could partially spray foam. As it turns out, they use a fire protective coating on the spray foam that additional spray foam won’t bond to. As a result, you put it all in at one time or you don’t put in any. But I digress. Removing windows on the second floor when there isn’t even room to put a ladder up outside added to the complexity of the project. Instead, I worked out a way to close them up entirely from the inside. Fortunately, the first window was the small pantry window that had been buried in the wall. It actually has vinyl siding over it on the outside, so if I wasn’t planning on doing it from the inside before, I certainly was now.

The pantry window (buried in the wall) covered by siding

Because our house is balloon framed, the windows don’t have jack and king studs with a header. Instead, they simply cut a hole in the framed exterior wall, added a partial stud on either side of the opening, and called it a day. To close these in, we just sistered to the studs on the sides of the hole, with replacement framing for the vertical studs that had been cut. Sarah’s dad, Mike, helped me pick up the five sheets of ¾” plywood for sheathing.

Doing this from the inside meant that after I removed the existing window, I needed to completely frame the replacement studs and sheathing, along with house wrap stapled to the exterior. Then I fit the assembled framing into the hole from the inside. The downside of this approach was getting the house wrap tucked to the outside so it would cover the gap between the old sheathing and the new and create a proper drainage plane. However, the house wrap will likely all get redone when we replace the siding. For the time being, it’s mostly to protect the sheathing in the absence of siding.

I ran into an extra challenge with the window over the stairs, and had to build scaffolding from boards, plywood scraps, and a ladder. This wasn’t the safest work environment, particularly when lifting the heavy pre-assembled framing into the hole and then finding it didn’t completely fit on the first try. In order to reach the top so I could screw things in and trim one of the studs, I didn’t really want to put a stepladder on top of the scaffolding, so instead I climbed up into the attic and reached down from above. I managed to complete everything without accident.

The last window I did was above the landing, near the top of the stairs. It required a smaller makeshift scaffold than the one over the stairs, but I saved it for last because I noticed the sheathing above and to one side of the window was rotted, as well as the stud adjacent to the window. I cut out the rotted sections and put in the new stud and sheathing above the window opening first, since I could slide it in behind the remaining siding. With that done, I then put in the pre-assembled framing for the window opening from the inside, just as I had for the others. Fortunately, the rest of the sheathing and studs in the house are in pretty good shape, despite innumerable leaks in the siding, soffits, roof, gutters, windows, and trim. My next job will be removing the second floor back door, which currently opens to about a twenty-foot drop.

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