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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

  1. 2)Can you find a door, or pair of doors, that fits the width of the existing window? Exterior doors today are sold prehung, with the door frame already installed around the door and hinges in place, so you can take the total width of the prehung door with frame—plus an additional allowance for shimming it into place—to find a door that fits the opening. A wood stud wall with an exterior siding material (such as plywood panels or horizontal siding of vinyl, wood, or fiber cement) is the easiest construction type for cutting a window down to the floor and installing a door. There is a wood beam over the window, called a header, that transfers the weight of the wall and roof system above it to the sides of the opening, where there are double-studs for support. If you can leave all of that in place, it will save you money.
        You can also install a door that is smaller than the opening, with a side light or panel on one or both sides, or simply use a wide trim detail on the sides.
       Installing a door bigger than the the existing opening involves cutting out the existing header and side studs—while supporting the roof structure above it with screw-jacks—and installing a completely new structural framework around the opening. Much more expensive.
       Putting a door into a window location in a concrete block wall requires cutting out the block below the window with a concrete saw. Installing a door wider than the existing window is a much more difficult project that involves removing the existing concrete header and installing a new one, while also supporting the roof structure above it with screw jacks. Also much more expensive.

  2. 3)How far is it to the ground at the outside? You will need to provide a landing at a minimum, and possibly several steps or a stair.

  3. 4)There is likely an electrical conduit or cable running horizontally somewhere below the window, connecting receptacles around the room. It will have to be rerouted by an electrician.

  4. 5)All exterior doors for entry to a home are required by the building code to have two switches on the interior of the wall near the door: one turns on an exterior light so you can safely see where you are walking as you exit, and the second one turns on an interior light so you don’t stumble over furniture in the dark as you enter the room. They must be included as part of the new door installation.

  5. 6)If you have a security system, the new door will have to be wired into the system by the alarm company.

  6. 7)A building permit and inspection is required for a window to door conversion. If you live in a neighborhood with a mandatory homeowner’s association, you may also have to submit a plan for the project for their approval.

   Still gung-ho about adding a door to your home after all these considerations? Good! It can be an excellent home improvement project if carefully planned in advance, and done by a skilled building contractor.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

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