solo window installations, DIY window installation, smart rigging tools

Building Efficency Lessons – Solo Window installations.

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

We understand that reducing labour on site can lead to significant cost savings when building a house. That’s why we strongly advocate for builders to use more advanced and efficient building systems. In today’s site visit, Matt explores ways of installing windows single-handedly with builder Josh – a task often perceived as slow and labour-intensive.

Josh demonstrates that even the largest and heaviest windows can be installed relatively easily with the right knowledge, careful planning, and precise execution.

Join Matt and Josh for an incredibly resourceful display of window installation prowess. Whether tackling projects solo or leading a team, Josh’s clever insights will have you re-thinking what’s possible with the right tools, knowledge, and mindset.

Mastering Solo Window Installations with Expert Tips and Tools – DIY Guide

Video Transcript

Build shows on the road today coming you from outside Boston. We’re visiting Steve Baczek. Steve, what do you got for us here?

Check this out. That is pretty sweet: shuco triple-glaze windows on a cart, not a lightweight window, not a lightweight window. And this is the small baby we got; they only get bigger from here. And so what are we doing today, Steve, on this video?

We are installing windows, but we’re installing windows in a totally different light than what we’ve ever shot videos on. The homeowner, Josh, he’s going to join us. He’s self-performing most of the work here at his house, and he’s going to show us how a “one-man show” installs these windows.

How about that? And not just small windows, but big windows. Big windows – today’s video: installing windows by yourself. Let’s get going.

Josh, thank you for having us to your job site man. Nice to see you here.

All right Josh, so you are a solo installer, you’re the GC on the job, you’re also doing a lot of the work yourself. And I got to tell you, your method for installing windows totally blew me away when I came to the job today. Thank you.

Talk me through, first off, your cart and your handling of these heavy windows. So, uh, the first thing: obviously shuco product is heavy, it’s triple glaze, it’s it’s a heavy frame. And it…the guys that do the installation, um, for the different companies, they do great work.

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Don’t want to under mind their quality and what they do, what they bring, the value that they bring for the cost. It just wasn’t…it just didn’t happen to be in my particular budget in this case.

So I had to devise a way of doing it myself. And in order to do that, I had to figure out how to get the windows from the driveway, which are in crates, into the house, and then through the house to the window opening, and then getting him into the window opening, okay?

Took a lot of kind of head scratching and figuring out how to accomplish that task. But but essentially it boiled down to getting it onto a platform that’s outside the door, and then getting it onto a cart that I could mobilize it.

And this…this does not like a look like a cart you bought at the home center, it’s not. I I looked and looked for ones that kind of fit my purpose. Uh, I wanted one that would fully swivel, that was narrow enough to go through doorways, and that would maintain some strength vertically so that the window, when I end up having a really big window on there, I don’t want this thing tipping one way or the other. And it takes a lot of force to to have to restrain that.

I like it. So torsion box probably just some 2x4s, you’ve got plywood on both sides to make it nice and rigid? And there’s…there’s actually wood in there, there’s actually two bays in that frame that hold all that, lag screw the lag screws for those wheels just to really get it reinforced to make it a true box.

And then it looks like you took a piece of ZIP R. I did and cut it down so you’ve got, uh, a lip here to make sure that window doesn’t kick out. You also notice that uh, shuco, and they ship their windows, they’ve got this piece of milky plastic which is strictly for shipping, uh, damage.

So you could actually roll that around and not worry about damaging the flange, right? Yeah, they use that to load the containers, actually, so they can slide them in and not damage the window. And then just basic ratchet strap to hold it on when you’re moving it.

All right Josh, tell me about this cool tool. This I’ve never seen before. So, uh, I I was super concerned about the being able to like use the hand manual style and just put them on pump it up and then go. I’m, I don’t do this all the time, so I wanted something that was a little bit more, uh, cautious about that.

So, uh, I found the grabo pro. Um, this will hold 392 pounds by itself on a vertical lift, holy cow. Um, and it self res, uh, restores that vacuum that starts to drive to drop, okay. The window doesn’t have to be perfectly clean, this will actually do things that aren’t even por, uh, that are not even non-porous. It’ll do uh granite slabs, it’ll do a lot of things that normally you wouldn’t want to do just a manual with, um. And it’ll re, it’ll revacuum that, that pressure. So that’s pretty sweet.

So show me how it works. Yeah, so so I’ll just put it to where it’s got four anchor spots on it, um, and I’ll just uh line it up to where one of the anchors is centered because I’m only going to be using one grab ball on this window because of the size of it, okay?

And I just put a little bit of pressure on it, uh, hit the green button, it activates. And what’s this 392 number? That’s the pound that it can lift safely. So if this starts to, once that goes green, you know that you’ve got that full force available.

Now it’s going to take 400 lbs to pull this off, correct? Holy cow, that’s awesome. Yeah, and if it starts to drop for whatever reason, if the glasses a little dirty, there’s a little dust, that vacuum starts to leak a little bit, it will automatically re-inflate or red deflate, okay.

So you mentioned this metal anchor, what are you using that for? To hoist it up using the come along into the window opening. I can’t lift a 600 lb window. All right, I I can’t either. I bet Steve can one-handed probably put this window in. But you’re going to roll this over here. And then what’s, what is what do you got going on with this, this setup here?

This is looks like just a standard calong that anybody’s going to have in the back of their truck. It is, yeah. So that’s a that’s a one ton calong, um, and so it’ll easily hold any of the windows, uh, by itself that I’m going to have to install, gotcha. And then what’s, how are you anchoring that to the building?

That’s about a 2500 lb capacity ding that you’d put like in the back of your truck or on a flatbed. They swivel, they have two bolts, uh, there’s two 3/8in bolts that go through that top plate just down the top. And that holds that ding right at the edge of that top plate to give you massive leverage to keep that thing from from spinning. So there’s no way that that thing’s going to come loose.

None of this is fancy or expensive. These are a little bit expensive. You could have probably worked with s regular suction cups you. Any idea what these things cost by the way? Those cost 400 dollars, okay, a piece, um, but for me compared to paying somebody to do the installation, it was just the price of admission to be able to do it effectively for me.

And the, the manual ones aren’t designed to hook on to things. I don’t know if they have ankle point point on them the same way. So I would have to like do a strap through the handle, and I don’t know if I would feel as comfortable with that that I would with this. It’s intentionally built for that purpose.

No fun to drop a window like this, no. And there’s a, there’s a lead time of getting one of these. If you happen to break it, you’re going to have a hole for a while.

I love it. All right guys, let’s actually uh transfer here to letting Josh do this install, and Steve and I will talk.

Now it’s off the cart, I got to bring it down so that I can actually uh switch it [Music] over, sweet. And now you just flip it around and do it on the frontside…oh, that’s interesting. It actually slides in that that way. It doesn’t [Music]…uh, yeah they are, that’s nice, that’s helpful. The window Be that’s closer. Now I’m just trying to lower it and kind of Center it in the window, yeah. And keep it on those shims, on the shims, yep. That’s awesome.

And then as soon as the weight goes transferred to the shims, and it see, you saw it just then drop below the opening, yep, into the opening, essentially. Okay, now come along has some slack in it at this point. The window is pretty much stationary, but it’s still not totally secure, yep.

So I’ll, uh, I’m on those shims, I’m not dragging the window on the stretch tape so I’m not damaging that. I can move it around. And that’s a plastic shim too, right? That is a plastic shim. Y…smart. It’s ABS plastic and it’s textured on the bottom and I did that so that it wouldn’t slide on the stretch tape. It would kind of like groove in a little bit. And the slick parts on the top so I can move it, super smart.

And so now you’re using these windbags, which are pretty off-the-shelf, not very expensive part, like 15, 20 bucks each, yep. And I think it’s interesting you’re using them on the sides first, not the bottom or the top, right? And the reason I’m doing this is to stabilize the window in the opening so that it’s not going to want to move when these things actually get, uh, tightened up, pretty well.

They’ll they’ll push 300 lb worth of weight, mhm. So when you lock it in place side to side, it’s not going to go anywhere, yeah. It’s and that’s not the cable, yeah, that’s the wind bag holding it in place. That’s awesome.

So now I can adjust it side to side. I can slide the wind bag underneath and shim it up a little bit if I need to, Y, um. I can square it in the opening, level it in the opening, by going diagonals or whatever I need to do in the opening. And then, uh, once that’s done, I’ll anchor it, uh, with all the screws, the mounting clips, um.

I don’t put any mounting clips in the bottom, um, on their fixed windows. You also don’t have any holes for the uh turbo screws in the bottom either, MH. I don’t do it in the bottom cuz I don’t need to, it’s sitting on something, right?

And those clips hold it, and with those shims, are you able to slide the wind bag under? Yeah, if you deflate that, if you go down all the way, yeah, if you totally, it’ll slide in there, you got enough space. That’s crazy, look at that, that’s awesome.

So I can lift it up, put whatever shims I want to, to Center in any direction, a sheet of 12 in x 12 in that I cut to roughly 2x 3, about the thickness of the the frame, yep. What’s the thickness on that sh…3/16, 3/16? Y, which is enough to get your airbag in there, exactly.

And and at this point, all you’re going to do is screw off the window, you’re totally…well he’s going to of course level it and verify it’s square and all that good stuff, right? Uh screw it off. And then he’ll later come to the outside and do the the taping, which is the weather barrier system, right?

I’ll use Sega tape on the outside, um. I’ll insulate in between using the regular, ly detailed that Steve has, uh, probably with either a backer rod and foam, or like you prefer, a sealant, an adhesive kind of flexible, stretchable sealant, um. And then I’ll use the Sega tape on the inside for the air barrier.

So I have a water resistant barrier on the outside, an air barrier on the inside, foam installation back dam will keep any water that does happen to get in there. It’ll give it a path to get out, um. It’s really just as you would say a bomber installation, bomber install man, yep yep. It’s I…we’re going to live here, you know, it’s kind of our forever home. So, uh, i’ I’ve been meticulous about all the details.

So thanks for all the stuff you guys have taught me, super super impressive man. Absolutely love it. I do want to point out one last thing that I think I forgot to mention, Steve, when he designed the house, detailed ZIP R 9 sheathing in the outside, uh. And by the way, Steve made a bunch of videos, uh, over here.

But you’ll notice that there ZIP on the jam side, which is a great detail because now that there’s continuity of the air and the water barrier. But also, it covers over that Pham on the outside, uh, so he’s got a nice continuous nailing flange, uh, and taping flange for that matter on the inside.

But y’all need to go see the rest of the videos that Steve made here because Josh did an incredible job on his foundation, on his framing, uh, all these walls were built in a factory and then brought out here. And, Josh, by the way, is going to use this exact same method to do this more normal sized window in this giant hole we’ve got right over over here, which is probably…that’s a 5 by 9, holy cow.

That’s a 5T by 9. You got like four or five of those. And what is that window, we do you think, 600 plus? Holy cow. And will you do the exact same method with the c along here?

And the only thing that I’ll change: the come along is a 2,000lb c along, we’re fine there, putting it on the top plate, we’re fine there. As long as we have some strength there between the top plate and something else, those particular ones,

What I’ll probably do is lag in a sheet, okay, of zip here, just to pro to kind of lock those two pieces together, the header plate and the top plate. That makes sense, lock that in, provide a little…probably don’t need it, but again, erring on the cautious side, yeah.

And then I’ll do the same thing again. I’ll just come along over the top. The only difference will be I’ll add more grabos, and I have a a vinyl coated steel cable with these clips on it. And I’ll just span that so that now I have the vinyl coated steel will go up and be able to do two grabos, and I could even do four if it feels like I need to. These are 392 pound rated each, which would work for a 600 lb window. But again, aing on the side of caution with the really expensive window, I’ll probably put four on just out of being one is a backup, almost like a redundant piece.

Josh, super impressive dude, love it. Steve, what a house man. It’s a…it’s all Josh there it, Go just talking about it. So it’s pumping back up to the 390 level or whatever, right? Yep, that’s pretty awesome. Super fun job guys. As I said, bunch of videos in this house. Y’all should be following Steve Basic on Instagram and he’s got a ton of content over on the build show.com. If you’re not currently a subscriber, hit that subscribe button below. We’ve got new content every Tuesday and every Friday, follow us on TikTok or Instagram, otherwise we’ll see you next time on the build [Music] show.

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