This month we take a look at two big shutter topics. The first topic regards how to design and install shutters for difficult and unusual structures. The second is the importance of excellent shutter installers. Many homeowners have unusual windows and are puzzled about how to cover them, especially arched and slanted windows. And because shutters are relatively difficult to install compared to other window treatments, homeowners should demand highly skilled professional shutter installers. Our installation supervisor, Kevin Warren, recently installed an impressive array of shutters for slanted windows, and his experience demonstrates the right way to approach each of these topics. Here is my dialogue with Kevin.
Richard: Kevin, you produced a truly spectacular installation. The photos are quite dramatic and show that installing those shutters must have been challenging. Tell us the homeowner’s goal in shuttering that entire side of the A-frame home.
Kevin: As you can see, the home is an A-frame in the mountains. There is plenty of glass looking out onto the forest. The homeowners wanted to control heat and light while keeping the view intact and preserving the beauty of their home. They had no idea of how to accomplish their objective through window treatments. Eventually, they realized that only shutters would provide what they wanted for their home.
Richard: The reason the customers wanted that array done on that A frame–light control, privacy, how did shutters solve their problem?
Kevin: The first desire of the homeowners was to control light and heat. Although the big array of windows on that side of their home provided a spectacular view of the trees, it wasn’t energy efficient and the continual impact of sun during daylight hours threatened to fade their floors, furniture, and artwork. The shutters were designed with large louvers that, when fully opened, allowed that beautiful view to flow into the home. But when the louvers were partially closed in either direction, the house cooled down and the interior was protected from fading. When the louvers are fully closed, there is a near blackout and plenty of energy efficient insulation, totaling removing the impact of the sun and, of course, providing privacy.
Richard: How is special care taken with rake tops in designing and measuring?
Kevin: Special care is taken on every opening, door or window, every day. The key to a perfect shutter installation happens when the installer does his precision remeasurement. When I arrive in the home to precisely remeasure the windows for shutters, I visualize the finished product, I can prevent any problems in advance. Every home is different and the factory cannot see what the installer has seen with his own eyes. As an installer, this skill takes years of experience to develop. I am the eyes of the factory and I must get it right the first time. At The Shutter Source, we take great joy in having the lowest error rate in the industry, due to our experienced installation crew. Our low error rate results in lower product and customer service costs, which we pass onto the homeowner. That is one of the reasons why we are able to offer top quality shutters at such a low price per square foot.
Richard: How is special care taken installing rake tops?
Kevin: Again, the secret is in my precision remeasurement of each window. Installing shutters isn’t like installing other kinds of window treatments. Precision is key. Each window is at least slightly different, even if from a cursory glance it looks the same. And for the slanted windows, I do special templates. A professional shutter installation requires the right tools and attention to detail. When it comes to slanted windows and such a big array, it just requires greater attention to detail. You can see the result in the photos of the installation.
Richard: What is involved in such a big shutter array?
First and foremost, my priority is the customer’s happiness. When I arrive for the remeasurement, I help the customer visualize the finished product and how it will provide them with exactly what they want. Most customers realize that we are professionals and can handle the job with ease and grace. This particular job required not only ten foot high scaffolding but ladders on top of that. This was 23 feet to the top. Good balance was required and you cannot be afraid of heights.
Richard: What was the homeowner/customer’s response/reaction when they saw the completed installation?
Kevin: The homeowner was excited from the get-go. She purchased this from a special sale we held and saved an extra $1,000. When we put the last two windows in at the top section, she absolutely was very happy. She actually sent her husband pictures from her smart phone all the while I was installing her shutters. So he got to enjoy the experience with her.
Richard: What was your experience in doing this installation? Also, how did you feel about it while doing it and when it was finished?
Kevin: As always, as a finish carpenter, I get excited about the challenge of creation and being able to manage the installation without any problem. My goal is always to get it done correctly on the first trip. Customers want the same. They have very busy lives, too, and never want to be inconvenienced with having to accommodate our making additional trips. Customers are always surprised how easy we make it look and how smooth our installs go. We leave the job site clean and tidy. I enjoy the installation process itself the most because the shutters change a room dramatically and customers are always happy with the finished product. That is what truly feeds me.
Richard: Thank you, Kevin. By setting such high quality standards, you are the main reason our customers rate us so highly.