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10 Questions for Suntech

Vincent Berkun, general manager, Suntech of Fairfield County

1 What are some trends you’re seeing in building and remodeling?
People are beginning to invest in their homes more instead of selling the house and upgrading. People tend to upgrade their windows because it’s a clear way to add equity to the home while creating a more comfortable living space. And you are protecting the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.

2 What’s hot as far as windows go?
Wood is very hip these days. People really like the warmth and comfort that wood provides. There are also some interesting custom glass products such as SmartGlass, which is a switchable privacy glass. This glass is amazing; it literally goes from clear to opaque with the flip of a regular light switch!

3 And doors?
 Doors are so important. They’re really the very first impression someone gets of your home. Suntech is right on the cutting edge of offering boutique doors. You can have a door custom built without the hassle of dealing with the larger companies out there. The quality, craftsmanship, and, most importantly, the look are what matters.

4 How should homeowners budget for windows and doors when they’re building or remodeling?
 I would say 10 percent to 25 percent of your home’s value should be in the windows. It’s really obvious to me that when you look at the square footage of the walls, windows make up a good portion of the house.

5 How do the right windows and doors help save energy?
A house loses air from the bottom to the top. The first thing to do is to insulate the attic area. The second step is to fix your windows and doors to keep air from getting in. As a side note, many people seem to believe that vinyl windows are more energy efficient that wood windows. We really have seen a difference in some wood window manufacturers, such as Bonneville, where the specifications on the wood windows are far better than almost all vinyl windows. In fact, these new wood windows have such a tight seal and protective qualities that they meet or exceed almost all federal guidelines without any modifications.

6 At what stage in project planning should homeowners (or professionals) be thinking about windows and doors?
If you plan from the beginning, you can maximize your investment by shopping vendors. The big three window makers tend to have good deals only on stock sizes. When you pick one of those right out of the box, you are going to get a stock size to keep the costs down, when in reality, you deserve to have windows that are fine-tuned for your architectural perspective.

7 How do you work on custom projects when historic homes are being restored? Can you match old windows?
We can get windows from many different vendors at very different price points. We can match almost any window, from wood to steel, with
a similar material or even fiberglass! The real consideration when looking at the windows is: Are they still historically significant? There can be such a hodgepodge that sometimes a rehabilitation of the old windows is just not possible. Yet, as a rule, I would do that first and maybe use a historical storm window.

8 Tell us about the best value you offer in windows.
The best value in a wood window is Bonneville. I can’t say enough about this company—from their technical support to their commitment to engineering and products research. Their windows are such a value, and they beat almost any other vendor with their stock configurations when it comes to the design specifications. Their aesthetic appeal is bar none and they come in custom sizes as well.

9 Most unusual installation?  
We helped build a glass house that was see-through. You could look from the garage to the back yard.

10 How long should quality windows last?
They should last 15 to 30 years, depending on the environment. If you live by the ocean, the conditions are caustic and can reduce the life of the windows. If you have a wood lot, it can be very moist and that also affects the windows. These are important design considerations. You may not want an oak window if you live by the ocean, for instance, when mahogany is going to last twice as long. Our windows by Bieber, for example, are kiln-dried using microwave technology to ensure that each window is precisely tuned to a specific moisture content. Our windows by both Swiss Shade and Bieber have a cladding system that keeps the cladding separate from the wood to ensure there is no rot. What’s interesting is that these companies had to create a warranty program just for the United States because in Europe, many people simply expect a window to last forever!

57 Wilton Rd
Westport, CT 06880