The Garage Door

This is a project that has been stuck on the back burner for so long, it’s all but dead.  But with a growing list of dependencies, this has finally come to the fore and is going to get underway.

Obviously, the change has been on the list for a long time, and it’s a pretty large project, which contributed to the project being pushed back.  One of the smaller projects – and one fairly recently added – was coming up, and that project is the elimination of the backyard shed.  But I couldn’t get rid of the shed until I had a place to put everything in it, which would be the garage.  Also, there is a growing need/desire for a new vehicle, and I swore to myself that I would not buy a new car until I had a place to store it out of the elements, which would be… the garage.  So, with the funds saved up now, the time has come.

I had actually half-started the project a while ago when I was getting the pool redone, but let it drop because having two large projects at once was too much to deal with.  So this time, I started over from scratch.  I don’t even remember which company I talked to last time, but this time, I chose two candidates that seemed to be well-established players in my area.

The first one I called was eager enough, but when I explained the current complications, they backed off.  The complication is that there is no garage door opening.  The old homeowners converted the garage to a game room and closed it off.  This company only does garage doors.  Tear out that wall and then call them back, pretty much.  You should be able to take it out yourself.  Yeah…

The second company I called also hit the brakes when I said there was a wall in place, but they then suggested I talk to their designer about how to handle this.  Thank you, that’s what I’m looking for.  You must have someone who has dealt with a situation like this before.  I got transferred and ended up in voice mail.  When I got the call back, we discussed what kind of door I wanted (I have no idea what’s available), and what size (regular?).  We talked about the wall and she said she had a contact who worked at the company who can do the removal.  Perfect.  That’s what I need is a recommendation.  She said she’d email me the details that night (which she did, at 10:30!).

When shopping for garage doors, you will find a lot of places that compete solely on price, with blaring headlines like, “Home of the $799 garage door!”  I really do know better than that, and my last go-around, I got a rough quote that completely dispelled that sales line.  The old quote was $1500 for everything installed, and a guess of $1000 for wall removal.  So I had a mental budget of $3k.  Already far from the $800 sales pitch.  The email I got included some rough pricing.  The door would be between $950 and $1550, depending on 3 different models, the opener: $425, plus trim, bracket, framing, and permit costs.  It was nice to see all the pieces broken down instead of one number.  And it was very nice to see exactly what kind of door was offered.  $1500 for everything.  What is everything?

The biggest cost under my control was the door itself, so then it was time to get educated.  A search for the offered door models found the manufacturers website with a brochure of the features and available options.  Starting with the construction, the lowest model is kind of a no-go, because it’s essentially sheets of metal – no insulation at all.  The difference between the mid and top tier is whether the inside wall on the other side of the insulation is vinyl or steel.  It’s a $150 price difference between the two, rather small difference unlike the $450 jump between low and mid tier.  The top tier gives you more insulation and better sound deadening, but when reviewing the available options, I found the door style I wanted was only available on the top tier.  I wanted a flat front style, instead of the small inset boxes or large inset boxes.  So I guess that settles that.

While I was reading the brochure, I caught a term that demanded more research, “wind-load”.  That conjured up memories of me arguing with my homeowners insurance that my roof was installed with “wind mitigation”.  I didn’t want to have such an argument about my garage door, so I did a lot more reading.  It seems that making your garage door hurricane resistant involves adding thick braces to the top and bottom of each panel to prevent them from buckling under pressure or impact, putting retainer clips on every roller to prevent them from detaching from the track and carriage, and adding more points of track attachment to the wall.  It is doubtful that these things are included in a basic install, even though the garage door will nonetheless need to be installed to local code requirements.  Being up to code is good, but better is better, and would keep me in the good graces of my insurer, and will improve the marketability of the house at some future date.

Another branch of research involved the opener.  There’s plenty of openers out there, and there never really seems to be any discussion about them.  When you get a new door installed, or buy a new house, you just get whatever’s offered.  When it fails, you go to Sears, Lowe’s or Ace and buy whatever they have.  I guess now, there’s differentiators like smart devices with WiFi and apps and blah blah, but I’m not interested in having my door controlled remotely by me or anyone else.  So when I look at the specs for the opener, most of the details just made me shrug, except one that I hadn’t seen before.

Openers have for a very long time been chain driven.  They have always been loud, too.  Then screw drive came along and things were quieter and smoother.  Now, they have a third option: belt drive.   No noise and rattle of chain drive, no need for the lubrication of screw drive.  I’m excited for this.  Clean and quiet is what I want.  But belt drive is an option and I’m not sure it’s the default option.  So now I have two questions for the designer and possibly two additional expenses.

At this point, I am basing my estimates on the top tier door with no windows (which would surely be extra) at $1550, the offered opener at $425, and all the required parts and expenses, giving me a total of $2550.  Then I’ll have whatever it costs for removal of the wall.  Setting my mental budget for $3k early kind of softens the blow, since my old quote was $500 under and I hope I’ll only be $500 over now.  That remains to be seen.  But for right now, I am a lot more educated about garage doors.