House on notification from old windows. The Pole got them for whiskey
Real estate is becoming more expensive, especially in large cities. According to Eurostat data, in 2010–2020 the average housing prices in the EU increased by almost 29%. In Poland, these increases were very close to the EU average, but in countries such as Estonia, Luxembourg and Hungary the differences are even greater (+113%, +100% and +91% respectively). That is why in our region there is so much interest in alternative ways of having your own place, which we show as part of the "Live differently" series. So far, we have written, inter alia, about single-family blocks built on small squares or year-round yurts.
House on notification from old windowsHouse on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
Now we talked to Tomek Cinal, who practically builds a house on application with a glass facade made of old windows.
Where did the idea for the house from the windows come from?
Tomek Cinal: The clearing on which I build this house surrounded by forest has been in my family for years, it still belonged to my great-grandfather. Since childhood, I dreamed of building something on it. The opportunity to implement this idea came only when I came to Poland in March 2020. I was planning to stay only for a week, and then return to Norway for at least half a year, where I worked as a chef. However, a pandemic broke out, the restaurant was closed, so I stayed in the country and stayed with my sister. One day I went to my great-grandfather's clearing and I decided that if I would be in Poland for a longer time, I could finally make my dream come true. I decided to put up the so-called the house was available on request, so I didn't have to take care of a lot of formalities and the construction started quickly.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
As for the facade itself, I was looking for inspiration that will allow me to fully use the potential of the plot, and more precisely, a picturesque view of the pass located between two mountains in the Little Beskids. Such a possibility was offered by projects with the use of a large number of panes, so I was looking for something in this climate. I could not afford large glazing, because a 4.5 x 5 m glass would probably cost tens of thousands. zloty. I also didn't want to introduce any modern solids with plastic windows or metal frames. Then I came up with a project by a couple from the US state of Virginia, who decided to move out of the city and build a house by the lake at a low cost. So they started going to flea markets and collecting old wooden windows, frames, doors etc. They put this building together from other people's stories. None of the items were bought in the store, everything had a soul. This inspired me to create a similar project.
Is your facade also made of used windows?
Yes, this is a great story in general. I found old casement windows on OLX and it turned out they were put on display by someone who lives literally a kilometer from my house. When I went to get them, the owner asked how I want to use them, because if I plan to smoke them, for example, I won't get them. She explained that 50 years ago, her husband's father had made them by hand, who now has a great fondness for them and wants them to be of use to someone else. Therefore, when replacing them, he numbered individual elements and carefully cut the frames, instead of breaking them with a crowbar, and finally sorted everything on pallets. When I said what I need windows for, I heard that I have to come back in the evening and meet my husband. We liked each other and I got these windows for a bottle of good whiskey. It was not the end anyway, because later Andrzej helped me a lot.
There were more such acquaintances and opportunities with OLX. I bought the timber for the roof trusses for half the price from people who had kept it under their shelter for 3-4 years, so it was practically new. It was similar with the facade, which was made of shuttering boards. I traveled to construction sites and bought them for PLN 250, which is over three times cheaper than new ones, although they were used only once to make the formwork, which made them even better, because they were impregnated with concrete. On OLX I also found an over 100-year-old stove that I brought from Milówka.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
I used old elements not only because of the costs, but also so that it would not be a crap and to build in accordance with the art. I do practically everything myself, although I do not have much experience, because before that I only did finishes such as plastering or painting walls. I acquired a lot of knowledge on YouTube, where every detail is explained step by step. I also talked to various professionals. I really wanted attention to detail and solidity of the entire structure. For this reason, it was all not as cheap as I assumed at the beginning. The point is that on OLX I found, for example, a beautiful lamp from 1979, which cost 250 zlotys. This is theoretically a great price compared to the one from the store, but the old lamp has to be prepared. I had to sand it, paint it, replace its electronics, screw in bulbs supporting plant growth and install a touch sensor. As a result, it cost PLN 900, which is as much as a new one. That is why I am laughing now, when I remember that, having in my head the use of old elements, I initially said things like "20,000 zlotys and this house will stand". Meanwhile, in almost two years, I spent over 100,000. PLN, and the construction is not finished yet.
Did you have to renovate the windows so much?
Yes of course. If you buy new windows for a dozen or so thousand PLN, then you just put them in. I got mine practically for free, but I had to spend hundreds of hours on them. There are probably 48 of these windows and each of them had to be sanded, putty out of it, lined the glass, cleaned, reinserted, painted, and finally put on silicone and sealed. Initially, I was very motivated to do it, but I have to admit that when after a year I had one more to do, I was a bit fed up. In the end, it was worth it, because such windows create a completely different atmosphere in the interior than the new type. Of course, they have some drawbacks. When a really strong wind comes, they give in to it and you can feel that it is blowing. Sunny days, however, make up for it, because the rays of the sun passing through the old glass, the surface of which is not perfect, create an amazing show of lights and shadows inside.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
There is also the aspect of using the view that allows you to feel freedom. The glass wall makes the interior more open and immersed in nature, because it shows deer, squirrels, woodpeckers and trees that move in the wind. Thanks to it, the living room area, which is only 15 m2, will also give the impression of being larger, which will additionally increase the height of the room, which is as much as 4.3 m. At the same time, the windows do not take away privacy, because there are no houses in the vicinity of the plot. The works are still in progress, because I am at the stage of plastering the walls and I will still be making a terrace, but I already know that I managed to create really cool energy here. This is confirmed by my friends who sometimes stop by after work and say that they calm down very much here.
Is it too cold there in winter and hot in summer?
In summer it was indeed warm, but a little air conditioning was enough to regulate the temperature properly. As for winter, I just prepared myself well for it. First of all, practically the entire house is insulated with a thick layer of the so-called wool of the twenties. Secondly, the facade is made of planks, which are more than twice as thick as standard boards sold in DIY stores. I also managed to implement the idea of a green roof, which I spotted in Scandinavia. This is a great way to insulate and immediately reduces heat loss.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
Now I am still installing heating mats in the floor, which will evenly heat the entire surface and be more energy-efficient. For now, I still use the old tiled stove, but with it, a thermal chimney is made inside and most of the heat escapes to the top, so that I have heat on the mezzanine, and I have to heat up downstairs. When it comes to the windows themselves, I have replaced all their putties and seals, so only when the winds are really high does it get cold. Additionally, they have a box structure - each has two quarters, so it is also some kind of airbag that insulates the interior.
It all makes a big impression. How did it happen that you designed this house yourself without being an architect?
I am actually not an architect, but I studied in this field for some time. I have always liked to draw, had a sense of space, and took exam preparation courses. When I entered the university, after six months it turned out that with my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sitting over the paper is not an option. However, I acquired some basics, which, combined with later professional experience, during which I learned the elements of woodwork or finishing, allowed me to create a design for this house. This is actually quite a noisy statement, because he was changing all the time. It wasn't like I saw this American house from my windows, I sat down at my desk and drew everything carefully. First, a solid was created, and when it was ready, I separated the rooms with tape, started to plan the installations, etc. Of course, at the beginning I had to design the structure and count everything so that it would happen later, but many other things were cleared up in the wash.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
I attach great importance to details, which is why this construction takes so long. I want nothing to bother me here, at least when it comes to things that I can think about for myself. I have found that the people who build houses are often too engrossed in the vision of completing a project quickly. As a result, they act in a hurry, forgetting about many elements that seem to be small to them. Halfway through the work, the saving stage still enters, because the loan ends. At the end, they stay with the house, which after a few years irritates them very much, because, and the bills are high, and the drawer in the room catches the knee, etc. I wanted to avoid such situations, which is why, for example, I made stairs to the mezzanine with rails from the gates sliding, so they take up less space and hide in the wall when not needed. It was similar with a large wardrobe, which I connected with the entrance to the utility room to save some space.
How was it formally possible that you were building on the basis of your own design that was constantly evolving? Is that why you decided on a house form for filing?
Yes, that was the main reason. I came back from Norway and wanted to start building a house quickly because I had the opportunity. If I were to think about getting a standard permit, it would probably be so delayed that I would only start now. Meanwhile, in the case of a house, upon notification, you have to take the floor plan to the office, where only the outline of the building is marked, there are no details of the project there. There are of course some restrictions - you cannot exceed the height of six meters and make two storeys, and if you plan to rent the facility in the future, you have to do some additional fire tests, electrical acceptance, etc. For me, however, it was not a problem, the most important thing was time. So I started building quickly and moved into the house as soon as the walls and ceiling were built.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek CinalDom on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
The beginning of my life here was a bit hermit, because I didn't have a bathroom and there were holes in the walls. During the first winter, they were already covered up, but they weren't super isolated either. To survive, I had to heat a tiled stove and a gas stove. Sometimes it was not easy, when you had to light this goat at three in the morning, because the fire went out and suddenly it was 15 degrees. However, I put it on my own and somehow got to the point where I have a bathroom, heat inside and a temporary gas cooker, because I will have to wait a little longer for the final one. Thanks to this, I don't have to order everything anymore and I can make myself food here. Now I am actually getting to the point where this place starts to look like a house, not some forest cottage.
Why did you do so many things alone?
Most of all, I had time because the pandemic had broken out and I couldn't go back to Norway where I used to work as a chef. The second point is that I had a lot of savings which I was able to put aside for 1.5 years. However, I did not want to involve the construction team, because I knew that this would entail horrendous costs. Another thing is that probably no one would undertake the construction of the facade with windows that I dreamed of. I also wanted everything to be "mine" here. I ate my teeth here on many things. For example, I dismantled the finished bathroom, because the so-called I didn't like the shafts between the boards.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek CinalDom on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
It should also be remembered that I used the help of friends, without whom, for example, I would not throw heavy beams six meters high or over three tons of moss on the roof. Music, which I am passionate about, also helped me a lot. For some tasks, the only thing left to do was to play the soundtrack from "Gladiator" by Hans Zimmer on the headphones, because there are such emotions that a person can work at 120 percent.
How much have you invested more or less in building the house?
Initially, I thought that I would spend 20, 30 or a maximum of 50,000. zloty. It turned out, however, that you have to take into account higher costs, even when building it yourself. This is connected not only with the increase in the prices of materials, but also with the fact that I was choosing those from a better shelf. I think that I will finally spend some 130-140 thousand zlotys on the whole. zloty.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
Almost all of it is my own work, because that's literally about 2,000. I paid PLN for connecting the water, attracting the connection and renting an excavator.
Have you only been building a house all this time?
Not. When I returned to Poland, I started working with a friend with whom we put together furniture and kitchens. It is a part-time job, so we can flexibly adapt it to our needs and arrange clients to suit us. In addition, I am also passionate about photography and I am starting to do the first paid sessions, so that in this respect also something is happening.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
Are you going to use the experiences you have acquired during this project?
In the future, I plan to put up more similar houses, including a small restaurant, so that others can come here, turn off their heads, drink good wine, read a book on a hammock, listen to music on vinyl and watch a movie in an open-air cinema. I would like to show people such a simple happiness that is often forgotten in Poland, unlike, for example, in Scandinavia. It seems to me that we lack places where you can see someone's heart. In them, such an ordinary romantic dinner has a completely different overtone than in a typical restaurant where you eat, drink, pay and don't even turn around too much. Of course, there are atmospheric pubs, but the point is to create something that will really distract people from everyday life.House on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek CinalDom on request from old windowsPhoto: Tomek Cinal
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