The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 16, 2009

Substitutions sought for Deck components

Since Empyrean closed in November, J.J. Supple, a Deck-recommended builder, wonders what to tell his Deck customers needing new sliders, windows, or renovations. “What am I going to say? I just don’t have the answer right now.” But Molly Tee, formerly a project manager with Empyrean, notes there is a network developing. “We’re working together on sources,” she says.

Deck houses have their own specifications for doors and windows, and standard-issue will not work without retrofitting. In addition, the post-and-beam construction requires Deck-specific board sizes for roofing and decking. ”It’s an intricate system,” says Supple, who spent many months training in the oddities of building and repairing Deck Houses. “It’s not typical home framing. It’s all unique; there’s nothing like it anywhere else.” He notes much of his business came from customers whose contractors had started a job and been unable to deal with what they found.

Deck Houses were built in the 1960s with single-pane windows and steel sashes. Now owners looking to save energy need the new double-pane windows with wood sashes. Standard Pella windows can be made to fit with the addition of three inches of fill on each side. “We’ve done that in the past” to save money, says Supple. But Marjorie Johnson of Ember Lane says that when she replaced the windows in her Deck House, she was willing to pay the 20% premium for Deck windows that were well made, fit exactly and matched the mahogany in the home, unlike the standard windows on the market.

Supple notes that during the summer he was forced to purchase supplies himself for Empyrean to make windows because the supplier had cut off the company’s credit. Still, he was surprised to drive up on Election Day and find a chain across the Empyrean parking lot. Supple reflects on his luck at having picked up his windows the day before; otherwise, he would have been out the $10,000 cost.

Supple is concerned that if components need to be custom-milled, “You’re going to pay through the nose. Then I’m the bad guy.” Fortunately or unfortunately, for now, few people are undertaking renovations in this down market, which Supple says is the worst he’s seen. But, he predicts, “Someone is going to come in and get [Empyrean] restarted. There’s certainly a market for it.” With an installed base of thousands of homes, “There’s potential for a lucrative business if they can get through the legal debacle and get the thing rekindled.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito