Why Replace Your Windows and What to Look For When Replacing Your Windows
This is a special report that is provided for homeowners who are seeking a better understanding about the purchase and installation of replacement windows. It guides you in selecting the right windows for you, to ultimately purchasing your windows, and arranging for their installation. Included are other considerations important to your selection of the right window contractor.
Energy loss costs you money!
Recently, energy costs have skyrocketed and have become a major portion of your monthly home budget. Windows and doors happen to be the greatest single source of energy loss in the home; a very high percentage of heat is lost through the windows and doors. Becoming more energy efficient and replacing old windows is an intelligent and powerful way to decrease monthly utility bills while increasing your home’s value. Replacing drafty, difficult to operate older windows with the newer thermally insulated windows 11, which have a Low E type glass (explained later in this report), can reduce your yearly energy bills by as much as 40%.
Cost Vs. Value
Let’s get to the bottom line right up front. If you should be informed that, “Typically, new windows will pay for themselves in about 5 years,” believe it; it’s true. When it comes to window pricing, please keep in mind that the cheapest windows are rarely, if ever, the best choice. Depending on your situation, you may not elect to install the top-of-the-line window, but do choose a good quality window regardless. You don’t want to choose a window that only looks good but won’t save you much money on utility bills. Even if you only bought the home as an investment and are planning on “turning it” (selling it fast) for a quick profit, it is still best to buy quality windows that will last, and that come with a lifetime warranty. I can’t tell you the number of people I come into contact with that suddenly decided to replace their windows only after they happened upon a special sale at their local building supply store.
Typically, the low prices seen are for the bottom-of-the-line windows; those with little energy savings and a minimal warranty. It’s no secret that some well-known manufacturers make three different grades of windows: a top, middle, and bargain line. In many instances, homeowners aren’t able to find someone reputable to install those bargain windows. Professional installers do not care to be associated with an inferior product.
Repair your old windows?
It’s unwise to put off the inevitable by attempting to repair your old windows. By doing so, little if any energy savings will be experienced, since the most you can really do easily is paint over them. However, once you replace your windows entirely, you’ll be pleased that you decided not to repair them. Replacing windows will lower your energy bills immediately. In addition, the curb appeal and value of your home instantly increases with new windows installed.
Replace them yourself or hire a contractor?
For the novice, replacing some or all windows in the home is, in reality, more than a monumental task. Yes, you can certainly buy the windows and then install them yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it, let alone suggest it.
Please, if you are not a seasoned window installer, don’t tackle the job yourself. Would you be at ease removing the engine from your car and then installing a new one? No… and I wouldn’t either. For the vast majority of homeowners, obtaining the services of a qualified, experienced, and state licensed window contractor is the best course of action. One very important detail to keep in mind is that if you replace them yourself, this will void your warranty in most cases. Also, should you measure incorrectly, drop, break, or damage your windows or the area supporting the windows, you would have an additional expense, instead of having your contractor merely replace or repair the damage at no additional cost to you.
“Cost is actually the price you pay for your windows, including installation. Value is the return on your money in direct relation to that cost.”
Replacing windows. What’s involved?
There is much more to having windows replaced than one might initially think. Some homeowners are confused with all the specs such as U-Value, R-Value, air infiltration, etc. If you start listing, comparing, and creating pie-charts for all those values and numbers, it can become confusing very quickly. The solution to this is to simply ask if the window is energy star rated. If it is, you know the windows will meet the highest government standards. Don’t settle for anything less. Now you’re free to focus on some of the functional parts of the window. Be aware that a quality window has double locks and a minimum of 7/8″ insulated glass for energy conservation. Now, depending on your preference – single hung or double hung windows – ask what mechanism is used to manipulate the sashes. The constant force coil spring balance system is the best choice because it incorporates a titanium coil and may be designed to last a lifetime. Ask if their windows have a spring and string method (known as block and tackle) or spiral metal balances. The spring and string mechanism can offer ease of operation whereas the spiral system rarely maintains its initial ease. If one of those strings should break, ask if it’s replaced free of charge. The constant force coil spring balance system can come with a lifetime warranty. Keep in mind that a good quality hung window has sashes that tilt in, allowing you to clean both sides of the glass from the inside. You’ll want this feature whether you’re replacing first, second, or third floor windows.
How much to budget… and getting a price.
The first item for you, as a homeowner, to consider is a budget for new windows. This can become a significant factor in the ultimate choice of windows, as window prices will vary greatly. A concern may be that without having a window contractor come to your home and give you a price, you don’t really know just how much to budget. For now, it’s best to focus on what you want from new windows: energy savings, aesthetics, ease of use, and ease of cleaning all seem to be primary concerns. Decide exactly how many windows you wish to replace, if not all. Consider the look and style of your present windows and determine whether you want to replace them with a newer style and type, or keep the same style but simply upgrade to the newer, more energy efficient windows.
Every home is unique. After years of enduring weather changes, no two homes are really the same. Many factors must be considered in order to give an accurate price for window installation. Without seeing your present windows, there is no way to receive an accurate price for replacement. For example, removing a steel window from a masonry opening is much more difficult than extracting a wood double hung from a stud opening. Plus, many homes may have windows with surrounding wood damage that needs to be replaced or simply updated before a new window can be installed. Having someone physically view your existing windows removes all questions in the evaluation, allows for accurate pricing, and provides you with all the information you need to establish your budget for the replacement windows. Having a qualified window contractor sit down with you and give you pricing is the next step.
Make sure you inquire about financing. Some contractors offer in-house financing with no payments or interest for up to one full year. But before inviting a contractor to your home, make sure the visit will be at no cost or obligation whatsoever. The reputable window contractor will agree to this readily, without hesitation, and proceed to set a mutually agreeable appointment time. Once the contractor arrives, after the introductions, immediately state clearly the results you want from your new windows. Relay how many windows you are considering replacing, show the windows to be replaced, and then ask what brand, type, and style windows would be best for your situation. Make sure you go over different options and state clearly the results you want from your new windows. If you have questions, now is the time to speak up. Take as much time as you need. After all, you’re the one considering and ultimately paying to have new windows installed. Another important aspect of hiring someone to replace your windows is the need to feel comfortable in their presence. If you’re not comfortable with them now, you won’t be comfortable later. Also, consider that the contractor will have their installers working in and around your home, your castle. You’ll certainly want to feel at ease about letting them work there. Ask who exactly will be doing the installing. If they do not know or hedge answering this question, it may be a signal that you’re dealing with “Chuck on a truck,” and perhaps not a very reputable company.
I have window pricing, now what?
When you have received a firm price from your window contractor, make sure these concerns have been completely addressed to your satisfaction: What type of warranty is included? Remember, obtaining a strong, written guarantee should be a mandatory when buying replacement windows. All vinyl window manufacturers should provide a lifetime warranty, as quality vinyl windows and doors are constructed to last a lifetime. The majority of wooden windows,with some form of exterior cladding, provide a ten year warranty. This does not mean vinyl is better, but wood simply does not last forever. The three heavy hitters in the wood window market are Marvin, Andersen, and Pella, all with a ten year warranty. Understand that there are nonprorated lifetime warranties, and pro-rated lifetime warranties. Nonprorated means the warranty will not depreciate over the course of the lifetime. Many “lifetime” warranties don’t explain this, because they are in fact prorated, costing you additional money later down the line. Find out just how long the manufacturer has been making their windows. A lifetime warranty is no good should the manufacturer suddenly go out of business.
Once confident the manufacturer is well established, ask how long the contractor has been replacing windows. Make sure they are licensed and insured. Being licensed and insured doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good, but it does give them accountability. How much and what type of maintenance is required? You should be told that your windows will be virtually maintenance free and that you will never need to scrape, paint, or stain your windows ever again. Should damage occur or repairs be necessary, how and when will repairs be completed? Any contractor worth their salt will be in position to address damage or repair concerns immediately and not have it take a week or two. How much will the new windows increase the value of your home? The answer will depend primarily on the quantity and quality of the windows you purchase.
When making your decision.
Once you are satisfied with price, manufacturer, guarantee, warranty, and installation timeframe, make sure that both you and your contractor understand your purchase clearly and entirely, before entering into a contractual agreement. It’s never wise to pay for the work in full in advance. Rather, wait until after the job is completed to your satisfaction. A deposit is usually required by most contractors. Typically, this can be as much as fifty percent of the contracted price, but you can discuss this with your contractor and try to keep it as low as possible. Finally and most importantly, read everything before you sign on the dotted line and if there is anything in the contract that you are even the slightest bit unclear about, stop and ask for clarification, right then and there. Also, remember that if it’s not written in the contract, it’s not part of the contract. Never assume that something is “understood”. If there is a point you have discussed that you do not see written in the contract, you can request that the contract be amended to include this point, or an “addendum” be written as an addition to the contract. This should also be signed and dated by both parties. Make sure everything you expect to be there, is. It is our sincere desire that all questions, suggestions, and information contained herein will help place you, the homeowner, in a better position to approach, facilitate, and find satisfaction with your major home improvement project of window replacement. Do feel free to share this information with your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.