Buying Replacement Windows: The 4 Steps To Success
Buying replacement windows isn't necessarily glamorous, as far as home improvement projects go, but it can be an effective energy- and money-saving project. It can also be a big project. Here are some tips to help you avoid any pitfalls during your project.
1. Know when to buy: Late spring and early fall are the best times of year to replace your windows, because they are usually the mildest. Don't forget that your windows will be off the house entirely during this project, so your home will be exposed to the elements. Naturally, you'll want to avoid hot, cold, or rainy periods as much as possible. If necessary, you can hang plastic sheeting around each area to protect against wind or bugs.
Create a Project Budget
2. Establish a replacement window budget. What you can afford to spend will determine the quality you can buy. There are a variety of product lines to choose from in many varieties, from the very economical to high-end and expensive. You need to know, very specifically, what your goal is, how fancy you want to go, and how much you can spend.
You also need to know how many windows need to be replaced - see our cost estimator for an idea of pricing. Are you doing the whole house, or just a handful? Are they all the same size and type of window? Do you want to make some changes, or just replace them with the same general type as before?
Another very important aspect of this project is construction. You'll have to determine how your original windows were installed, and see if you might expect some problems with tear-out and install preparation. Explore further on window replacement installation.
Buying Replacement Windows
At this point, you should be thinking, 'Can I do this myself, or will I have to hire someone?' If you are not very handy or don't feel particularly confident, finding a replacement window contractor will also have to be factored into your budget.
Once you've got your general project needs established, call around and get some estimates on the installation. Obviously, installing them yourself is less expensive – but only if you have the right skills and experience. The cost of repairing your own mistakes is often what sends a home improvement project's budget into the red. Improperly installed windows can create many problems. Very often, hiring someone is cheaper in the long run.
Know Your Buying Options
Be sure to go over your options with the window installer. Be clear about your expectations, and what results you want from your replacement windows. Get several bids and choose the best installer for you.
Don't make a decision solely on the basis of the cost of replacement windows. The lowest bid isn't always the best fit. Make sure you feel comfortable with (and confident in) the installer you choose. He or she will be in your home, and you should feel at ease with that decision (and his or her presence). It is always a good idea to ask for references. If licensed and bonded, you can check with the licensing board for complaints, etc.
Ask for a guarantee and sign a contract. Never, ever rely on oral promises. Get everything in writing, and signed. This isn't just for your benefit – it protects both parties!
Lastly, do not pay for the job until it is done right and as specifically stipulated to in the contract. The installer may ask for a deposit up front. This is fine, but try to keep the amount as low as possible. Negotiate if you can, but be reasonable.