I thought I'd drop in and give a final update on my window project. I ended up going with the american craftsman 86 series windows, which I think are the same as the 9500 series, just renamed. I had 4 windows )2 windows mulled together in 2 separate holes) installed that were 36 x 62 with grids. had to have a LOT of rotten wood replaced as the sills and trim were completely gone. The final price fro everything with double lifetime warranty on hardware, screen; and a lifetime warranty on installation and accidental glass breakage for a final price of $2780 I still don't know if that a good price or not, it seems to be impossible to tell unless your an insider. You can get 50 quotes from 50 different people and you'll get 50 different prices cause they'll all use a different window and they all will claim theirs is the best. But I digress.
I ended up having HD do it, but I'm not sure I would again. The did a perfect job for me, from begining to end. The salesman never pressured me, never tried to force me into anything, gave me all the time I needed and wanted, and totaly understood that he was just one of a couple estimates I was getting. After deciding to go with HD, the project manager (about 25 years in the business) showed up to do all the measuring about 2 days latter. About 2 weeks after that, the windows came in and were installed. the same day, the project manager shows up to inspect the work and make sure everything was done correctly, and to my satisfaction, very professional.
So why the hesitation to use them again? Well, what A lot of the people have said here about HD is corrrect. Its a crapp shoot. The guy who installed my windows was telling me about another job another crew had just done the previous day. Well, they didn't even actully do it. they broke windows trying to squeeze them into holes that wouldn't fit, left broken glass, windows supplies and other crap just laying on the floor, smeared calk on the exterior siding, and neve even finished the job. So it seems that with HD it depends an awful lot on who they send. I got luck, but not everybody does. However, my installer did tell me he was going over to that house the next day with some other people to get it right, so it seems they do try to fix their problems as soon as they can.
Anyway, mostly I just wanted to say thank you to the guys on this board who help people like me with window desicions. I still think buying windows is a nightmare that shouldn't be like that, but you guys definitly made it a lot easier.