Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

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gti16vman
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Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#1 Post by gti16vman » Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:24 pm

Hi all, my wife and I are in the early stages of shopping for windows for our whole house (38 windows, 4 are 6ft wide half circles, the rest up/down sliders). At our previous house, about 3 years ago, we replaced the west facing windows via Window World. We were happy with them, as energy efficiency wise they were drastically better than the aluminum frame 20 year old windows that were there before. So we had a good experience, but we were only in the house for a year with those windows. We have recently decided to replace all the windows in the new house, as we plan on being here for quite some time.

We had Window World out and got a quote from them, and we thought it was pretty good. But then I started doing research online. I found out what WW actually uses and I have read a lot of reviews of Alside windows. This week, we had a guy come door to door with a company, so we agreed to let them come out and talk to us. The guy that came was a bit high pressure and when he heard we had WW out, he became pretty disinterested. He was very unprofessional, bad mouthing multiple other companies (called one local companies installers a bunch of drunks and druggies) and answering texts while he was talking to us. The products they used were Amerimax, which looked like they were pretty nice windows, but his unprofessional-ism completely turned us off.

I also had a couple of positive recommendations from neighbors/friends and so I decided I would call them and ask what they use so I can do my research on the windows ahead of them coming out. The first guy I called said he uses a local company here in Ft Worth called American Window Systems. He said to go check out their website and see what I thought. The other company (America's Best Choice Windows) I called said they would have to have a product specialist call me back, which I didn't really like.

So sorry for the really long post, wondering if anyone has dealt with AWS before and has any thoughts? The specs seem pretty good, but I don't see anything about Air Infiltration on the site. I know being a small company there is always the risk of them going out of business, but at the same time, if they are local, I would think they are building windows made for this climate. This is the window he said he uses the most: americanwindowsystems.com/window_energycore.htm


Seth

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#2 Post by randy » Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:08 pm

For premium grade vinyl windows, both Okna and Sunrise are available in the DFW market.

For mid-grade vinyl windows, NT Windows or Simonton.

If this is a house you intend to stay in for more than 5 years, I’d absolutely avoid low-end vinyl windows.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#3 Post by gti16vman » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:19 pm

Randy, thank you for the reply! Yes, we are definitely planning on being here and that is part of the reason that why after getting the WW quote, I paused and started doing research.

I had looked at Okna's website before, but they don't have a way to look up dealers on their site, so I will have to call them Monday and find out who does them. I did get a call back from the one place and they use MGM and MI, both local companies. I tried a 3rd as well and they use NT Solar Pro and Presidential windows, so I will probably have them out to get a bid. I am researching the Sunrise dealers now, as well.

Another question and this may be overstepping my bounds, but could I get a fair general price/window for Sunrise/Okna vs NT/Simonton?

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#4 Post by Windows on Washington » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:06 pm

Pricing is tough to put your finger on from area to area. The cost of goods, labor (especially), and doing business can vary a decent bit.

I would focus on getting a quote on some of those nicer units and instead see how they compare in price.

Everything that you look at that is decent is going to seem expensive now as compared to WW. Granted, their window can't compare in those situations, but the numbers are going to be tilted now.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#5 Post by randy » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:27 pm

Yeah, it’s generally not fair for us to comment on pricing for a job we’ve never seen. If we estimate high, the homeowner doesn’t contact the brand dealer. If we estimate low, we make him look like a thief. Best bet is to get quotes and compare the quality of the windows as well as the competency and service of the dealer. Getting quotes on Sunrise, Okna, and NT is a great way to proceed.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#6 Post by gti16vman » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:58 am

Thanks for the replies, that will be the plan to get a few quotes on the nicer windows, appreciate the help.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#7 Post by gti16vman » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:00 pm

So I have vendor for Sunrise coming on Wed and one for Okna on Monday. Looking forward to comparing quotes. I know they will be higher than WW and that is fine. Since all of my windows are 6' tall, I am guessing that single hung 60/40 will actually save a bit of money.

Something else I have been wondering about and I will discuss with both vendors, how they handle alarm sensors. I haven't seen too much discussing this in my reading here. My current aluminum windows have the magnetic sensors drilled into the sill and the sash. The little that I have found online seems to point to getting a security company to do that part. If I am putting these all new windows, I don't think I want them drilled into. So I will probably look into the low profile stick on ones.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#8 Post by Windows on Washington » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:48 am

You are correct. You don't want to drill anything into the window. Look to convert to the low profile applied sensors or wireless ones.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#9 Post by TheWindowNerd » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:11 pm

we use a small peel and stick to do it.
most window installers do not have the parts or experience to do the alarms.
we do.

theWindowNerd.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#10 Post by gti16vman » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:19 pm

Thank you both for your replies. So the Sunrise dealer came today. Really liked him and its definitely a nice window, but the price is quite a lot more (~$357/window more than WW and ~$318/window more than Berkshire Elite). He did say that they have always been expensive for geometric windows and that is a huge chunk (~22.5%) of the total. I understand getting the WW quote first may not have been the best idea, but it does provide perspective for this whole project. I will be interested to see how Okna compares. Going to check with Softlite as well.

I was told today that in TX you have to have a license for the alarm sensors, so I will have to check with my alarm company on that part.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#11 Post by gti16vman » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:17 pm

Ok, so the Okna guy came today. The problem is they sell Okna composite windows, not vinyl. I never even thought to ask when I called Okna that I needed to specify that. The salesman was a nice guy, but gave us some of the old sales tricks of "if you sign today". So he quoted vinyl and composite. He didn't say the brand of the vinyl (I think he mentioned vantage, but all I can find are HD windows by Simonton) and oddly didn't leave the literature for them, either. They had good numbers, .26 Uf, .19 SHGC, but .1 AI. The higher AI is a little worrisome compared to the top brands. Plus the prices weren't all that impressive.

He also touted that they do a full installation like a new window, not just slide the frame in, which does seem beneficial if it is possible with the brick exterior of the house.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#12 Post by Windows on Washington » Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:30 am

Sounds like they showed you the Starmark here.

A full tear out replacement will add to the replacement costs associated with the project.

What was the "sales trick" that they quoted you for a first visit close?

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#13 Post by gti16vman » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:49 am

Windows on Washington wrote:Sounds like they showed you the Starmark here.

A full tear out replacement will add to the replacement costs associated with the project.

What was the "sales trick" that they quoted you for a first visit close?
Starmark would be the composite, correct? It was ~$10k more than the vinyl, but he didn't give me the vinyl brand. He just said they didn't do Okna vinyl, only composite. The numbers I quoted were for whatever their vinyl offering was, not for the composite.

It was the if you sign today, I can give you this discount, but can't promise it forever trick. He said we can write up the contract and sign it and you can cancel at anytime. I didn't feel super pressured, but I also didn't like that he didn't leave me the brochures for the vinyl to look them over more closely. He made his sales pitch that "every salesman that comes in will tell you their window is the best", followed by telling me his is the best. He also told me that their vinyl windows are not plugged "like all the others" and the argon will be gone from any other window in 4 years. He also said all vinyl will yellow within a year in the TX sun. Basically, I just didn't feel confident cutting through the sales stuff.

One other question is, if I change up the window configurations, I assume that should save some money. We rarely open windows, so I am thinking of changing some to picture windows. Today, we have 2 banks of 4-36x72 windows. Changing those to 2 sets of 72x72 picture windows, I would think would save some money and look pretty nice (overlooking the backyard). There are also a few sets of 2-36x72 windows that I want to change to 1 72x72 slider. If I am going with these big windows, though, I definitely want a high end vinyl that can stand up to it. Realistically, changing from 2-36x72 windows to 1 72x72 picture or slider, how much actual cost savings would be there?

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#14 Post by Windows on Washington » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:59 am

As long as the price incentive is reasonable, I don't see a tonight only price as really "gimmicky". At the end of the day, if the salesperson can get everything squared away at that instant, it allows them a bit more bandwidth in their schedules for other appointments.

Now, if the price drop is some huge number, that is ludicrous.

The plug and fill stuff sounds a bit wonky to me, but I would have to see the rationale for the pitch.

Reducing the number of unit will save you a few bucks here and there, but only do that if you like the look and it fits the home. At the end of the day, you are clearly stuck with what you decide on.

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Re: Shopping for windows - American Window Systems?

#15 Post by gti16vman » Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:32 am

I can appreciate that, but he didn't say what the actual discount was, just that he had all the discounts in there at that price. Basically, that it was his bottom dollar price today. It came in less than Sunrise, but more than any other dual pane window I have looked at.

As for the styles, I do think it will look good and I think we will be happy with it. We have wood plantation shutters on all of the windows, so I really think that picture windows will look good. Here is a pic of the largest portion of the project, the 2 banks of 4 and 2 banks of 3 36x72 windows. Our thought was 2 72x72 in place of the 4 banks on the right, which are the living room and next to dinner table. Then 3 window with 2 sliders for the ones straight ahead.

Want to say thanks again to the experts for the replies to me and others. I have spent hours on these forums reading over the past couple of weeks, trying to soak up as much info as I can.
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