I hope this helps anyone in the MA area.
I recently went through the process of finding the right windows for my home and wanted to give a quick review of my findings.
I will preface this by saying this is the second time I've gone through this process. The first time really soured me. I would compare it to buying a car from from a sleazy dealer. On the first go-around, I looked at the local heavy-hitters, Newpro, Pella, Sears, etc. They all irritated me to no end and I ended up getting Owens Corning windows through Home Depot because they were the easiest to deal with and the price was right for my purposes.
That was then, this is now. I currently live in a house I expect to be in for the long haul so I wanted to make sure I got a quality window with a quality install for a good price. That's how I came across this board. I educated myself a little more than last time and explored some window companies I never knew existed through recommendations from the pros here. Here are my findings:Sunrise Restorations
These are the windows I chose for my house. Ultimately, I chose them because they looked the nicest and had the largest glass viewing area. Most vinyl windows I've come across tend to have a simple profile with flat surfaces and basic features. However, the Restorations are sculpted to look more like the original wood windows you probably have in your house. In terms of quality, the window compared favorable to the other top windows the pros here recommend. The dealer (Hi-Tech Windows) was friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and above all, not pushy. I found him through the Restorations website: http://www.restorationswindows.com/restfacts.html
. Soft-Lite Elements
Very nice window. Clean profile. Excellent quality. This was my second choice if Sunrise didn't come through with what I wanted. The dealer was knowledgeable and friendly but his price was way too high. He said this was his absolute lowest for double pane glass which was more than the triple pane I had been quoted for from everyone else. And their quotes included an entry door and window capping. I could have haggled but it really wasn't worth it. I got their name from the Soft-Lite website. Gorell
Good quality window with a more decorative profile. Worth checking out if you want something less plain. The dealer rubbed me and my wife the wrong way though. He wasn't overly pushy but he definitely gave us the BS about buying one window tonight so I could lock in the price. He also only looked at my wife when he referred to the ease of cleaning the window. He said his window only compared to the Newpro. When I challenged him and named some of the other windows I was looking at, he was a bit stunned I knew about them. He called the next morning and said he could get the Sunrise if that's the one I liked best. Needless to say I never bothered to get a quote from him. I wouldn't say avoid this guy if you're interested in the Gorell. I think he'd do a quality install. But I also couldn't recommend him. The Soft-Lite guy mentioned they were looking to carry Gorell too so maybe you'll have better luck with him. I found the Gorell dealer through the Gorell website.Simonton
The least fancy window I looked at. Not bad but it also doesn't knock your socks off. I'd be happy with this window in most of my house but not all of it. They wouldn't work in fancier areas like the dining and living room. I really liked the guy that showed them to me but he really wasn't a knowledgeable window guy like the pros here. He could tell me some basics but that's about it. He knew more about installation than anything else. I'd be very comfortable using him. I found him through servicemagic.com. Kind of like angie's list, only free!Great Lakes
I couldn't tell you anything about the windows other than some of the pros recommended them. Unfortunately, they're only sold by Penguin Windows in this area. You may have heard them advertise. Once they got my number they wouldn't stop calling. I wanted to set up an appointment but they were incapable of booking something more than 3 days in advance. Very annoying. They sounded high pressure. Maybe you'll have better luck.Newpro
Avoid them at all costs. They will enter your home and never leave. Their windows are made for space exploration and therefore they're worth the $2500 per window. What, that's too much? Let us put a sign on your lawn and we'll knock off $500. Still not enough? Let me call my manager. Still not low enough? I'll appeal to a higher power... just for you of course. Oh, by the way, this price is only good for 5 minutes. At that time the proposal will self destruct. The funny thing is, they might actually be selling good windows. I'll never know unless someone here can comment on them.
There are many other companies with similar tactics as Newpro. I hope you don't encounter them. Home Depot, Sears, Lowes
These options seem convenient but I wouldn't recommend them. I had some luck with HD the first time around but when I moved into my second home the experience wasn't nearly as good. I never bothered with Lowes because they charged a fee to get a quote. No idea if they still do this. Sears price was just astronomical so I laughed them out the door. The pros here recommend avoiding big box stores because it's cheaper going through local people and you never know who's going to install the windows. Pricing
This is probably the first worry everyone has about getting new windows and if you've had a company like Newpro or Bristol give you a quote, you're probably ready for a heart attack. Judging from what I've gotten in quotes and comparing them to what other people have posted, it's very reasonable to say you can get a quality, top-of-the-line double-hung window for $450 - $750 installed depending on the details of the job and type of window. Please remember every job is different though.Message Boards
The pros here definitely have their favorites but if there's a window you're interested in, don't be shy to ask. They'll tell you what they like, don't like and why. If they sound like they're pushing a particular window, it's because you asked for a reference and they're letting you know what they like and why. Challenge them to give you as much detail as you need. They're knowledge and experience might surprise you. I would also recommend you ask some of the same questions of the dealers you go through. This will help determine how comfortable you'll be with them handling the job.