OK, so here goes my 'end of project' post. I hope all this helps future home owners decide who / what to go with. Some great advice here and yes, you pros posting here do nice work! My 'ass
umption' was that for work like Dave posted I would pay caviar price; however, I had a tuna fish budget
Maybe I'm wrong but one thing for sure my windows won't ever look as nice as that Dave.
First I'm going to address the windows themselves. From what I have seen so far they are very good quality. Last night the temp dropped into the 40's we truly noticed a difference, no more having to wear a knit cap to bed
Aside from the comfort one BIG thing we noticed is how quiet the bedrooms are now. Yesterday it was very windy and when the guys finished one room we went in and my wife said .. do you hear that? What she meant was we couldn't hear the wind .. the wind chimes outside.. etc. BIG difference
That said, the windows are not perfect. My small bathroom DH window with one latch can be rocked left / right about a 1/16" when closed and latched. I did notice the screws holding the latch hardware are not snug so that's something I'll have to take care of. Another issue I noticed on a few windows
is that the vinyl in the jambs did not get seated completely before it was glued (or whatever they do). I've attached an example which shows the 'slope' of the sash on a slider. I tried to snap it down but no luck. So far this does not seem to impact the operation or R value.
The install crew were nice guys, they worked hard and had all 18 done in about a day and half. They never even took lunch breaks! I did mention the calking situation on some corners and they took care of it, they also left me a tube of the calk they use in case I run into anything when I paint the house. The sides were not calked so when I paint the house I guess I'll need to do that. They did say the drip edge on the old windows was nailed to the top of the exterior casing. I guess that's why I never noticed it. For this reason they installed the wrap over it and calked it. They did a pretty good job cleaning up; however, the interior cleanup was not great. Saw dust and some mud on the floor was one example but I didn't sweat it, these guys are window installers not maids. My wife and I are pretty much clean freaks anyway so we were cleaning rooms before they even had a chance. They did say it was nice to work in a clean home
I've also attached a before and after photo of a casement window they replaced with a slider.
All in all on a scale of 8-10 I'd give the windows an 8 and the project management / install an 8.5. I'll check back after we get some real cold and heavy rains.
If you decide to deal with HD my advice would be:
-Go with the 6500 series not the 'lower price' model if you plan to stay in your home.
-Make your expectations clear to the sales person and project manager. Walk around and asked questions like 'will the window wrap be completely sealed'. You should even specify how you want the top wrap to marry the sides, as you can see in the this post there are different methods and looks. I for one would have preferred a method like Mike mentioned (long header cap which tabs over the sides) but I didn't mention this before and didn't see the method on my project until 8 windows were already installed.
-BE HOME.. specifically to watch the work being done and ask questions. Don't 'hover' but make sure windows are being insulated, watch how the wrap is being installed and sealed and if you have questions ASK.
-DON'T be a 'jerk', I guarantee if you are nice to the crew they will in turn work harder to ensure you're pleased with the install. Strike up small talk, offer something to drink or a snack but don't turn it into a social event where they need to rush to finish
So.. now I have 4 LARGE casement windows to replace and I plan to give a local contractor or two a shot at bidding the project. I'm not unhappy with HD but I'd just like to see what the price difference would be and maybe .. just maybe .. start a new thread on that project
Thanks again all!