Best way to select a window and installer

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sharona
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Best way to select a window and installer

#1 Post by sharona » Wed May 23, 2012 10:22 am

Hi. I've been reading the posts on the board and have noted that the experts are recommending using a private contractor for window replacement over the subcontractors that HD and Lowe's employ. I have a few questions and I'm hoping for some direction for the best way to find/select a contractor and select a window brand.

Some details: We have a raised ranch just north of Boston. Looking to replace 16 wood casement windows (50 year old windows that are barely functional) with double hung vinyl. One issue is that several of the windows are huge with two casements flanking a big picture window. One window in the living room is practically floor to ceiling. My plan is to replace the bigger windows with a bank of double hungs excepting the large picture window in the living room which will be a new picture window with 2 double hungs flanking it.

Q. When trying to figure out what I'm paying "per window", am I counting each opening as a window? For example if I'm removing a 3 pane casement window and replacing it with 3 double hung windows, is that 3 windows? Sorry if this is a silly question but I see a lot of people quoting per window prices and want to make sure I'm comparing apples to apples.

I got a quote from HD for the Simonton 6100 series for $14,700 (- 10% if I order by Memorial Day). I'm concerned about the installation quality after reading these boards.

Q. How do I go about finding a reliable contractor to give me an estimate? Do most contractors who handle window installations specialize in just that? Should I start with a local window company like Harvey? Any recommendations? I've been avoiding the ones that incessantly advertise on radio/tv like the Window Boys, Champion and Rite Windows - should I consider those?

Thanks in advance for your advice/recommendations.

Sharona

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#2 Post by randy » Wed May 23, 2012 11:19 am

Q. When trying to figure out what I'm paying "per window", am I counting each opening as a window? For example if I'm removing a 3 pane casement window and replacing it with 3 double hung windows, is that 3 windows?
Yes, it would be 3 windows in 1 opening.
I got a quote from HD for the Simonton 6100 series for $14,700 (- 10% if I order by Memorial Day). I'm concerned about the installation quality after reading these boards.
You're right to be concerned. The better installers don't work for the big boxes for multiple reasons. While they likely have some decent workmen, they also have many sub-par guys as well, and that's playing roulette with your new windows. Not worth the risk.
Q. How do I go about finding a reliable contractor to give me an estimate? Do most contractors who handle window installations specialize in just that? Should I start with a local window company like Harvey? Any recommendations? I've been avoiding the ones that incessantly advertise on radio/tv like the Window Boys, Champion and Rite Windows - should I consider those?
I'd recommend first looking for superior window manufacturers - Okna/Hi-Mark, Soft-lite/Gorell, Sunrise. On their websites they will provide a list of dealers that cover your area. Contractors that carry high performance windows will typically match the product with a high-performance installation system. Additionally dealers for top quality brands are typically going to be financially stable, customer service oriented, and employ superior workmen.

sharona
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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#3 Post by sharona » Wed May 23, 2012 11:58 am

Thanks for your response. One issue that I have is that most of the companies do not post any type of pricing on their websites so I don't know what's in my price range. I don't want to waste my time (and the dealers) having someone come out to estimate on top of the line windows when I can't afford them. The HD estimate is slightly more than I expected to pay but close. Based on your answer to my number of windows question, the price is about $550 per window. Are the windows you're recommending I look into similarly priced? I'm not looking to pay for top shelf.

Also, I'm thinking of breaking this project up and doing the bedrooms first then the rest of the house next year. Any pros/cons to that approach?

Sharona

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#4 Post by HomeSealed » Wed May 23, 2012 12:23 pm

That price is within the reasonable range, but certainly not on the high-end. Depending on which line within those brands, option content, and install circumstances it could probably run anywhere from $500 up to $900 per window. Many companies may be willing to give you a ballpark/average price over the phone or web, if not at least a range to work with.
No major pros or cons to doing the project in phases, other than that some companies may charge a setup or disposal fee that you'd be hit with twice, and you home and schedule would be disturbed more than once. OTOH, you get to experience the workings of the company and determine whether or not you want to spend additional money with them.
+1 on all of Randy's points as well.

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#5 Post by TheWindowNerd » Thu May 24, 2012 7:37 am

I think that the first step is to find the right person. They will help you find the right product to meet your goals.
It would be great if you found a person who handles several excellent product lines.
In vinyl I would look at SoftLite, HiMark, Sunrise.
It is who worth the time to find the right people and product, yes you will spend more time than you want and learn more than you want, but hang in there.

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#6 Post by sharona » Thu May 24, 2012 1:46 pm

Thanks all for the advice. I have a local contractor coming over this afternoon to discuss (they work with Harvey, Simonton, TrimLine, Andersen, Alside). He was highly recommended by a friend that I trust. Also have a call out to another local family owned company that was recommended by a relative who used to work in construction as "the person I'd want to install windows on my own house". So... we'll see how it goes.

Sharona

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#7 Post by HomeSealed » Thu May 24, 2012 2:24 pm

sharona wrote:Thanks all for the advice. I have a local contractor coming over this afternoon to discuss (they work with Harvey, Simonton, TrimLine, Andersen, Alside). He was highly recommended by a friend that I trust. Also have a call out to another local family owned company that was recommended by a relative who used to work in construction as "the person I'd want to install windows on my own house". So... we'll see how it goes.

Sharona
Sharona, that is not exactly a stellar list of options there, but the upper level Simontons and wood Andersen products are decent. They guys above have recommended a few outstanding options, so I'd suggest at least one bid from a company that carries at least one of those products. A rule of thumb to help you determine the quality of a given product would be to compare the thermal and structural performance ratings. It is really the only objective way to do so.

sharona
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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#8 Post by sharona » Thu May 24, 2012 8:49 pm

Are these performance statistics good, bad or ugly?

U-Factor 0.30
R-Value 3.33
SHGC 0.31
Visible Light Transmittance 0.56

I'm still learning so let me know what you think! Thanks.

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#9 Post by toddinmn » Fri May 25, 2012 12:03 am

Those are easily obtainable by most manufactures. Not great nor bad. Do you know what the air infiltration or DP numbers are? Does the frame have a good mil. thickness? What brand and model are they from?

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#10 Post by HomeSealed » Fri May 25, 2012 8:29 am

+1 to Todd's post. Those numbers are pretty much the bare minimum required by Energy Star and are achievable by just about every product. By comparison, there are great options that can achieve as low as .25 -.26 u value out of a double pane without sacrificing the SHGC or condensation resistance. In addition, the air infiltration and design pressure ratings should be considered as well.

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#11 Post by TheWindowNerd » Fri May 25, 2012 9:00 am

To give you an idea AI/AL < .09 is what you should look for the lower the better.
Two of the mfg that I mentioned are at < .05 evne for their mid priced models.
thewindownerd....

sharona
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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#12 Post by sharona » Fri May 25, 2012 12:28 pm

HomeSealed wrote:+1 to Todd's post. Those numbers are pretty much the bare minimum required by Energy Star and are achievable by just about every product. By comparison, there are great options that can achieve as low as .25 -.26 u value out of a double pane without sacrificing the SHGC or condensation resistance. In addition, the air infiltration and design pressure ratings should be considered as well.
I'm assuming these other great options are 50-75% more expensive than Harvey, Simonton etc.??? Based on other quotes I've seen on this board, that seems to be the case. Unfortunately, that would put the project out of my price range. I know you get what you pay for but just because you can't afford filet mignon doesn't mean you shouldn't eat!

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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#13 Post by HomeSealed » Fri May 25, 2012 1:19 pm

sharona wrote:
HomeSealed wrote:+1 to Todd's post. Those numbers are pretty much the bare minimum required by Energy Star and are achievable by just about every product. By comparison, there are great options that can achieve as low as .25 -.26 u value out of a double pane without sacrificing the SHGC or condensation resistance. In addition, the air infiltration and design pressure ratings should be considered as well.
I'm assuming these other great options are 50-75% more expensive than Harvey, Simonton etc.??? Based on other quotes I've seen on this board, that seems to be the case. Unfortunately, that would put the project out of my price range. I know you get what you pay for but just because you can't afford filet mignon doesn't mean you shouldn't eat!
That is not necessarily the case at all, especially for the Simonton option. Pricing will vary greatly by dealer, so you could conceivably find a Himark or Softlite product for substantially less than a Simonton or even Alside option. The average price for mid level window from a top manufacturer may be in the $500+ ballpark, with the top offerings going to $6-$7-$800+ depending on many variables. I've seen pricing both higher and lower as well, so it is really key to get a few quotes. What I can say for certain, is that even for an good entry level product, you'll pay $400's minimum, and that may not even be realistic depending on your market. Anything less than that and you are playing with fire.

sharona
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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#14 Post by sharona » Fri May 25, 2012 1:26 pm

anthony wrote:To give you an idea AI/AL < .09 is what you should look for the lower the better.
Two of the mfg that I mentioned are at < .05 evne for their mid priced models.
thewindownerd....
Unit Size Air Infiltration Water Resistance Structural Pressure Design Pressure Structural Rating
42x77 0.06 cfm / sq ft 5.43 psf 52.63 psf DP35 H-R35
40x63** 0.22cfm/sq.ft. 7.52psf 75.24psf DP50 H-R50


edit to add: sorry, lost the table formatting in my copy/paste. I'm confused by the two different ratings. Are those the two window sizes that they tested?

sharona
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Re: Best way to select a window and installer

#15 Post by sharona » Fri May 25, 2012 4:38 pm

Got a quote from the local guy on Harvey slimline (which is the model for the performance stats I had posted earlier).

23 DH (mulled together in various combinations - only 7 openings are small enough to go with a single DH)
2 Sliders (basement small windows)
1 Picture window w/ 2 DH flanking it (total size 120 X 72) - required tempered glass because is less than 18" off the floor
full capping
permit
EPA
obscure glass for lower level bath
disposal
$13600

$1660 of that is the tempered glass picture window configuration so taking that out because it really skews the numbers, I calculate that as 25 windows @ roughly $480 per.

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