Finding The Best Replacement Window Contractors


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Finding The Best Replacement Window Contractors

Replacement windows are not a commodity and window prices aren't set by global demand. Contractors are free to bid out a project anyway they see fit, which isn't always the best deal for the consumer (although for the right consumer it can be turned to their advantage). Your job as a consumer is to find the right contractor or installer at the best price. Here are five steps to doing just that.

1. Get A Bunch Of Estimates

Every single project is different and you won't know the best bid until you have 3 or 4 estimates sitting in front of you. (We do our best to give you pricing at every step and for every product out there, but the fact remains that how a contractor bids out your project is based on 20 factors unique to your home and windows.)

The other great thing about multiple bids is most contractors favor different manufacturers so the bids provide you with a chance to touch and feel the different windows (see how they open and close, check out the hardware, examine the frame design, look at a sample grid and/or screen, examine the glass, play with the locking mechanism etc.) In addition, you can get pricing comparisons between comparable models from the different manufacuturers (compare say Simonton 5050 to OKNA 400 to Soft-Lite Bainbridge). Estimates should be professionally written and presented, as well as broken down into the different price components. If they aren't, ask them if they wouldn't mind doing this.

2. Go Online And Ask About The Quotes

Armed with all of your estimates, submit your project details to an online forum and get responses from top notch installers/contractors.We recommend (no affiliation, they're just awesome). The more specific you are, the better your response (that's why you need the estimates before you go to the forums). Include your location, age of your home, number of windows you are replacing, window sizes, along with the proposed brand/manufacturer that each contractor recommends (include as much detail as possible here - model, glass, frame, fills, options like grids, screens, etc.)

After some back and forth with the online contractors, you will be in one of two places. Either they will tell you that the prices for the specific windows seem good and/or reasonable, which means you can proceed to step 3 or...they will tell you to get some more estimates to clarify whether the bids you have received are good. (Sometimes the contractors don't like the brand recommended by the installers and will give you some solid choices to look into).

3. Check References

Once you've cleared it with the online contractors, it's time to vet the installer. Make sure they are licensed and are members of a trade organization (not a requirement, but a plus). Check to see if they have a website and check on the BBB website for a rating. Ask for 3 references, 1 from at least three years ago. Call all of the homeowners and ask how the job went, whether any issues came up and how the contractor/installer handled it. Ask after the state of their windows today. The one reason to use a reference from a while ago is to make sure that the work has held up over time.

4. Trust Your Gut

Hopefully, you have narrowed it down to one company, but maybe you can't decide between two bids. At this point, you should trust your gut (or you can go back and tell them you can't decide and ask both of them if they can drop the price to sweeten the deal). A good solid company should not leave you feeling unsure about their business practices. You want to go with someone who you feel comfortable with and you trust.

5. Final Dos And Don'ts

The lowest price shouldn't be the automatic winner; remember that some contractors may have large overhead and high fixed costs that force them to charge the consumer a higher price than say a newer company with low overhead. Never sign a contract without taking some time to think it over. Companies that do these high pressure sales jobs where the price suddenly drops hundreds of dollars if you sign right then and there should leave your gut feeling "off." Don't go in for this, you won't sleep for weeks. Make sure you find out about the warranty and whether the contractor has dealt with warranty issues from this company in the past (did they go smoothly, did the company handle the issue to the customer's satsifaction).

That's it. Follow these five steps and you should be good to go finding great windows at great prices, along with solid installation!

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