How To Vet Window Contractors on the Phone

One of the most important steps in your window replacement project is the phone calls to your potential contractor.

Talking to them on the phone is your opportunity to vet your potential installation expert and decide whether or not they are going on your shortlist.

Of course, you will only be able to make the final decision after a face-to-face meeting with your potential contractor, but if you can get the first phone call right, you could save a lot of time and money.

During the calls, you have the opportunity to ask critical questions and ensure that you’ve covered the foundational basis of appointing a contractor to best suit your specific and unique needs.

Below we’ve compiled a simple guide to vetting potential contractors for your window replacement project.

How Long Has The Company Been in Business?

It goes without saying that, the longer a company has been in business, the better. There simply is no substitute for experience. Companies that have been operational for less than 3 years should carefully be scrutinized. This does not mean that they should be totally avoided, however, as a new company could still have experienced employees with amazing technical knowledge and local expertise. Also, keep in mind that a newer contractor should be a lot more competitive and offer lower rates and warranties so that you still have some room for negotiation.

Are They Licenced and Insured?

Not all states require window installers to be licensed, so be sure to check with your state. All legitimate window installation contractors will carry comprehensive liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and property damage coverage.

Without this, you run a massive risk of liability if any accidents were to happen during the installation. You can easily verify this by asking about the relevant certifications and licensing, which they should be able to produce copies of before you accept their quote.

How Much Installation Experience Do They Have?

Installing new replacement windows can change the energy efficiency of your home and lower your overall heating and cooling costs. However, much relies on the installation itself. With poor installations, your windows may not function optimally. When discussing your options with a window installer, keep in mind that a trustworthy, professional window installer will have keen insight regarding all the types of window installations that are popular in your local region. They should also be able to give you a ball-park estimate but, more importantly, insist on an individual assessment of your property before they commit to any installations.

Equally, once on site, your contractor should be able to look at all the opportunities your home presents to qualify for local, regional, federal tax incentives, as well as other ways to possibly save. That’s why finding an experienced contractor is so essential.

Can They Provide References?

Don’t be shy to ask for references or referrals. Get contact information and follow up – not only get a feel for the type of work they did, but also what type of experience you will be letting yourself in for by allowing this contractor onto your property. If you are able to view any of their previous work, even better.

How to Deal With An Estimate

Once you receive an estimate from the contractor you are considering, check that they have entered a full breakdown of all expenses as well as a clear explanation of how the costs were calculated. If you’re not sure of anything, ask for clarification. Also, be sure to agree that any unexpected changes or expenses to the project will have to be presented and agreed upon in writing.

What About Warranties?

Most window installation contractors should offer manufacturer’s warranties included in the overall cost calculation. This will serve to protect you against any manufacturer’s defects. Equally, most contractors will offer workmanship warranties that last for up to a year – enough for any problem with installation or materials to show up. Under these 2 warranties, any problems with your installation or windows should be corrected by your chosen contractor. Keep in mind that a workmanship warranty is simply a means for contractors to back up their own work and stand behind the quality of their own workmanship. Even if problems arise after your workmanship warranty is expired, most reliable contractors will still be willing to assist. However, be sure to clarify what is, and what is not, covered in your warranty.

Everything You Need To Know About Window Replacement Quotes

As with most home improvement projects, one of the most important steps is gathering and comparing potential contractors’ quotes. For window replacement, this is a very important step in the process. Smart homeowners request at least 3 to 4 quotes to compare and discuss before they commit to a contractor.

Evaluating multiple quotes not only helps homeowners to consider which contractor is best suited for their specific project – but it also encourages potential contractors to be competitive with their pricing as they will be competing for your business.

However, keep in mind that a window replacement “estimate” is not the same as a “quote”. Let’s have a look at how to analyze your quote.

Estimates vs Quotes – What’s The Difference?

Although the two terms are used interchangeably, once you start requesting prices from potential contractors, you may start receiving either estimates or quotes for the installation. The information contained in these may differ so it’s important to understand what you are looking at and get the terminology right.

Window Replacement Estimates

An estimate is exactly that. A professional’s estimate of how much the window replacement project is going to cost. This is not set in stone but can only be considered a rough idea of how much the contractor believes the installation will cost. However, when it comes to the actual cost, there will be a difference in estimates from different contractors. This is part of the reason why you have to compare estimates from at least 3-4 contractors. You will immediately get a clearer idea of your regional pricing trends for this particular type of installation.

Window Replacement Quotes

A quote is a detailed document that sets out everything you need to know about the window installation. This document should contain a full description of the job at hand, the related costs, as well as any other unique and specific information related to the job at hand. Once this document has been signed, it becomes a binding contract, so be sure to accept it ONLY if you have scrutinized the information contained within.

Evaluating Your Window Replacement Quote

Once your quotes start coming in, it goes without saying that you have to spend a few minutes scrutinizing each and comparing the rates. Window replacement quotes can be lengthy documents depending on the scope of the job – with a lot of details that set out all the costs. The entire document should be transparent and thorough with a full description and breakdown of how the costs were calculated.

By viewing the quote, you should be able to see the cost of materials, hourly rates for labor, the start and end dates for the project, and any related costs that could influence the overall price of your window replacement project. There should be no hidden costs and everything must be clearly listed. Costs may include things such as permits, site preparation & clean-up, dumpster hire, and more.

A good contractor has nothing to hide. All the information will be organized and easy to understand with meticulous attention to detail. If you are installing single hung windows, it should specify “single-hung windows”, and not just “windows”.

If your quote is not properly itemized as discussed, ask for a revised quote before signing your contract. Also remember, a quote should never contain the words “as discussed”, but instead show a full breakdown of how the costs were calculated.

However, evaluating a quote isn’t simply comparing rates. Here’s where many people make their first major mistake. It’s quite tempting to simply go for the contractor offering you the best rate, and while finding a good deal is essential, it’s more important finding a reliable contractor best suited to your particular type of window installation.

Remember, Window Replacement Quotes Vary!

Always consider the type and size of the project. Window replacement quotes can wildly differ but the difference in quotes is usually about 10-15%. Bids that are too low should ring some alarm bells, but double-check your contractor’s calculations too. They’re only human after all. However, consider the following factors:

Factors that lead to higher quotes:

  • Well-established, high-end contractors often charge more for their equipment and expertise
  • The window brand you ultimately choose will influence the overall cost
  • The scope of the job could lead to higher rates
  • Your regional pricing trends and location could to higher quotes

Factors that lead to lower quotes:

  • Contractors who are missing some of the vital paperwork might be able to offer a lower quote. They may not be licensed or even uninsured to be able to undercut competitors. Don’t allow your chosen contractor to cut any corners, especially when it comes to paperwork.
  • Opportunistic scammers often try to take advantage of the window replacement by searching out desperate homeowners. This is especially true after disasters like a hurricane where homeowners may be feeling stressed and under pressure to replace their windows.
  • Contractors desperate for work may also offer very low rates. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

Window Replacement Near Me? Do The Following First.

Vet Your Contractors Online

When it comes to home improvement projects, vetting contractors online is standard practice for smart homeowners. It’s one of the small measures you can take to ensure you find the most reliable contractor to suit your specific and unique requirements Doing a quick online search of the contractor’s name or business should generate some results linking back to past customer reviews. Here you might get a better idea of what type of experience you’re in for.

Don’t Just Accept. Negotiate!

Contractors are often willing to negotiate at least some parts of the quote. Of course, some items on the list may be out of their control and non-negotiable, but once you’ve compared quotes you should have a much better idea of your local pricing trends and which prices you can negotiate.

Save All Your Paperwork

Once you receive your quotes, start a file and keep everything. This can really help you reference specific items or services as set out in your contract. Your signed quote is a binding contract, and once you’ve accepted it, the contractor cannot change any parts contained therein without your approval.

Are Replacement Windows Really Worth It?

Once you start toying with the idea of remodeling your home, the first thoughts that spring to mind for most homeowners include bathroom and kitchen remodeling. This is not a bad idea considering how these types of renovations could potentially increase the overall value of your home. And who wouldn’t want a luxurious whirlpool tub to enjoy and have a spa-like experience every day?

However, with any type of home remodeling, you really have to be sure about what you want to get out of it, and when you’re on a tight budget, you have to make the best decision, not only for your pocket but for your home too.

If you are realistic about the options laid before you and simply looking for a sound investment that will instantly elevate the value of your property, a smarter and more practical approach to home remodeling is window replacement. Here’s why it makes more sense…


Window Replacement – The Smart Investment

Depending on what you are trying to achieve with the replacement, installing new home windows comes with a myriad of benefits, making it the obvious choice for many homeowners. This type of installation can instantly increase your curb appeal while enhancing your home’s interior by channeling more natural light into all your living areas. If you want to increase your home’s overall energy efficiency, allowing you to save on your monthly utility costs, some quality replacement windows can do that too.

More importantly, window replacement offers one of the best returns on investments when compared to most home remodeling projects. By installing mid-range vinyl, for example, you can recoup anywhere between 70-75% of the initial cost. Wood windows can be as high as an 80% return on your investment depending on the type and quality of the windows you chose.

Window Replacement Cost Factors to Consider

Once you start to consider how much windows installation really costs, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most reliable and cost-effective investments you can make. For example, the average windows installation costs anywhere between $150 and $800 per window. If your window replacement costs $500, you could recoup as much as $400 with the current return on investment.

Compare that to an upscale bathroom remodel at roughly 55% return on investment – or even a mid-range kitchen renovation in the region of 58%, and it becomes a lot clearer to see why, when considering any type of remodeling project, windows often come out on top.


Window Types To Consider

Deciding that you are going to opt for window replacement is the easy part. Picking the right window is the tricky part. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you choose the best windows for your particular home and unique requirements:

Best value for money

Single-hung windows: These are the most affordable option on the market. They are generally cheaper to install too due to the fact they consist of fewer moving parts.
Double-hung windows: This is the most commonly installed window today and also a more affordable option. They provide better ventilation, are easier to clean than most windows, and provide great long-term value.
Casement windows: Casement windows are more expensive, but with unmatched energy efficiency and unobstructed views, it’s easy to see why this window has remained popular.

Aesthetic appeal

Picture windows: These windows offer amazing unhindered views of the outside. If you have a large property and want to show off some landscaping views and outdoor scenery, then look no further. Picture windows also complement modern architecture, making the priceless for many homeowners.
Bay windows: Bay windows are both attractive and practical. Even though they can be expensive, the return on investment alongside the aesthetic appeal they offer makes them worth it for many homeowners.

Energy Efficient Windows

Depending on your region’s climate, you may have to consider different types of energy-efficient windows better suited to your region. If you live in a colder region, you could benefit from ENERGY-STAR windows.

On the other hand, should you live in a warmer climate, you might consider Low-E windows that filter out UV light and reduce harmful rays entering your home. Not only will this create a more comfortable living environment, but also protect your home’s interior, by preventing furniture from fading in direct sunlight.

Windows carrying the Energy Star certification are guaranteed to have passed the most rigorous testing to ensure they meet the highest standards. You can expect windows of this quality to offset an average of 12% energy savings. Consider the following window types:


Single-Pane Windows

Single-pane windows offer poor insulation with one layer of glass. They are not energy-efficient and you could lose up to 20-30% of the heat in your home if they are not installed in conjunction with storm windows. Overall, single-pane windows are not a solid option if you want energy savings.

Double-Pane Windows

As the name suggests, two layers of glass are used in the construction of double-pane windows. Sometimes, these are insulated with a gas like argon to ensure it maximizes energy efficiency. Essentially, if you are interested in the energy-efficient qualities a window can bring, you have to consider a double-pane.

It’s equally important to consider the availability of rebates and credits in your area. Many local utility companies offer rebates per window rebate for Energy Star or other energy-efficient windows. Depending on where you reside, you could be looking at anywhere in the region of $200 or more rebate per window. It’s always advised to get in touch with your local utility to ask about any rebates and other savings on window replacements.


9 Questions You Absolutely Have To Ask Your Window Contractor

Having a list of questions to ask your potential window replacement contractor is nothing new. Most homeowners have at least a handful of questions to ask a potential contractor before they even request a quote. And although some obvious questions will be in the front of your mind, there are some questions you absolutely have to ask any potential contractor before you let anyone onto your property to commence any work. Here are 9 questions you absolutely have to ask your potential windows contractor.

Question 1 – How long have they been in business?

A windows contractor that’s been in business for many years must have encountered their fair share of window installations. Naturally, a well-established company will most likely have systems in place to avoid many problems that could occur during installation while being able to anticipate many others. That being said, remember that a relatively new company may still have years of experience behind them, so this is a good time to try and establish how much window installation experience they actually have. Your best bet is to do your research ahead of time so that you have some background information on the company before you first contact them.

Question 2 – Do they have a list of references?

A good follow-up question when trying to establish the contractor’s actual window installation experience is to ask for references. Being able to talk to previous customers or even view any of your potential contractor’s previous installations could really give you peace of mind.

Question 3 – Do they have proof of insurance?

Asking about insurance isn’t just to establish whether or not they actually have. Contractors should carry both worker’s compensation and liability insurance, and provide proof of both before you accept any quotes.

Question 4 – Will they be applying for all the necessary permits?

Not all window replacement or repair jobs require special permits. If it’s a small decorating job, you probably don’t. But any remodel or repair that changes the structure of your home will require permits. Your contractor should be able to tell just by your description whether or not permits are required. Moreover, they should be able to get the permit from the building department, saving you the time of doing it. If they aren’t able to, this should be a red flag.

Question 5 – Can they tell you about regional incentives and discounts?

Smart homeowners always check if they qualify for any discounts when tackling home improvement projects. When it comes to windows, reliable and well-established contractors should be knowledgeable about your local and federal tax cuts as well as other incentives and rebates.

Question 6 – How are they going to clean up after the job has been completed?

A reliable contractor is going to ensure they leave nothing behind. All the rubble removed by their own crew and clean-up costs should be set out in the original quote if there are any. Discuss clean-up charges and be sure that everything, including the method that will be used, is clearly listed when you receive a quote.

Question 7 – What measures will be taken to protect your property?

Some contractors may not like this question because of the tone, but window replacement is messy, firstly, and secondly…you’re letting strangers into your home. Will they be covering the furniture with tarps? Will they wear shoe coverings when walking through your home? Can you rest assured that they will lock up after themselves if you are not there? Will they recommend items you should move before they arrive?

Question 8 – Do they offer warranties?

Almost all contractors offer warranties. This is the assurance that they stand behind their work. Additionally, the materials being used should automatically come with a manufacturer’s warranty, so be sure to check.

Question 9 – Are there any hidden/ additional charges I should be aware of?

There should be no hidden costs, but window replacement projects can be unpredictable. Once underway, circumstances can change and costs can be affected. However, every item and service being provided should be clearly listed in your quote. Of course, some costs cannot be calculated before a contractor has actually visited your property to assess your particular installation requirements, but this is where quality installation experts take the opportunity to what other possible discounts you may qualify for as well as foresee any possible problems that may end up affecting your price.