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.