6 Replacement Window Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Filed in Home Improvement, Windows by on January 30, 2016


Stressed Over Money#1   Over Paying –  Don’t fall for the various ploys that are used to get you to buy quick.  For example:

  • The Today Only price – That’s nonsense! If you call back in 2 weeks or more, you’ll still get the same price assuming they haven’t had a legitimate price increase in the meantime.
  • Buy one get one free, buy one get one 50% off, Or 50% off, or free installation.  Fifty percent off of what? You get the idea.  If the price is already inflated to begin with, the discounts being offered will only put them in the ballpark of being somewhat realistic. The steeper the discount, the more you can imagine they’re overpriced to begin with.
  • The ‘let me call my manager’ ploy.  This is an old car salesman’s trick.  The guy sitting across the table from you knows EXACTLY how much he can or can’t discount your project.
  • The ‘you’re in a great location for a yard sign’ ploy.  This may be flattering, but it’s usually nonsense.
  • The appointment that never ends! When the sales rep just won’t leave and they’ve been there for 2 hours or more, they’re on a mission – to wear you down.

Unless you’re dealing with an owner or upper management of a company, in almost all cases, the excess money (known as overage) that you’re charged for your windows is split, in some fashion, between the salesman and the company.  In most instances the overage exceeds the baseline commission the salesman would otherwise earn by 100’s of dollars, if not more.

Watch for the rehash call.  This is when the ‘manager’ of the guy you didn’t buy from calls you on the phone the next day to rehash the deal and offer their “Market Special” deal.  This is a reverse bait and switch. The reduced price you’re being offered is usually not at all for the outrageously priced window you were shown the night before and suddenly $800 for a window that was previously $1500, or more, seems like a bargain!  Don’t fall for it.

Then there’s what’s called price conditioning.  With price conditioning you’ll be shown all kinds of statistics, charts and graphs that are intended to indisputably demonstrate the outrageously high amount of money everyone else is paying for their windows.  (Unfortunately, true in far too many cases.) The intent is to numb you into thinking you’ll never be able to afford any new windows at all.  But fear not, your hero salesman is going to wow you with a much better price.  In fact, you’ll be so relieved that you’re saving a few hundred dollars off of each window that you’ll likely want to  rush to sign on the dotted line. Oops! The sad truth is that the inflated pricing, you were originally so horrified to see, was collected from such a small sampling of contractors, as to be statistically meaningless and a gross misrepresentation.

At Ready Pros we BOB (that’s we Bend Over Backwards) to make you a satisfied customer. Whether you choose to get your estimate online or in the comfort of your own home (1-855-544-7767), you’re going to get the same great nationally recognized brands of products, factory-direct installation, lifetime warranties, outstanding service and very competitive pricing.  If you choose to have an in-home appointment, we promise you an informative no-pressure experience. We’ll gladly give you a written estimate and discuss your options and explain the entire process.

#2   Picking El Cheapo – Everyone loves a bargain!  However, the old adage, “You get what you pay for” certainly applies here.  If an installed window is that inexpensive, you should be asking yourself where are the shortcuts being taken –  Is it how the window is made or installed?  Is the window you think you purchased the same quality and energy efficiency of those that’ll be installed? Is it a combination of some or all of these? Unfortunately, in most cases, by the time you discover the reason(s), it’s too late, and what you once thought was a bargain turns into a long-term loss in comfort, performance and energy efficiency. In other words, not what you bargained for at all!

If at all possible, inspect the windows before they’re installed.  They should arrive with the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) performance label still on them.  The most important values are the U Factor and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC).  These numbers should be equal to or lower (lower is better) than the window performance values on the window(s) you’ve purchased.

Far too many window companies advertise an exceptionally low price to get their foot in your door.  You’ve probably seen many of those adds with prices as low as $175 per installed window.  This is the setup for the classic bait and switch.  It’s only after you go back and read the fine print that you realize that this incredibly low price is only for small windows that have a U factor rating that is unsuitable (and illegal per the building codes) for heated living spaces.  After they’re done with you, the only windows you might get that cheap are in your unfinished basement or attic.

#3   Falling For The Magic Show – Your salesman may stand on top of the demonstration window to show its ‘superior’ strength. He may take a torch to the glass to show its thermal resistance.  He may frost the glass with a spray chiller.  He may take a glass sample and drive a nail with it!  Great show, but the only thing that should really matter is the U Factor and the SHGC mentioned earlier.  The NFRC performance rating is the great equalizer – the rest may be entertaining to watch, but it’s nothing but pure showmanship and has little to do with the performance of your windows over the long haul.

#4   Paying for Extra Bells and Whistles – One the most common ‘extras’ that companies promote is foam insulation inside the window frame (vinyl windows only).  The relative improvement in window performance with or without foam insulation in a vinyl window is insignificant.  Focus on the U factor.  If a window has a 0.28 U factor WITH foam and a competitive window has a 0.27 U factor without foam, the 0.27 window will save you more energy costs, despite not having any foam.

Insulating weight pockets (the cavities the cast iron weights run up and down in – located on both sides of double hung windows) during replacement of old double hung windows has a negligible impact on improving your home’s energy efficiency if the rest of the walls in your home are not properly insulated.  It sounds and looks impressive, but adds little to overall performance.

#5   Incorrect Window Sizing and Poor Installation – Irrespective of how good the rated performance for any given window may be, proper sizing and installation are vital to achieving equally good energy efficiency.  All too often otherwise good windows are incorrectly sized.  This may require extra shimming and excessive filling that degrades window performance.  If shimming is needed it should be minimal and mostly to help keep the window square so that sashes don’t bind and will properly seal.  Spray-in foam should be of the low expanding, closed-cell type and should be applied to a depth of 1” thick (outside to inside) along the entire window perimeter.

Ask if your windows will be installed from the inside or outside of your house.  Depending on your window styles, you may have the option of getting your windows installed from the outside.  If the installation is done from the outside you may save yourself the time and effort of having to repaint your interior window casings.

Window companies install windows year-round.  Be sure the company you pick will be considerate and not remove all your windows in the middle of winter.  They should remove one window at a time or, if you have storm windows, leave them on until the new windows are installed. This applies to inside installations only.

It’s important that the person doing the measuring be just as experienced as those that will ultimately be doing the installing.  The installers should be well-trained and accountable for the quality of their work.

If a company offers factory-direct installation, you have the assurance that the installers doing the work have gone through some additional training to comply with installation standards.  This also provides you with an extra layer of protection that others may not be able to offer.

#6   Not Doing Your Homework – Get a written estimate! You can spot the slick operators quickly with this one.  If they won’t put it in writing, move on.

Make sure the company you’re dealing with is properly insured and licensed to do the work being performed.  In Massachusetts all remodeling contractors must have a valid Home Improvement Contractor’s license (commonly called a HIC license).

If a permit is required (it usually is), avoid the temptation to save a few bucks and get it yourself.  In Massachusetts, contractors are forbidden to encourage you to do that.  If you do, it excludes you from any benefits relating to the Home Improvement Contractor guaranty fund (up to $10,000 in recoverable damages).  It also makes YOU the general contractor on the project and exposes YOU, not the remodeling company, to any and all insurance claims relating to your project, including both property damage AND job related injuries!

Watch out for ‘no interest financing’ offers.  The interest that the company is being charged is being passed on to you in hidden costs.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

The internet provides a wealth of information on just about everything.  Do your homework and research the company you’re considering.  However, be realistic in your expectations.  Companies large and small make mistakes.  Of greater importance is how the mistakes get handled.  A recurring pattern of complaints may be more indicative of a larger problem.

Avoid generic or no-name brands of windows.  If you have warranty issues it may be difficult, if not impossible, to get replacement parts or service.  Any warranty is only as good as the company that stands behind it.  Here again, the internet is a great resource and don’t forget to read the fine print.

Don’t reject the entire crop if you find one rotten apple.  It often happens that a particular division, franchise or sales unit develops a bad reputation elsewhere in the country.  Don’t assume that the entire brand is bad, just make sure they’re not in your backyard!

Focus on getting the best value instead of just the lowest price and you’ll be much more likely to be happy with your final decision for many years to come.


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