You’ve decided that it’s time to invest in new residential windows. Now the focus is on where you will buy the windows and who will take care of the installation. Many homeowners turn to one of the big box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot since they’re known and they’re often handy. Others will choose to call a local window replacement company and work through a contractor. Which approach would be best for you? Here’s some information about what to expect with each choice.
Understanding What a Big Box Home Supply Store Has to Offer
One of the advantages that big box stores, like Lowe’s and Home Depot have in general is the power of volume purchasing. As a chain, these stores can negotiate discounts with the manufacturers that supply what the retailers sell. A portion of the money saved thanks to volume purchasing remains with the chain while a portion is used to offer competitive pricing to the chain’s customers.
In the case of new windows, it’s quite possible that the price per window will be a little less at a big box store. Assuming that you need windows in sizes that are considered standard, the savings could be attractive. For a homeowner who needs to manage the replacement on a tighter budget, this can look like the way to go.
Another feature that big box stores offer is flat-rate pricing for deals that involve purchasing goods and using the chain’s installation service. In the case of windows, it’s possible to select your windows, settle on the quantity, and arrange for the chain’s installers to take out the old windows and slip the new ones in place. All this is done for one price that’s quoted to you while you’re still in the store. For a homeowner who has never had to replace aging windows, this solution is quick, simple, and seems to cover it all.
Energy efficiency is a big thing today. The good news is that you’ll see the energy ratings for all the windows offered at the big box store prominently displayed. As long as you know how to interpret the ratings, that makes it easy to see which brand and style offers the best rating overall.
How well can you do in terms of selecting a window style? The chains normally do carry a reasonable array of window designs to consider. You’ll find the more popular types like single and double hung windows with relative ease. Sliding windows are also likely to be displayed for all to see. Depending on where you live, the local chain store may also carry designs that tend to be popular in that part of the country. When you’re looking for something that’s rather basic and designed for more contemporary homes, the odds of finding what you want are pretty good.
Finally, there’s the warranty. The windows purchased from Lowe’s or Home Depot are likely to come with a manufacturer warranty. There may or may not be any guarantees on the installation past the first 30 days. If a defect with the windows is discovered later and it has to do with the production process, you’ll have to deal directly with the manufacturer in most cases.
What Can You Expect From a Window Company?
The temptation to head to your local home supply store is strong, but hold off for right now. It’s a good idea to find out what a local window replacement company can provide. Depending on a number of factors, this may prove to the better option for you.
One of the first differences you’ll notice is that the local service will want to have a contractor visit your home and take a good look at the windows you currently have in place. There are a number of reasons for this. One of them is to determine if all of your windows are in standard sizes or if some of them are a little larger or smaller. The goal is to ensure that the planning includes making any modifications needed to ensure the new windows fit perfectly.
During that visit, the contractor will also want to talk with you about your impression of the present windows. What is it about them that you like? Are there things about them that you don’t like? The responses to those questions help the contractor understand what features the new windows need to possess in order to meet your expectations.
You can expect the contractor to also use this opportunity to discuss the type of materials available for the new windows. It’s not unusual for a local window replacement company to offer windows made of wood, vinyl, or aluminum. The contractor will make it clear that you’re not stuck using the same material that was used for the old windows. In fact, opting for something different might provide some additional benefits. A contractor can point out the merits of each option, allowing you to make a more informed decision.
You can also expect the contractor to discuss energy ratings with you. That goes beyond providing the energy rating provided by the manufacturer. The contractor will provide some idea of what to expect based on other things the professional observed about the house. It’s also not unusual for the contractor to help you understand more about any rebate or tax break that you can receive by opting for windows with a certain energy rating.
There’s one more thing that the contractor will want to go over during that initial inspection. That’s the style of window that you would like for the replacements. A local window replacement company typically carries a wider array of choices. That’s great news if you’re thinking about going with something other than the single hung windows that are currently in place.
Are you wondering if casement windows would work well with your home’s style? Maybe you have older roll-out windows and would like to know if they could be replaced with awning windows. You may even be thinking about installing a bay or bow window in the living or dining room for some added visual interest.
Dealing with a local company does allow you to have access to a manufacturer warranty. The local installer is also likely to offer a guarantee that covers the installation. In many cases, that guarantee will be in force for several months. If a problem arises that has to do with the production of the windows, the installer is also likely to work with you and the manufacturer to resolve the problem.
These are all options that a local window replacement company is likely to offer. There’s no doubt that you can expect more personalized attention in terms of coming up with a customized replacement plan that’s right for your home.
That’s Great But What About the Cost of Going With a Local Window Replacement Company?
At some point, the issue of cost will come up. Depending on how much you have to spend or what you have lined up in the way of financing, the expense for the purchase and installation will be one of the main points you have to consider.
The truth is that you’ll likely find that the initial purchase price for the windows will be higher if you go with a local windows replacement company. How much higher? The price per unit may be only a little higher. Even if you do need a few windows customized for size, the purchase price is still likely to be within your budget.
The cost of labor is also something to consider. You’re likely to find that this expense will also be slightly higher but also within your budget. An added bonus is that the team from the local company specializes in window installations. By contrast, the team sent from the big box store is made up of people who tend to cover a wider range of projects.
So Where Should You Go?
The decision is ultimately yours. It never hurts to check into each of these options and see what you get in exchange for your hard-earned money. Along with finding out what type of windows are available and what’s included in the price, do take the time to research online ratings and reviews. Doing so will provide a more accurate idea of what others have experienced with each of these options.
Remember that you’re about to make a major investment in your home that will impact the market value as well as your comfort and the amount of energy it will take to heat and cool the interior. Take your time, ask lots of questions, and do your research. With careful planning and the right choice, those new windows will serve you well for decades.