Replacement Windows, my experience and advice

14 Replies

Hello everyone, I recently started looking into windows for my rental property. I need 20 windows all together. I used Homeadvisor to find a couple windows installers and they were both rather expensive. One crazy expensive (Dabella), and the other (Sears) seemed middle of the road after end of the year discounts (no doubt a sales tactic). It seems that the windows are good quality (better than I would probably put in a rental) but the sales people are pushy and trying to get me to sign right then.... which I was not having any of. I've never had to install a full property of windows before and assumed that I would get a windows installer who could get me a deal since I'm buying the windows in bulk and then just pay for the labor. Instead, it seems they are trying to sell me top of the line windows that are overkill for this type of property. Is this typical for most windows installers? 

Now, I did contact a 3rd windows installer by doing a local google search. They carried the lower end windows that I would likely choose (same as at home depot) but he was charging more than home depot for the same windows. He may match the price he said. So my question is this, since I'm doing lower end windows, should I just consider buying the windows from Home Depot or Lowes myself and then just paying a contractor to install them if all of them are going to overinflate the price or try to upsell me? What has been your experience? 

Check out abc supply, for $20-$30 more they carry a much better window then cheap home depot junk. Any decent carpenter can install windows. Get a labor only bid, select your materials ... Just my $0.02. Good luck.

@Corey G. Buying 20 windows isnt buying in bulk , its an average job . Any good contractor can install them . I highly suggest that you pick the window , but let the contractor supply the windows and labor . Why ?   I am a contractor , the minute you tell me you have the windows , my price went up for labor . Basically I am going to make the same profit one way or the other . 

Standard double hung windows are easy to install.  It's not rocket scientist work. I've used Lowes and HD and like the HD windows better.  It's a DIY, unless there's lead based paint.   

This is my first post on the forums, but I worked in the glass business as a journeyman glazier for nearly 10 years.  Window quality makes a huge difference in the long term both with build quality/functionality and energy costs.  But the top of the line stuff is not significantly better than the middle of the road stuff.  So, if you are looking for something quick that looks decent the Home Depot windows will suffice, but if you plan to hold for a few years and are paying utilities, it might be worth it to spring for the middle of the road stuff.  As far as install goes, it's not particularly difficult but improper installation can cause issues with moisture and air conditioning leakage.  The company I worked for was a good company with quality products.  If you want to build a relationship with a glass contractor, the owner's a good guy to touch base with.  He'll usually cut you a deal if you buy from him regularly.   PM me and I can send you his info.  

@Corey G.

Window business is a weird one. Some thoughts: 

  • In the bigger construction world, window manufacturers sell the windows to the job but the actual install is done by another trade (e.g. carpenters, framers, etc.). It's not the most complicated thing to install so it's fine. 
  • Where it can get complicated is when you are not dealing with old construction. This is probably not as a big of a deal in Phoenix but many properties in the East Coast have many oddball windows from the 19th century and early 20th century. Replacing those can get very convoluted and expensive. 
  • As a practical matter, virtually all window contractors want to sell both the material and labor. That's especially true when you work with established ones with a good reputation. Now it is true that part of it is based on the desire to increase profit. But the other reason is logistics. My company does not do smallscale work but I know it is incredibly frustrating for smaller contractors to show up at a job and realize the owners ordered useless things or didn't get enough of something. That ruins their work schedule and means less money.  

I have no idea how handy you are and whether you have any experience managing laborers or tradesman. If you don't have the experience I would probably hire someone to do it. And it's sadly the case that it is really hard to find contractors that are good, fast, and cheap. You are lucky if you can find a contractor that can get two out of the three.  

Disclaimer: While I’m an attorney licensed to practice in PA, I’m not your attorney. What I wrote above does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. I wrote the above for informational purposes. Do not rely on it for legal advice. Always consult with your attorney before you rely on the above information.

Corey I was a door and window installer for Lowe's for 4 years. Contrary to popular belief (and some of the responses here) window installation can be tricky and there are many variables. I can't tell you how many windows I had to pull out and replaced because they were not installed correctly by another company. If you are looking to go on the cheap Cascade Windows will do fine. A good middle-of-the-road window, and the one I most recommend, would be Milgard. 

I don't know how your house is built but if it's stucco don't let someone sell you on the idea of cutting back all the stucco to replace the windows... this adds A TON of unnecessary cost to the job whereas a type of window called a "flush fin" will work in this scenario (the new window slides inside the frame of the old window). 

Window labor should start at $100/window and go up from there depending on other factors. Feel free to PM me with any questions.

The building is brick, build in the 60s. The quote I just got was $176 per window for installation but they said that would include lead testing. I'm guessing the window labor would be more if, in fact, there is lead but it wasn't presented that way. 

Sorry for the late response Corey. $176 per window sounds high to me for brick installation. The lead test is only done once and runs them about $15... the lead test kits can be bought at any box store retailer. Depeding on the size of your windows, you should be in the $120 to $170 (for large windows) range. That being said, if your old windows are what's called "steel frame" windows then yes $176 per window would be about right... because those are very hard to remove and there is an additional fee for that.

They are just aluminum frame windows in there now. Double sliders. Thanks for the advice. I'm getting some other quotes now. By the way the windows I want put in are single slider vinyl white, nothing fancy. Sizes of the windows needed are:

 2 windows 36x36

4 windows 48x48

8 windows 72x36

6 windows 72x48

Home Advisor guys charge more because HA charges ridiculous fees for those leads. HA sent your info to 4 guys who all had to pay $120-200 for the lead. Once you figure out how many of those actually turn into jobs that hire them, you need to add $1k to the price of your job just to cover what they're paying HA. 

If it was only 1000 it wouldn't have been too bad. One company I was quoted 32,000 originally, their sales guys eventually got down to 22,000 when I walked away. The other company was 14,000 for their cheaper windows. The company I found on my own quoted me at 8,300 for plygem windows (which didn't seem all that bad originally) but they charge more than the box store for the same model windows and 176 dollars per window install which I'm hearing is high. So tell me how this sounds. I can buy these cheap plygem windows on my own for 3700 dollars at home depot. Install should be between 2400 to 3400 if Hunter is to be believed. Adding that together I'm coming up with 6100 to 7100 dollars. 4 of the windows need one side tempered so if I account for that then it sounds like I should be paying somewhere between 7000 and 8000 for the windows ideally? Does that sound realistic? 

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