Window replacement is one of the improvement projects that can dramatically increase your home’s visual appeal, efficiency, and overall value. This makes it a crucial investment that you wouldn’t want to waste. One way to ensure your investment pays off is to find a contractor who can meet – perhaps even exceed – your expectations in terms of both service and product quality.
Sometimes, however, when we do end up feeling shortchanged, it’s as much our fault as the contractor’s. How so? Oftentimes, we fail to ask the questions we should – questions that can better help us gauge if our chosen contractor does indeed have enough knowledge, experience, and good working practices in general to do a satisfactory job. Here are some of the things you should ask at the outset:
Is your estimate likely to change, or go up or down?
Once a contractor gives you a written estimate, make sure that you pay attention to all the items listed – all fees, warranties, materials, and the like. While it is possible for estimates to change, if a candidate contractor cannot give you a concrete or straightforward answer to this question, you have the right to doubt their intentions. You may want to do another round of research, or just find another contractor who doesn’t give off a shady vibe.
What’s included in the service?
Even before the project commences, you should know what to expect from the contractor. Do not assume that they will do “this and that” unless they’ve written it into the contract. Ideally, the contractor will remove old windows, install the replacements, and clean up before they say goodbye. You must make sure that all the services to be rendered are included in the written estimate to avoid any last minute extra charges. Again, if the contractor hesitates to explain the scope of the work, maybe it will be best to consider a candidate who can provide you with measurable answers.
Do we need to test for lead? What should I know about lead paint?
Do you have an older home? To be specific, was it built before 1978? If so, then the paint on the sills and windows may still contain lead and you should only transact with a contractor who is EPA-certified, or else, you might be answerable to the government. A reliable contractor should at least know about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program, and be able to deploy at least one certified contractor to the job site, with a valid certificate.
If a window contractor tells you not to worry about lead contamination or poisoning despite knowing that your house was built before 1978, take it as a sign that they don’t know a thing about the program mentioned above, and that you should cross them off your list immediately!
Can I expect energy savings when I replace my windows? Can you help me determine the window specifications that I need to ensure optimal energy savings?
The fenestration industry measures the energy efficiency of products by determining two factors: U-factor and SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient). U-factor, also known as thermal transmission, measures how well a product can prevent heat from escaping. Meanwhile, SHGC has to do with how the window prevents heat from entering the home. The glazing, glass fill, and framing of a window is what helps determine its values.
A reliable contractor can provide you with clear recommendations on which products and energy values you should aim for, depending on your needs and location. Find someone who will provide you with fair and unbiased information, and avoid contractors who insist on using only their products despite providing you with inadequate information.
Alex Esler is the Marketing Manager of Renewal by Andersen, the window replacement subsidiary of Andersen Corporation, a company that has revolutionized the window and door business for more than 110 years. Drawing on the Andersen tradition of over 100 years of quality, innovation and craftsmanship, Renewal by Andersen was founded with the objective of creating a different and better window and door replacement experience for the homeowner. As part of that experience, we sell, install and service patented, energy-efficient replacement windows resulting in beautiful homes and delighted homeowners.