It can be overwhelming to choose a window company to replace your windows. Replacing your windows is a significant investment. You want to make sure you have a company that will install your windows correctly and address any issues promptly.
You can get replacement windows from several types of window companies, but it’s up to you how you want to buy them. Everyone offers free estimates, but each company is different in how they offer them to homeowners like you. You could:
Walk into a big box store like Lowe’s or Home Depot. They have many window displays from various large window manufacturers. The sales associates don’t know much about the product, but they can quote you if you have sizes and styles.
Meet with a small contractor. They won’t have a flashy presentation, and they most likely won’t have a window sample to show you. At best, they will have a basic handwritten contract.
Invite a high-pressure salesperson into your home who will only come if all homeowners are available for the presentation. The salesperson will bring samples and glass demos and will prepare to stay in your home as long as it takes.
Search online for your nearest Zen Windows location. They won’t come to your home, but they will provide a hassle-free quote if you provide them a list of windows you want (types and sizes).
Each of these companies is unique in how they buy, sell, and install windows, which determines their price point.
The big-box retailer has national buying power, with several national window brands displayed on the showroom floor. The sales associates don’t know much about the brands, but they can get you a price if you give them window types and sizes.
The small contractor doesn’t have buying power. They buy from a local distributor like hundreds of others. Because they don’t install many windows, they buy at Counter Pricing from the distributor. The product isn’t option-rich — just the basics and their price. They try to sell on price, cutting labor costs to be the lowest.
The high-pressure salesperson works for the biggest window companies in town. They have excellent buying power but a lot of overhead. The high-pressure salesperson works on a 10% commission and sometimes more. This will be the highest price you get.
With Zen Windows, you deal with the owner, who has a wealth of window knowledge and isn’t working for a commission. Zen doesn’t have much overhead and can pass those savings onto the homeowner.
Service & Warranty
Finally, how does the company handle service after the sale? What does their warranty state?
The manufacturer has a warranty that doesn’t include labor. It’s normally pro-rated on the glass and could be transferable to a second homeowner — or not.
The big box store with the national suppliers has limited lifetime warranties, which could be transferable — but you better check. You may have a lifetime warranty, but you could also have a warranty that is 10 years on the product and 20 years on the glass. Labor is whatever their sub-contractor will give you — usually one year.
The small contractor will have a lifetime limited warranty that could be transferable, depending on what product you buy. It’s usually a one-year labor warranty, sometimes a “taillight labor warranty” (that is, it lasts as long as you can see their taillights). Get it in writing.
The high-pressure salesperson will offer a lifetime warranty that is transferable — but do ask. They usually have a one- or two-year labor warranty, and for a fee, they will give you a glass breakage warranty.
Zen Windows offers a transferable lifetime warranty and a transferable lifetime labor warranty with glass breakage.
Take Stock of Your Options
In summary, you have to be comfortable with the company that sells you windows. Your checklist should include:
How did they present the window to you?
Did they use high pressure and spend several hours in the home?
Did they do everything they could to be the lowest price?
Did they provide an online, no-hassle quote?
What was your down payment?
What kind of material warranty did they offer?
10 years on the product, 20 years on the glass
What kind of labor warranty did they offer?
One- or two-year
Do you have a glass breakage warranty?
Yes, but it costs more
Yes, included lifetime transferable
Ask the Window Professor
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