What to Consider When Getting a Window Estimate

Once you have received a firm price from your window contractor, make sure your concerns have been completely addressed to your satisfaction:

What type of warranty is included? Remember, obtaining a strong, written guarantee should be mandatory when buying replacement windows. All vinyl window manufacturers should provide a lifetime warranty, as quality vinyl windows and doors are constructed to last a lifetime. The majority of wooden windows, with some form of exterior cladding, provide a ten-year warranty. This does not mean vinyl is better, but wood simply does not last forever. The three heavy hitters in the wood window market are Marvin, Andersen, and Pella, all with a ten-year warranty.

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Prorated vs. Non-Prorated Warranties

Understand that there are non-prorated lifetime warranties and prorated lifetime warranties.

  • Nonprorated means the warranty will not depreciate over the course of the lifetime. Many "lifetime" warranties don’t explain this, because they are in fact prorated, costing you additional money later down the line. Non-prorated warranties protect the product or service for the full length of the term.
  • Prorated warranties require the homeowner to pay partially for the service, and the percentage of how much the homeowner must pay each year increases.

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Find out just how long the manufacturer has been making their windows. A lifetime warranty is no good should the manufacturer suddenly go out of business. Once you're confident the manufacturer is well established, ask how long the contractor has been replacing windows and make sure they are licensed and insured. Being licensed and insured doesn't necessarily mean they're good, but it does give them accountability.

How much and what type of maintenance is required? When you're told that your windows are virtually maintenance-free, that means you never need to scrape, paint, or stain your windows ever again. Should damage occur or repairs be necessary, how and when will repairs be completed? Any contractor worth their salt will be in the position to address damage or repair concerns immediately and not have it take a week or two. How much will the new windows increase the value of your home? The answer will depend primarily on the quantity and quality of the windows you purchase.