Seeing Through the Hype: The Real Price of Window Replacement

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We find it amazing that there are still businesses out there whose advertising strategy seems to be based on the idea that customers are incredibly gullible, if not downright stupid. In the field of home improvement, outrageous window replacement deals are the most obvious example: Window Installation for a Penny! Buy 5 Windows and Get the Next 5 Free!

None of those deals are legit and most everyone knows it. But there’s usually at least a kernel of truth in the claim to keep the law at bay while still catching your eye. The low-ball figures are just the tip of the iceberg of what goes into the overall product and installation.

They want you to think about getting something like this:

Nice Installed window for post 17

When in reality, all their bottom dollar prices will get you is this:

Bad window installed for post 17

The deals are just the bait to get your attention and then the true costs of window replacement are added on. Installation?  Up-graded Glass? Window Delivery? Building permit? Insulation? Outside Trim? Rotten wood replacement? Disposal costs? All of these items (and more) are considered “extras” not included in the base price of the windows.

The Devil is in the Details

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. You have to stop and ask yourself, “How could this business possibly make any money by offering window installation for a penny or giving away half their inventory for free? What’s the catch?”

The “catch” is in the details, of course. As a homeowner, you don’t need to know how to replace windows. Indeed, few homeowners could do it themselves even if they wanted to. But, you do need to know the process involved or you’ll be vulnerable to pricing games and costly add-ons.

There are three major areas to focus on when planning your window replacement project:

1)     Current Condition and Future Goal – Window replacement is really a custom project. Every job is different because every home is different. Much of the variability in pricing window replacement is influenced by the current condition of your windows, trim and underlying structure as well as any new structural changes required by the type of window you choose. The more extensive the changes or repairs, the higher the price tag.

2)     Window Options – Walk into any window seller’s location and you’ll see a variety of styles, options and price points. Rest assured that the mindboggling deals you see advertised so frequently only apply to the absolute minimal, bottom of the barrel windows available on the market. And, it usually only includes the window – not the trim, not the frame, no special options or energy efficient features. To get those (plus installation), you pay more.

3)     Labor and Installation – Another old adage, You get what you pay for, holds especially true for window installation. Keep in mind that in many cases, subcontractors for retailers don’t actually work for the store. They are independent crews paid a flat fee to install each window. With this set-up, they have an incentive to do the installations as quickly as possible with the least expensive materials to increase their profit margins. With this in mind, make sure you know who will have open access to your home. Check out their reputation, ask about years of experience on the crew, and verify that they back up their work once the initial install is completed. And get it in writing.

With the internet, today’s consumer can complete more research at home before they ever make that first phone call or store visit. Make sure you’re prepared to ask the right questions when you decide to replace your window. Download our FREE Windows Replacement Checklist and start planning like a pro.

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