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#1 of 19 Old 07-17-2009, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone done replacement windows for their home? Were you happy with your decision? There's no "cheap" way to do this, I have found, so I am curious what you frugal mamas have done.

We are getting ready to pull the trigger on replacing the 34 windows in our home (31 holes - some have two side by side). Estimates range from $35k for Anderson (yikes!) to $18k for vinyl replacements (dual pane, double hung, low-e, argon, tilt-in, lifetime breakage warranty, etc.). Our house is only worth about $250k, so these are big numbers. BUT, our windows are 20 year old single pane aluminum windows - there's really nothing worse. They are VERY leaky/drafty and hold no heat in or out. They break constantly because they are so thin. There are so energy in-efficient it's crazy. Our whole neighborhood has these windows and I can't imagine they will last much longer before it's really necessary to replace them to sell because they are just so bad compared to what's out there now. However, I would say probably 1% have done it so far (surely because of the cost, but windows aren't getting any cheaper). We want to do it for family comfort rather than resale since we aren't selling, but we are always thinking about resale just in case. (FWIW, we live in central Texas, and it's been over 100 every day for the last few weeks. In the winter it's amazing here, and we rarely ever hit freezing, but summer temps can be brutal.)

I would love to hear about any experience you ladies have had with replacing windows. It's a chunk of change we are willing to spend for the comfort of a better home environment, but the frugal side of me hates spending cash like that... I just need some reassurance that I won't regret doing it!

Thanks!

Laura
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#2 of 19 Old 07-17-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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We did it and are very happy. Had the type of windows you described and hated them (we are in NE so heat loss was an issue). Our windows were wider than they were tall, so we changed the whole opening to make them taller and narrower (went from sliders to double hung), and that really updated the way our house looked. We had to remove our siding to do this, so insullated at the same time, so our change was due partly to that, but it's been great. Everyone asked me whether our house felt warmer, and my answer is always (with a smirk) "no - our thermostat is set the same!" But what we do feel is the absence of air moving around and raising the hairs on our arms. Wierd. Anyhow - to do our windows - a total of 21 I think - plus the front door and side panel to that, and reframe every window opening, and replaster, I think we paid in the neighborhood of $16K. And that was Anderson windows. We got a whole range of quotes. Highest came from the window manuf. who oursource the install. We went with a local handyman who ordered the windows and did all the work. I almost didn't buy our house because of the gross windows, so I am sure it will help if and when we do sell. They were such a turnoff. Good luck!
Oh - and if yours are sliders like ours, you may consider changing the opening too. Some places we narrowed to put in one double hung, and others we widened to put in two double hungs. If you do a straight replacement window into the existing hole you will loose a couple of inches of sunlight all around which is no fun!

Katherine mother to DS 8/03 and DD1 9/06 and DD2 6/10
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#3 of 19 Old 07-17-2009, 12:48 PM
 
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We replaced the windows in the 80 year old part of our house. The 30 year old part needs to be replaced eventually but wasn't a priority right now. I'm very happy we made the decision. There is less breeze/drafts. It's quieter. I love having easy to open windows that stay where you put them. (Each old window had a dowel for proping the sash.) I keep meaning the crunch the numbers and see if usage went down. After getting many bids, the company we used was Champion.

It wasn't cheap was was a lot less than I expected. I was thinking it would be 20K and it ended up being 5k for 8 windows, 5 of which were very big.

These windows were why I joined Angie's List. Have you check that out?
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#4 of 19 Old 07-17-2009, 01:13 PM
 
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We did this a few years back. We went from old wooden double hungs that wouldn't open/close properly to vinyl double-hungs like you described. I think we paid about $13K for the whole house, including the slider and the 5x12 in the bedroom.

We do not regret it at all (as a whole). There are a few things we do regret - not getting a few of them frosted (most are frosted/textured glass on the bottom for privacy), we also had a few that had been replaced earlier that we didn't replace the second time and the first set were just inferior and now have problems. I wouldn't have put a double-hung over the kitchen sink... I can't reach it without a step-stool and it just gets FILTHY. But for the most part we love them, and we noticed a HUGE difference in temperature after doing it. We don't have central heat/air, and that first winter we really were commenting on how much warmer the house felt without all those drafts.

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#5 of 19 Old 07-17-2009, 09:40 PM
 
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I was going to say don't do it ... then I saw the part about the single pane aluminum. : Those windows may be well worth replacing, make sure to get Energy Star windows with a heat-reflective coating on the outside. See below for state and local rebate/credit programs.

While you are at it, check your attic insulation levels. Most attics can be brought up to the suggested level at a very reasonable cost - this will increase comfort and reduce AC costs. Most houses from the 50's and 60's are under-insulated. I strongly recommend blown-in cellulose over any other insulation option.

Some links:

Renewable energy incentives in your state
http://www.dsireusa.org/

2009 Federal energy tax credits
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?...pr_tax_credits

DOE Insulation Zip Code calculator
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer...nsulation.html
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#6 of 19 Old 07-18-2009, 12:09 AM
 
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We looked into it and found that it was going to be too much for our pockets. One of the places we called was Home Depot, for an estimate.

When the man came out he looked at them and told us point blank that window installation is easy as pie, You just have to make sure you measure the rough opening correctly in united inches...i think that is what its called. Well, every one else we had come do an estimate measured the windows, so we had that already. The windows are pretty cheap compared with what they would charge to put them in as well...we do a few at a time and we haven't had any problems with it....I would imagine we've done 7 for a little under 1000$. That's for vinyl replacement, double hung, low-e glass. We also did two that were casements.

I would say it's pretty easy to do...you might just need some extra hands. We replaced a pretty big one in our back room...47X something(can't remember)...so that defiitely took some extra help.

Mama to 14yo, 9yo, 7yo, and babe born 9/2012
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#7 of 19 Old 07-18-2009, 12:22 AM
 
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Our house desperately needs new windows also. not sure if this is an option for you, but this is what we are going to do. We are going to start replacing one or two windows ourselves. Not everyone knows how to install, but you could ask around, if your friends know friends who are looking to make some money on side jobs. They'd make a few bucks and you'd save a ton. You could even find someone on the side to do them all, if you have the money to do it. We don't, which is why we are going at it window by window, paying cash along the way.
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#8 of 19 Old 07-18-2009, 01:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tynme View Post
Our house desperately needs new windows also. not sure if this is an option for you, but this is what we are going to do. We are going to start replacing one or two windows ourselves. Not everyone knows how to install, but you could ask around, if your friends know friends who are looking to make some money on side jobs. They'd make a few bucks and you'd save a ton. You could even find someone on the side to do them all, if you have the money to do it. We don't, which is why we are going at it window by window, paying cash along the way.
This is what we are doing starting this summer. Our windows aren't *that* bad, 22 years old, top of the line at that time, but some are starting to fall apart. There is a very large one in the master bedroom that has to be replaced this summer, the snow over the last couple bad winters damaged it. My dad is a contractor and could help us but he is busy. A good friend of mine's hubby works in contraction and is out of happy and needing extra money, he is going to do a few things around the house for us.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
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#9 of 19 Old 07-18-2009, 10:11 AM
 
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The Aluminum frame windows are held in by just a couple of screws ... so DIY installation could be pretty simple for you. I tried one DIY window in our house (wood single pane windows being replaced - hard to remove) and found my measurements were slightly off Our contractor had to modify the window slightly in the vertical dimension to make it latch.

Try one or two at a time, upstairs window replacement should be better for comfort than downstairs. Start with East or West sides assuming you get the upgraded reflective windows (a must for an AC climate like Texas!)
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#10 of 19 Old 07-18-2009, 04:49 PM
 
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We have a home that was built in the 1880s and had its original windows when we bought the house.

We are slowly replacing the windows with replacement windows (purchased through Home Depot) and DH is doing the work himself. DH used to work in construction during his college years and is a great handyman kinda guy so we do a lot of home improvement jobs ourselves.

It's been a fab experience for us - drafts eliminated, our natural gas and electricity (fan on our heater) bills have gone down, etc.


We paid a bit over $400 per window and love having windows that open easily and don't flake off old paint!
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#11 of 19 Old 07-18-2009, 08:00 PM
 
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Don't think I'll ever do replacement windows again. When we renovated our first house we did that b/c it was so much cheaper. Over the last 8 years, we could have paid the more expensive windows off with the extra we have paid in electric bills. I hate them and will only do good, quality windows again.

single mommy to identical twin girls (3/06) Non-traditional mama just : through life.
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#12 of 19 Old 07-18-2009, 11:44 PM
 
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My husband and I own a remodeling business and about 85% of our sales are replacement windows.

I'm sorry but over a thousand dollars per window is way too much; I'm guessing it was an Andersen Renewel quote or else you have a lot of wood replacement going on with the install. Either way this number can be much, much lower and you can still get a great quality window that looks good too.

A quote for $529 on vinyl windows is a little high, but you do have metal windows which out here (NJ) generally means they are incased in a sheet rock opening and requires cutting out the window which is more involved install then a typical wood window removal. If this is a really high-end vinyl window then the price isn't terribly unreasonable, but honestly in this recession you should be able to cut at least a hundred dollars off that number?

Have you looked at window samples for the windows you were quoted?
Do the proposals specifically state that their windows will qualify for the energy tax credit (you should get all $1500 available)? Being an energy star window isn't good enough; the solar heat gain coefficiency has to be at or lower than .29, as welln the u-factor.
Have you checked out the contractor with BOTH the BBB and Consumer Affairs? Unresolved complaints and/or a high number of complaints is a big red flag.
Does your quote include grids in the windows?
Have you checked out the window warranty online, is it limited and or prorated?
Manufacturer is very important so you really need to know a little about the company making these windows.
Also, even if JC himself were making the windows if they are not measured properly and/or poorly installed you will NEVER get your money's worth on energy efficiency. The windows should fit tightly in the opening and not require extra foam or other materials to pack-in the windows in the opening; I would watch the installers when they are installing to make sure they do not have to do any other work to get the windows in the openings other than what is specifically stated in your contract.

Big chains are going to be the most expensive because they have big overhead costs, especially with advertising costs; those expenses are passed on to the consumer.

Your best bet is to find an individual contractor who works for himself, has all his equipment, an updated truck/box truck, is properly licensed and insured (you have a right to ask for a copy of the insurance), and has wonderful references. These guys know they are highly skilled and don't need to work for someone else who makes a bulk of money on their back.

Small mom-and-pop stores (like us) are also really good bets because they typically provide good service and better prices then the big stores, and generally have as good -if not better- installers then the big chains.

I hope this info helps you a little in your decision. PLease feel free to ask me anything you want in this arena; I've got ten years of knowledge and am happy to share.

Drew, mom to Ben (1-7-08), expecting another wonderful babe 4-1-10 via .
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#13 of 19 Old 07-19-2009, 02:50 AM
 
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We have replaced a number of windows in our house and been happy with the new windows. Our old windows were 30-year-old single-pane aluminum windows and they are terrible. Thank goodness we only have about 15 windows! We have had 5 done so far and it has cost a ton because we did go with higher-end windows--we plan to live in this house 'forever' and felt it was worth the expense in the long run. 4 of the windows were in bedrooms and the temperature difference in those rooms has been amazing, it is like night and day vs last year.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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#14 of 19 Old 07-20-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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We just got new replacement windows (all the bells and whistles that qualify for the new energy tax credit) for about 5000 and we have 17 windows. Get more estimates, we went with a local guy that used to work for a big company but has done most of our neighbor's windows. He was much cheaper than the bigger companies but I am very pleased with his work. Our first electric bill came in after having the windows for a full month and I am already very pleased. I don't think energy costs are going down any time soon so it was a good investment for us. We live in a similar climate: mild winters but hot humid summers, so it has saved us a lot in AC bills.
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#15 of 19 Old 07-20-2009, 11:33 PM
 
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We replaced all of the windows in our old house, and most of the windows in this new house. (We're waiting to do a few in the kitchen and baths we're remodeling.... eventually )

I LOVE them. Our old ones were terrible- almost impossible to open/close, dirty, ugly. So I think it was an expense that was worth it. Plus the new windows are a dream to clean.

I don't know if it made a difference in utliity bills, because we replaced them right after moving in. I don't recall how much it was, but we used a mom and pop shop both times. We got Certainteed brand (recommended by consumer reports) and have been VERY happy.

We didn't mess around with wood, though- we wanted white trim anyway in both houses, so just got 100% vinyl. That may have kept our costs down.

DH is VERY handy around the house and we did a ton of remodeling / repairs (esp at our old house) and he wanted nothing to do with replacing windows. He thought it would be tough to get them plumbed, shimmed, and leveled accurately, and trim would be tough, too. He's pretty fearless, but installing his own windows? Nope.

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#16 of 19 Old 07-21-2009, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you SO much to everyone for sharing your experiences! This has been tremendously helpful in making our decision. We have seriously struggled with this for 4 years now!

We had another bid last night with a locally-owned company. The owner came out on very short notice and the product was mich nicer than the last bid for vinyl replacements. We learned a TON from him about exactly how things would look when they were in and what would be different. Our windows are so thin and shallow that I was worried I would be totally shocked by the new look. I feel much better now. My other fear was that the color would be "off" since we didn't want white (our house is white limestone - it would look terrible), but there are a million shades of tan out there. As it turns out, Simonton has a "driftwood" color that looks totally amazing with the mortar color of our stone. SO thrilled with it.

So we are going with the Simonton 5500 window with all the options we need for Central Texas weather. $17,300 is the final amount. I think the results will be so great - and I am so glad to hear what you all had to say (positive and negative).

Thanks again!

Laura
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#17 of 19 Old 07-21-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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My DH is a building envelope professional, though he is in the north east and deals with houses here. He said that most of the time replacing windows is not the best way to spend your money. You get a much bigger bang for you buck by looking at proper insulation and air sealing and so forth. That being said single pane aluminum windows are the worst type of window ever made. Though when I said you were in central TX he said that that is different. It's not like you are in the north. He said if you were local and asking him he would recommend having some tests done like a blower door and see just how bad the windows are. He would also want to know what your goal is for the house. There are cheaper options outside of replacing the windows like putting on insulated shades or storm windows. But not being familiar with your house and environment he cannot say one way or another.
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#18 of 19 Old 07-22-2009, 12:44 AM
 
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Could you qualify for a low interest loan with your local power company? That's how my dad got his window redone in his 70-ish year old house. New doors, windows and energy efficient heating was done. It was at a very low interest rate and was done by a qualified company. Could be something worth looking into. We thought about it, but our house is 100 years old and my DH is a super anal jack of all trades, he didn't want someone else doing the work. So we buy a window at a time from Home Depot or our local window guy and we go from there.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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#19 of 19 Old 07-22-2009, 12:54 AM
 
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Congrats, OP!! You're going to love them once they get in!!!

Sleepy mama to Colin Theodore 8-12-08 and Trevor Arthur 7-17-12.

 

 

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