You don’t really think about replacing your windows unless it’s time to get them changed. Some reasons for getting a window replaced is leaking, poor ventilation, insufficient sunlight, or change in design preference.
Window replacement is a big project yet also seems like a simple process - choose a replacement window type and hire a professional to install one for you. But as mentioned above, windows aren’t something you replace often. So if you’re going to install something that would last for decades, you need to ensure that you have a reliable window replacement contractor who could do it for you.
It is a significant investment that will take up time, effort, and money. The entire process can be overwhelming since you have different types of replacement windows to choose from as well as looking for the right professional among the dozens in the market.
To help you out, here are the questions you will need to ask before hiring a window replacement contractor. This way, you’ll find the right professional who will make sure that you’ll have your money’s worth and a window to enjoy for the next decade or so.
How long have you been in business?
If someone’s going to work on an aspect of your home that would last for a long time, you want them to be experienced. Ask how long they have been replacing windows. It’s usually better if they’ve been doing it longer, at least more than three years.
Their experience will also have some influence on the price. It’s not surprising if experienced contractors will be more expensive, but their knowledge and experience can vouch for quality work.
But do note that their years in the business is not the only basis of a good company. So whether they’ve been in the industry for a decade or a year, ALWAYS check for reputation or references. If you don’t have family, friends, or neighbors who can refer a window replacement contractor, then take a look at their reviews. You can check their social media pages, website, Google reviews, and more.
After learning more about their experience, you should also check their past projects to see if their work is what you’re looking for. Some companies have a dedicated page on their website for their completed projects. If they don’t you can always ask to see some photos.
What does my estimate include?
Aside from installing the replacement window and other labor costs, you should ask for a breakdown of what’s included in the estimate. An itemized estimate will help you see the projected expenses for every aspect of your project as well as find out what’s included. This should cover materials, parts, and other services such as disposal of old windows, finishing, and cleanup. A trusted and reliable contractor would be able to easily give you a breakdown, which will help prevent miscommunication and headaches and allow your project to go more smoothly.
Ask them if they will dispose of your old windows. You don’t want to have a beautiful new window system and then find that the old ones are still in the room or cluttered your home. Most contractors would include removal and disposal of windows with their window installation, and it’s important to ask whether this is included or comes with an additional fee.
You should also ask if they can work on the finishes of your interior and exterior trim. Not everyone offers finishing services, while others offer interior and exterior finishing or painting as an add-on. Most of the time, these services will be added to the itemized estimate. If they aren’t there, then you can clarify with your contractor.
Always ask about their packages, add-ons, and inclusions so you’ll know whether you need to source a new professional for these services. If they can do the job, then that would be great since it would probably be done quicker and less expensive. If they don’t offer these services, ask for recommendations on who would be able to do it for you.
Don’t forget to ask if getting an estimate or consultation comes with a fee. This way, you’ll be aware if asking for a quote is an extra cost to keep in mind for your budget. If you want to get free quotes for contractors in your area, you can check out HomeAdvisor.
Will my project have additional or hidden fees?
Finding out that there are additional fees is normal yet a nightmare. Sometimes, there could be problems with the site area such as mold, rot, and other issues that need to be fixed before they can replace the window.
After taking a look at your window opening, the contractor should already have an idea if there are any problems that need to be taken care of. Some contractors offer repairs with their packages, but it’s better to ask so you’ll have an idea whether it’s an add-on or included. It also saves you and your contractor the headache when the time to pay comes.
What window type do you recommend?
From double-hung to bow windows, there are so many different types of replacement windows that you can choose from. If you don’t know which one to get or not sure if it would work well for your home, you can always ask your contractor if they have any type or even brand that they can suggest.
It would be great to get recommendations from these professionals since they have experience and spent years or more dealing with windows. They’ll know which type would suit your home based on your preferences or needs such as proper ventilation, sunlight exposure, aesthetic appeal, and more. These experts would also be able to advise you which brands would last long and which ones you shouldn’t even consider.
But if you’ve decided to choose on your own or want to learn more before discussing with your contractor, I’ve written about some of the most common replacement window types and their costs.
Do you have a product and workmanship warranty?
Even if your new window system was well-installed, some things may still go wrong with it after some weeks or months. It would be great if the contractor or the window manufacturer has a product warranty for it, just in case some issues arise such as drafting or minor damages.
Aside from the window itself, you should ask if they have a workmanship warranty. Some contractors offer warranties for their installation if ever there are workmanship errors. These usually last one year or even longer, which is not as important as the fact that they’re offering it. It doesn’t have to be for a long time since offering this means they will stand by their work. Besides, any issues with the new window systems will appear if there are any.
For both warranties, make sure to get the details in writing so you’ll be on the same page on what issues are covered under warranty. They should also provide you their contact information for when these problems arise. Giving their contact details will also prove that they stand by their work and have nothing to be afraid of. Be careful where you store their info so that you can easily retrieve it if the time (hopefully, it doesn’t) comes.
How long will the project take?
Depending on the range and complexity of the project, replacing a window or more of your home will affect your daily schedule. The contractor would have to close off and work on some areas of your home, which will disrupt your lifestyle.
To make it easier for you and your contractor, find out how long the installation will take, from ordering the windows to completing the installation, even if it’s an estimate. This way, you can adjust your schedule or they can find a way to accommodate it. Ask whether you or anyone in your family needs to be at home when they’re working on your project so you can adjust your schedules accordingly.
If you also deal with seasonal changes, you will need to know if you’ll have a working window before summer or winter hits. You wouldn’t want to have ventilation issues during humid or cool months.
What are the possible situations or factors that can delay my project?
As mentioned above, there could be problems with window openings that can incur additional fees. Aside from extra costs, these could also extend the project deadline yet be accounted for. On the other hand, there are unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather which can delay the ongoing project.
Ask your contractor about the possible factors they know of or situations they have experienced that may prolong the project timeline. While you’re at it, you may want to discuss how they will deal with it.
It would be best if your contractor is willing to clarify and update you on the status and different aspects of your project. This means that they know what they’re doing and are properly communicating to ensure that you are on the same page.
Who will work on my installation?
Other project details you need to clarify is the person or people working on your installation. Some companies have crews while others use subcontractors. Ask them which one they use.
I recommend going for those who have an in-house team since they’ll be more consistent with their work. Not just consistent, but it would also be top-notch quality because these employees will take more time and have standards to adhere to. Companies who also have their own crew are less likely to cancel or reschedule, providing better customer service.
How will you protect my home’s interior and exterior areas affected by the worksite?
Replacing a window is a project that would improve your home. But to complete the project, other areas of your home will be affected. The crew would have to bring tools, replacement windows, and other equipment. Sometimes, removing the existing window would scatter debris both inside and outside your home.
Before they work on-site, ask if they have any plans on protecting your home. Trusted and reliable contractors will take measures to protect both the interior and exterior of your home while working. They would even make sure to clean up properly and leave no stray material behind after finishing the project.
When and how should I pay?
Another important detail to clarify is the terms of payment. First, you need to ask if there will require a deposit. Find out what percentage of the overall estimate will you be expected to pay up-front. Next, ask whether you will be paying the rest of or the entire sum in installments or after the completion of the project.
It’s best if you're already on the same page regarding the payment terms even before the project starts. This way, you can prevent miscommunication and won’t have trouble with this later on.
Are you licensed and insured?
You have to find out if your contractor is licensed by your city and/or state. Note that some states don’t require contractors to be licensed, but they will have a certificate or have passed an examination for their specialty. It’s best to check with your city’s licensing authority if they require professional licensing.
Aside from the license and other credentials, it is also important to ask if your contractor carries insurance. As mentioned above, accidents may happen, so it wouldn’t hurt to ask if they have liability insurance as well as workers’ compensation and property damage insurance.
It’s always better to get licensed and insured contractors so you can get some protection if ever there are any problems with the project, workmanship, property, and more.
If you want to get quotes from licensed and insured contractors in your area, I recommend HomeAdvisor. All professionals in this platform need to be licensed and insured to be able to join. Since they’re also paying for the opportunity to earn your business, then they’ll be eager to earn it as well.
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