The secret to avoiding markups for replacement windows

July 15, 2011

Big manufacturers of replacement windows sell their products strictly through distribution channels. It's impossible to avoid some kind of mark up, because consumers cannot purchase windows wholesale from these distributors or directly from the manufacturers.

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However, as a consumer you can avoid additional high markups further down the distribution channel by comparing quotes from contractors.

Using a contractor: the change-up

Hire an independent building contractor with a good reputation for quality window replacements. Where they can save you money is on the installation. Independent contractors have a wide variety of business models, but if you are paying more than a ballpark 20-percent markup for materials, then you might want to shop around for other contractors.

Some contractors will also charge a general contractor fee to cover operating expenses and apply additional markup to ensure a profit margin.

Understanding those contractor fees

If a contractor's pricing is not clear, make sure you ask for clarification before signing anything. A professional building contractor's quote should be more than just time and materials. If they are making money, it will ensure that they are in business for the long-term and can honor any guarantees or warranties they issue. If, on the other hand they are just charging time and materials, chances are they have not been in business very long and probably won't be in business much longer.

The bottom line is that the smallest bottom line is always the best. Beware of window replacement markups, but don't sacrifice quality installation for small savings, because that could wind up ruining your initial investment in new windows and costing you more money.

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