Tom Shafer

Is a $190-window installation for real?

August 08, 2013

Can a replacement window, installed, really cost only $190? Of course it can. But there could be a significant difference between the scope of installation services you can expect from the $190 bargain window installer and that of a replacement window dealer who charges a more traditional price for the same windows with installation. How can you spot the difference before you buy?

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Initially, both types of dealers will probably contact you from a lead they've received that you're interested in window replacement. Both will typically want to set up an in-home demonstration of their windows. Next, a salesperson will set an appointment to call on you at home when all of the decision-makers are present -- a good salesperson does not want to waste time coming to your home and giving a presentation if there is no chance they can close the sale. Either salesperson would want a signed contract after the hour or two it takes to do a proper window sales presentation. Again, you cannot necessarily tell the difference between the two companies because the salesperson is doing what salespeople are supposed to do. So how and when can you tell the difference between the bargain installation company and the conventional window contractor?

Replacement window installation differences are in the details

The time to spot the difference is before you sign the contract. Most replacement window contracts are presented with a full explanation of each service performed during the installation process. Read it carefully. The scope of work should list everything:

  • removing window coverings
  • moving any furniture in the way
  • covering flooring with drop cloths
  • replacing/painting trim where necessary
  • replacing second story windows
  • covering any exposed exterior wood with metal
  • replacing deteriorated wood with vinyl mill work
  • caulking any open gaps
  • covering plants
  • cleaning away debris
  • washing the new windows
  • disposing of the old windows/sash

This is where service from the two companies are likely to diverge. The $190-window agreement may not include many or even any of these services. You should expect the windows to be installed properly, of course, but that may be all. You may have to pay extra for moving furniture, extra for using a second story ladder, extra for caulking, extra for old window disposal, etc.

If you agree to pay for these items, the cost of the $190 window company could quickly total as much as the all-inclusive cost the conventional replacement window dealer quoted you in the first place.

If you don't mind moving your own furniture, taking down and putting back window treatments, caulking, and hauling your old windows to the dump, the $190-bargain may actually be a savings for you. But if you want or need more complete installation services, the all-inclusive window replacement is probably what you're after.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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