5 tips for minimizing window replacement cost

July 08, 2011

Window replacement is a great way to improve your home's energy-efficiency and comfort level. Attractive windows that work well are a definite home asset. If you know a few tricks of the trade and do some research, replacing your windows doesn't have to be a costly venture. Here are 5 ways to keep those costs down:

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1. Stay with the same-sized window

When it comes to window replacement costs, one of your biggest expenses is making structural changes to the home, says Jeff Lowinski, Vice President of Technical Services for the Window & Door Manufacturers Association in Washington DC. "If you change the size of the window--either smaller or larger--you must disturb the area surrounding the window on the inside and outside of the home, which can add substantially to the cost of the project, necessitating construction expenses and necessary building permits."

2. Consider standard-size windows

Standard-size windows tend to be less expensive than custom sizes, and some manufacturers charge a premium to make a custom-sized window, even an inch or two different, says Lowinski. It's a matter of the manufacturing process and how difficult it is to adjust the window design you desire. If your window opening is already a custom size, however, it may be less expensive to buy a custom-sized window than to retrofit the opening.

3. Do some of the work yourself

Performing tasks such as taking off the old trim, installing, and staining or painting new trim can save on costs. Never overstep your abilities, though, warns Lowinski. "If you can't do the work knowledgeably and safely, leave it to the experts, or it could cost you more in the long run to have an expert fix your mistakes."

4. Carefully choose your contractor

Finding a contractor who is knowledgeable in the window product he installs goes a long way toward keeping your replacement costs down. The more quickly and efficiently your windows are installed, the less you'll generally pay. "Check out the references your contractor gives you and make sure past clients are happy," says Lowinski. "Ask the contractor for a detailed set of instructions for how he intends to install your particular windows."

5. Ask about tax credits and rebates

A variety of energy efficiency tax credits and manufacturer rebates are available. Find out which window products qualify you to receive credits and rebates by asking your contractor, the manufacturer and your local building department and utility companies.

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