Sluggish economy reduces window installation costs

August 01, 2011

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 2009 and 2010 saw record lows in new housing construction, with roughly half the housing starts of nearly every year since the late 1970s. What's more, forecasts show that in 2011, new home starts are expected to remain well below 600,000, a stark contrast to the nearly 1.3 million starts in 1980, 1.2 million starts in 1990, and 1.6 million starts in 2000. And the NAHB predicts that the figure may not begin its upswing until after 2012.

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While the housing forecast continues to look gloomy, it comes as no surprise to anyone who has paid even minimal attention to the economic news of the past few years. However, there are a few surprises which have resulted from the challenging economy, including the following:

Surprise #1: Lower window installation cost

Window installation cost has dropped steadily as contractors everywhere try to remain competitively priced to retain their share of work. While the loss of construction industry jobs may come as a shock, it does make sense that fewer new homes means fewer windows to install and therefore a reduced demand for installers.

"Everyone seems to be offering a deal on installation, and that's great," says Cory Evans, sales manager for windows and doors at Golden State Lumber in Newark, California. "But it's a red flag to me if someone is offering to install your windows completely for free." Evans recommends asking for credentials and references when hiring an installer, no matter what.

Surprise #2: Higher window prices

From the price of gas used for delivery trucks to the price of windows themselves, it can come as a surprise just how quickly everything spiked when demand is still relatively low--at least, in comparison to the average over the last 10 years.

To ease a bit of the pain, Evans suggests finding comparable products at lower prices. "It is possible to find a high quality window at 20 percent less, just by not having a name brand on the package." Evans suggests Jeld-Wen, Integrity and Milgard as high quality, affordable alternatives to the bigger names.

Surprise #3: You may qualify for cash back

Under section 25C of the federal tax code, if you have made qualified energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home, you may be eligible for a 10-percent tax credit.

The improvements must be "placed in service" between January 1, and December 31, 2011, and the maximum credit is $500 per taxpayer.

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