3 window installation mistakes that cost homeowners

July 08, 2011

So you've finally decided to splurge on buying or replacing your home's windows and the order has been placed. Congratulations!

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Now, with all that hard-earned cash spent on the product alone, it can be tempting to try to save money and lower your window installation cost. However, since windows are such a prominent and important feature of your home, it is important to avoid the following mistakes to ensure your windows work properly and look great for years to come.

Mistake #1: buying more elaborate windows than you need

Vinyl windows are the least expensive and easiest to install of all window types. As a result, installation is usually straightforward and window installation cost is lower than other styles. "With vinyl, you can fudge things," says Cory Evans, sales manager at Golden State Lumber in Newark, California. "Adjustments can be made to outer openings, for example, and the window can usually be made to fit." In other words, the consequences of a less-than-perfect installation of a vinyl window are usually minimal.

Wood windows are more elaborate than vinyl and often have custom features and sizes. This makes them more difficult to install than the typically mass-produced vinyl styles, driving window installation cost up. The bottom line: If a vinyl window will fit your needs, skip the wood and save on installation.

Aluminum windows are the most costly to install because they are custom-made and require installation by a manufacturer-certified contractor. "Because there are so many details," Evans says, "leaks and damage will result if installation is off, even by just a little bit."

Mistake #2: accepting the lowest bid

Getting multiple bids from at least three contractors is essential to ensure you choose the best possible installer and avoid overspending. "I advise all my customers to take the middle bid," says Evans. "It's not necessary to take the highest, but there's a reason why the guy with the lowest bid is coming in at that rate."

In other words, if one contractor's bid is coming in far lower than the others, beware.

Mistake #3: not asking for your installer's credentials

There were more than 620,000 carpenters in the U.S. in May of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, not all of them are licensed or have solid reputations. However, with so many experienced professionals in the industry, there is no excuse for hiring someone who does not have a license to back up his or her work.

Asking for the installer's license and references will not only bring you peace of mind, but it may also save on window installation cost. Damages such as broken glass or improperly installed window frames can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, so do your homework to avoid these costly mistakes.


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