How much should a good window cost, installed?
February 24, 2013 in Other
i know this is a very difficult question, because there are so many variables - but for an inexperienced homeowner, it is just a bit scary to pull the trigger and know i am getting my money's worth.

i moved into my home about 3 years ago, and the windows and master bathroom were big areas that needed attention. we attacked the bathroom first, and did a it of a remodel, and i was very happy with the results.

the windows (and now perhaps siding) are proving to be a much bigger project - so here's my question: i want good windows, and i know some things about values and ratings, but what should i be looking to spend? i think i have 24 windows total in the home - mostly double-hung...

i am not handy, so i would need the price per window to include full installation - and i think my job requires new construction for each window, as opposed to just replacement windows. though, perhaps you could educate me about which would be better in my situation.

ok, thanks! i'd appreciate ANY advice!
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Ironwood Builders
Well...that's a deep subject. Good windows are an investment. So let's talk quality then price.... I favor certain manufacturers because of quality. Marvin, Loewen, Pella are the top three. I need to look into Fensterman, a German company...but need a willing guinea pig. My house has Marvin... I recommend an exterior cladding of pre-finished aluminum and a wood interior. Marvin will do almost anything I ask...for a price. So if you want a Wineberry exterior with a walnut on. The size can be ordered to exactly fit the existing openings. Ergo, replacing means no rough opening framing changes. Interior and exterior trim will change....unless you use a Tilt-Pac. A replacement double hung sash kit that hangs in your existing trim change. Pella offers this option as well, but doesn't do EXACT sizes. Tilt-Pacs are a definite cost savings over tearing out the entire window.

The actual window cost is dependent on a lot of NorCal we have higher labor burden and higher wages than other areas of the country. Taking out a double hung sash and installing a Tilt-Pac should take about three man/hours on average. This includes the shifting of materials and tools, site protection and clean up. My crew bills out at $50 per hour. An average size Tilt-Pac, say 32wX48h, will be around $375. The larger the window the higher the costs. No cost benefit to smaller windows. Fixed windows or transoms, doors and sidelights don't work this way. Supervision and general conditions adds 10%, Add profit and overhead to the project...20% is a fair average. So for your house full of Tilt-Pacs...somewhere around $12 - $14K. Double that if sizes need to be bigger than the existing. Painting is not in this budget.

So none of that is real...because I am not in your area, not looking at your windows and not getting the specifications down for what you want. But it gives you a starting point?

Go to the local Marvin window supplier and have their salesman come out to measure the windows and discuss options (look on line at options first!). Talk to a local contractor, they are listed here on Houzz in the "find local pros" area. Pick three, get them in for a meet and greet. Get their labor rates and P&O percentage. Make sure they work with and have accounts at the window supplier. Do what feels right in selecting the one for the job. If none feel right...keep looking. Get a fixed price bid including the windows. Yes, you will pay more, but maybe less than 10%...and you have the peace of mind knowing that if anything fails in the first year, the contractor is responsible. Marvin's warranty runs longer....but they won't pay for labor if it is the contractor's fault. They are, however, really confident they won't have to pay for anything. I've had one warranty issue in 25 years of installs.
February 24, 2013 at 7:12PM     
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do you know anything about Okna? i've done some reading online, and have read positive things - but don't know exactly how much to trust the faceless internet (although, i found your post very helpful and informative!)...

the other product we are discussing is Starmark - which is also by Okna... any idea about that? (if my memory is correct, i think this is a PA company, so in CA you may not really have an interaction with them, perhaps?)
February 25, 2013 at 5:07AM   
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Ironwood Builders
There are lots of window manufacturers. I have the three I have had the most success with over the last 25 years. I've probably installed 20 different manufacturers windows. I keep coming back to Marvin.
February 25, 2013 at 6:26AM   
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Although I'm on the east coast, I've become a big fan of Ironwood Builders due to the candid and detailed advice I've seen from him countless times in Houzz - thanks VERY much for your contributions! So now I have a follow up question to this thread: we're replacing windows and I've been talking to an installer that deals with OKNA. His method of installation involves adding a 3" backer wood 'trim' around/behind the window frame, and capping it with aluminum...far different than what we have now (which are builder's grade windows installed 17 years ago when the house was built). The front of our house gets hit with a lot of weather - direct sun and when rainy, rain simply pounds it. Is this capping approach a best practice with respect to keeping the weather out? It sounds similar to your description of 'cladding', but am unsure. Also is it important for the window frame to have insulation? That's an option but I'm not certain of its importance. I grew up in an ancient house where you could feel the breeze next to a closed window, so my standards may be lower than most. Thanks in advance!
May 7, 2013 at 9:07AM   
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Ironwood Builders
jawideas, Clad windows are fully wrapped on the exterior with pre-finished aluminum and come that way from the manufacturer. I don't quite understand the 3" backing trim and cap your installer is using, so I'll back up to what we do and hope we can clarify from there. For a full replacement window, we remove the old window and all interior and exterior trim. The rough opening, that is, the 2x framing the creates the opening in the wall of the house, is then flashed. We use a combination of products starting with a self adhesive bituminous "tape" that fully covers the 2X framing and wraps out onto the existing vapor barrier (we mostly use Grace Vycor) starting at the bottom and work our way up, overlapping as if we are doing shingles.. We use a plastic flashing corner (also from Grace) to make waterproofing that area easy. We then set our window and caulk the fins to our Vycor flashing, Then the sides and top of the window are covered with another layer of Vycor. Then the exterior trim is installed and and caulked up to the siding (we use a GSM "Z" flash at the head trim). We use expanding foam spray insulation (Great Stuff) to fill the void between the window and the rough opening. Then interior trim and paint. The flashing detail below, from Grace, is similar to the manufacturer required flashing details for Marvin, Pella, Jeld-Wen, and others. Not following the flashing requirements of the manufacturer voids the warranty. It is important that the fin is put directly against the vapor barrier or house wrap. It doesn't sound like this is what your installer is doing.
May 7, 2013 at 11:41AM     
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