Category: House Windows

How to Choose the Right Window Contractor

How to Choose the Right Window Contractor

Comparing prices and looking at estimates is certainly not a good way to choose the right window installer in Chicago. To do this, you need to be patient and dedicate some time for researching online to learn more about the best such professionals in your area, their prices and other details that can help you take a great decision.

Keep in mind that a contractor worth hiring is someone that takes pride in his work and so should the salesperson that represents him or the company that he works for.

When talking to a salesperson, he need to:

  1. Know a lot about the types and number of projects the contractor completed.
  2. He should also show enthusiasm and pride when discussing other jobs.

Top 7 Questions You Should Ask Any Window Contractor Prior To Hiring Him

  1. Seven questions you should a window installer before hiring himWhat’s the company’s address and full name?

If you want to learn more about how long a company has been in business, then getting its name is the first step to achieve that. If you get a PO Box, make sure you also get the street address, too. It’s always better to go with a contractor that has an office in your area, since you’ll get better services and faster response times.

  1. What’s your workmanship warranty?

In general, contractor workmanship warranties are going to be for 1 year or even more sometimes. Keep in mind that even if you get a longer warranty, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be better in any way. Also, make sure that you get customer referrals and then call and ask a few people the following questions:

  1. Did the contractor perform his work in a timely manner?
  2. When asked for changes and info, was he responsive?
  3. Did you feel he acted in your best interest?
  4. Can you call the contractor trustworthy?

It’s very important that the contractor you plan on working with does indeed warrant his workmanship. However, keep in mind that it’s the manufacturer who is going to warranty the windows against manufacturing defects. As a result, there are going to be 2 types of warranties that protect your windows.

In general, issues regarding material or workmanship are going to show very fast. In this case, the near-term warranty that the manufacturer or contractor provides you with is a lot more important than other types of coverage. The good news is that even if you will experience issues after the warranty on the workmanship has passed, if the contractor is reliable then he is going to stand behind his work.

  1. How many years have you been in business?

The longer a contractor has been in business for, the better. If he’s been in business for less than 3 years though, then you may want to think twice before hiring him. But hey, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s bad at what he does. To double check any business, be sure to get as many references as possible. This way, you’ll have the peace of mind you’ve made the right decision when you’re finally going to decide on hiring one.

  1. Is the company insured?

Window contractor insuranceAny contractor worth hiring for your project should have workers’ compensation insurance and comprehensive liability insurance. How can you verify if the one you want to hire has both? Well, just ask for his certificates of insurance and inform him that you’d like these to be sent to you prior to the project’s inception.

If a contractor does carry insurance though, you need to keep in mind that their prices are also going to be a bit higher than what you can expect to get from others. Never hire a contractor that doesn’t carry insurance since if something goes wrong, then you’re going to be the one footing the bill, not to mention that you can also get in other types of trouble.

In general, there are quite a few reasons why some contractors don’t want to carry full insurance, including:

  1. They don’t stand behind their work.
  2. They cannot afford insurance premiums.
  3. They are new in the business.
  4. They operate as a self employed or partnership with no employees.
  5. They’re not a full time contractor.
  6. Are you going to provide references or referrals from past jobs?

It’s very important that you request for photographs of past projects the company has completed. If the contractors doesn’t have photographs, then you should consider requesting a list of ten names and phone numbers from recent clients over the past year. You don’t really need to call all of them though, but you do have the advantage of randomly picking the ones you want.

  1. Is the company a credentialed or licensed contractor?

This question asks whether the contractor you plan on hiring is licensed by your city or state. Keep in mind that licensing is not required in every state, but if the state you live in requires the contractor to have a license, then make sure he has one. Some cities also require that contractors have professional licensing. For more details on this, it’s recommended that you check with the local licensing authority.

It’s not uncommon to hear a few contractors you’ll talk to answer this questions by telling you they have a business license. Don’t be fooled by this though, since a business license is basically a tax requirement and it says nothing about the contractor’s competence.

There are many window manufacturers out there for instance that offer a wide range of programs to professional contractors which helps them establish them as an authority in their field. As a homeowner, you can view the credentials of contractors as a great indicator of their dedication, professionalism and knowledge to the construction trade.

  1. What’s your track record for dealing with client complaints?

Last but not least, it’s very important that you learn more about the way your contractor handles issues when they arise. In this regard, it’s best that you get a referral from a job that had one or more complaints. Ask if:

  1. The contractor’s license has ever been suspended and the reason behind that.
  2. The contractor lost one or more jobs due to court cases.

You should also learn more about whether the contractor had complaints filed against him by checking the BBB. If they did had disputes field against them, inquire about how they dealt with them to get a better idea of the contractor’s reputation.

Picks and Tips for House Replacement Windows

frosted window

Frost covered window

It’s really not rocket science to assess when your house windows require some repairs or replacement. Frost is present on the interior layer of the glass during the cold season, water damage can be clearly noticed and you can also see the drafts blowing the curtains.

While all these things are very apparent, what’s more difficult to ascertain is the type of windows you should get and the proper installation method to consider for installing them.

In general, you’ll find that there are 3 types of replacement options you can use, including complete unit replacement, frame and sash, or just sash replacement. As expected, there are positive as well as negative aspects of each of those methods.

Window sash replacement

Window sash replacement

Sash Replacement

If the opening is still true and square, the windows has no signs of water damage and its frame is also in good standing, then sash replacement is a solid choice to consider. This method basically involves removing parting stops and old sashes in order to install new jamb liners.

Since the majority of replacement sashes are going to be compression fit into the liners, installing them is going to be a breeze. If you want to improve energy efficiency without breaking the bank, then this is probably one of the best methods you should consider.

On the other hand, performance is not going to be as great as it’s the case with the other 2 options. On top of that, the look may make the sash and frame look bulky.

Sash and Frame Replacement

This type of replacement is a good choice if air leaks through the frame and sash, if the windowsill shows signs of damage or moisture and if everything else is still in great shape. Usually, one unit will be fit into existing jambs and against the external or internal stops.

After that, it’s going to be either nailed or screwed into the jambs. While out of the 3 options available this is the priciest, there are still a lot of homeowners who get them since it helps them save a lot of money in labor cost. On top of that, compared to a simple sash replacement, this particular option can dramatically minimize the daylight opening.

Full Window Unit Replacement

As you can already imagine, this means that you’ll need to get a new window with new insulation, caulking, sealants and of course, flashing and it’s the best option to consider if your openings or windows are severely damaged or compromised.

Entire window unit replacement

Entire window unit replacement

Since it requires removing old trim and casings, this project is responsible for causing major disturbances to external and internal finishes and siding. Whilst it’s obviously a very invasive method, it does offer the best performance compared to all other options.

If you’re currently looking for the right windows for your house, it’s recommended that you consider these essential areas:

  1. Tilt sashes for easier maintenance and cleaning.
  2. Easy to use and smooth sashes.
  3. Locate the weep system and make sure it’s going to drain moisture outside the specific siding system where it’s going to be applied.
  4. All mechanisms and hardware are properly attached and rugged.
  5. Installation aids like jamb liners and adjustable screws to fine tune the squareness of the frame.
  6. Caulking should play mostly aesthetic role and flashing be responsible for proper water shading.
  7. A rugged frame with many chambers for proper thermal resistance and support, but also reinforced corners (completely welded on vinyl units).

Accessories such as snap in screens or grilles and between the glass blinds need to be very durable. On top of that, it’s recommended that you get the best possible windows your budget allows you to get, regardless if this means you’re going to have to do an entire house replacement in 2 or 3 stages instead of all at the same time.

Framing Options

There are a few options you can consider when it comes to framing, such as:

Aluminum clad:

The most maintenance free of all materials. Aluminum exteriors can be painted in any color, while the wood exteriors can be stained to the color of your existing decor. However, for those living in coastal areas, aluminum clad window may not be the best choice due to salt saturated air.

Wood:

A great choice for those who appreciate classic approach, yet it’s a bit pricier than vinyl. Can take any color or stain, it’s available in many species and requires good maintenance.

Fiberglass/composite:

It’s a lot pricier than vinyl or wood, but has great durability. Faux wood grains are available, it can be painted in any color you want and requires no maintenance.

Vinyl:

The main positive attributes of a vinyl window are that it’s maintenance free and very affordable. It’s generally available in light colors. Although you may be able to order dark colors from some manufacturers, we do not recommended do to deformation issues when exposed to sunlight for extensive periods of time.

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