An Expert’s View Through Homeowners’ Windows
When Edmonton residents consider replacing or adding new windows to their home, they often struggle with finding the best place to start. Matan Korin, project manager at Ecoline Windows offers his expert advice on finding the right window company to help homeowners save time, avoid frustration and stay within budget. Ecoline Windows opened in 2001, and here, they provide insight into the window replacement process.
What challenges do you think homeowners go through while planning their window replacement and selecting the right type of windows?
Most homeowners simply don’t possess the knowledge at the beginning stages of their replacement. There is a lot of information on the Internet, but it often requires some time to do the research. Some common concerns homeowners have (and should have) when it comes to their window replacement are:
- Figuring out which windows they need. This may include window style and colour, its energy rating and functional properties. Homeowners are often not aware that new windows can help their home by improving airflow, efficiency, or simply reducing bad UV rays. Even something as simple as changing a window that doesn’t open into an operable one can have an impact on the well-being of your home.
- Of course, a major part of the window is glass. In double and triple pane windows glass panes are put together into sealed units. There are a lot of choices when it comes to customizing glass options for your windows. There are different styles of privacy glass for bathrooms, Low-E glass (reflects the sun rays away from the house and keeps your home comfortable, and stops the heat from escaping your home) improving energy performance.
- If you live beside a noisy street, you might consider getting soundproof glass which also acts as security glass. It all depends on what you need out of the window in that room.
- Price is always a big factor when it comes to a window replacement. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners try to cut corners and go the cheapest route. While an only-glass replacement may be a good solution for the next few years, a quality window replacement will last you at least twenty-five.
- Homeowners don’t always realize that a window replacement can be done in stages. There is a good chance that not all your windows require replacement at once. A good window company can help you assess the state of the windows and suggest which ones need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Replacing windows in stages is also less straining on your wallet, and window companies will be more willing to offer you a discount as a returning customer.
- Finishes around the window require a lot of thought too. How will the windows fit with the exterior finish of the home? Stucco homes, for example, may require touch ups, as stucco is very brittle and breaks easily. Windows may also require drywall to be cut. Who will be responsible for painting and any finishing work around the window? These things are very important to think about before signing the window contract.
- Another big concern is how blinds and shutters will fit with the new windows. Ideally, you should get blinds after your replacement, but many people want to use their existing blinds. Because your new windows may be smaller, the blinds may not fit or have to be cut.
- A lot of homeowners like to get windows with grills. Grills can improve the home’s curb appeal but do reduce the window’s energy efficiency. They look especially good with oversize or shaped windows, as well as casement, awning, and picture windows. We don’t recommend getting grills on slider windows because they have an exterior screen, and the grill does not look as appealing as on a window without a screen.
Why do you recommend vinyl windows?
For the price, they offer the best energy performance and are virtually maintenance-free.
What planning approach do you recommend for your customers? Where to start?
There are plenty of good resources online that offer useful information on window replacement and window replacement companies.
Natural Resources Canada has a good site dedicated to homeowner window knowledge and ENERGY STAR rated window companies in Canada.
Our website also has quite a lot of useful information and answers to common questions on our blog.
And of course, don’t forget the human research you can do. Chances are, someone in your circle of friends has had a window replacement in the last few years. Whether their experience was good or bad they can offer a lot of insight on a company and what went well with their replacement. Pick a few trustworthy companies and check their BBB ratings, see what people say about them on websites like Homestars for reviews, ENERGY STAR website to check if the product they carry is Energy Star rated, and check if the products they carry are certified by CSA (Canadian Standards Association).
If you are in Alberta, check if the company has a Pre-paid Contracting License. In order to be able to collect a down payment on a project, companies in the province must be registered and bonded by Service Alberta. You can find if the company is on the list through the website.
What are some of the most frustrating aspects of the business?
- Because many homeowners don’t have the knowledge, it is easy for bad companies to misinform and scam people. A full-frame window replacement (where all the old window components are removed down to the stud and replaced with new ones) can cost up to 20% more than an insert installation (in an insert installation the old window components are not removed, so the old wood, which is sometimes rotten, is left). Many companies will advertise a full-frame replacement but end up putting in insert windows without addressing the issues in the framing and structure around the window.
- Window quality is another big one. Because it’s difficult to identify how a window will perform just by looking at it, a lot of the information ends up being on paper. Many window companies will often pass off inferior windows as quality products when in reality it doesn’t even match the required energy rating for that city or province. Companies will often avoid explaining egress and fire-code window size requirements for bedrooms and simply install windows that do not meet fire code size.
In summary, before undertaking a window replacement or new installation project on your own or by hiring a professional, make sure you understand what it entails. By learning as much as you can about the products and processes and how to find reputable suppliers and contractors, you’ll be able to make the best decisions to reach your personal home improvement goals.