The short answer is yes. Most contractor organizations recognize that they too make a saving on a larger project, and many will pass some of that along to customers in the way of financial incentive in the form of a discount. Why? Because the acquisition of any client incurs a certain cost. Whether you engage them for a ten thousand dollar project or a twenty thousand dollar one, the ‘cost of acquisition’ is not twice in the latter case. It might be slightly more – homeowners tend to get more bids when the expenditure is larger – but only slightly. In fact, contractors incur a certain cost whether you hire them or not. The gas in the truck, time spent visiting you, preparing a quote, following up, etc., is all done regardless of whether you actually give them the business. If you get quotes from three vendors, each will spend the time, the gas, etc., and only one will get the business. When you stay with the one you selected to get your windows replaced, and then add the door replacement job to the deal, they are likely to recognize that as a savings for them, too. You don’t have to do all of it at once, either. You might decide to, for example, replace the windows this month, and plan for the door replacement in the spring. But you may agree on a discounted price before even the first project begins.
Choosing the right window and door replacement provider
It’s not always the best idea to simply go for the lowest bidder. Yes, this often happens when people want to ‘sex up’ a house or condo before selling it – and that is always a risk to new home buyers, that they have bought a house with the cheapest renovations possible – but there are certain key indicators I will always look for in choosing the optimal vendor.
What experience do they have?
It seems obvious to have this on my list, but many people still get dazzled by the sales person who visits their house. They talk up a good storm, use all the right words, but their window installers have little experience. In the Puget Sound over the past couple of years, because of the mushrooming demand, many new window, roof, flooring and other installation companies have sprung up and are hungry for business. You can become licensed to install windows and doors without having much experience of it. Perhaps you the homeowner get a great low price for the new windows being installed, but what if the installers are using your home as one of their first, in order to get experience? Yes, vendors have to start somewhere, but an installation team needs at least 50% of its people to have significant experience. Ask about how many projects the installation team has worked on, and try to get a sense of what kind of windows they’ve already installed. It takes several years to master the skill, so the team should have hundreds of window installations under their belt.
Do they have references?
Most companies today have references of previous customers. You can check those references on their website, usually, but third party sources like Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Houss and Angie’s List are generally more reliable because they are managed by (mostly) independent organizations.
What manufacturers do they use?
Each window and door installation company uses its own preferred source of product. Everlast Window and Door, for example, uses Milgard, Cascade and now a few more manufacturers’ products. If you look at the product manual for any one of these companies, it looks like a two-inch thick telephone directory. The varieties of window options seems endless, and it takes experience to winnow out the list to something you are going to like.
Can they show you some physical product, and explain the differences?
Window products today are enormously more sophisticated compared to what was available a generation ago. Like phones, cars, computers and TVs, manufacturing technology has taken huge strides in what it is now possible to produce. What decades of automation have given us is cheaper and more products. If you can dream it, there’s a factory willing to make it for you. Windows are now multi-functional products, and the physical cost of them has gradually lowered over time. Today, a window can have security electronics built right into to. They can have astounding heat insulation properties, provide excellent sound and privacy properties, and at the same time, look great.
Many window and door installation companies will have an office where you can get an up close look at several of their most popular items. They will be able to show you cut-aways, and explain how the different layers within the window frame contribute to each of the respective advantages a window offers.
Did you know that ‘new car smell’ is actually the smell of vinyl? Well, now you know! Today, the best window frames are made with a version of vinyl that is easier to work with than aluminum is, offers superior insulation, and is a lighter product. That means it’s easier to install. Even if you’ve never known it, most new apartment complexes, for example, install vinyl frame windows. They’re usually a better product than their metal brethren, and yet, offer superior qualities.
It is worth it to visit their showroom if they have one. Ask about the optional extras like the new hybrid of wood look on the outside (for beauty) and vinyl on the inside (for strength and insulation).
Regional expertise – does your windows installer have it?
Installing windows in a hot dry city like, for example Phoenix Arizona, is a different challenge to that of installing in Seattle. In most of Arizona, the parching mid summer sun might melt the vinyl window frame of one built for milder climates like Seattle. There are unique challenges in each weather system, and some of that has to do with how the window is installed. For example, one type of glue might be perfectly OK to use in a Seattle home, but might become brittle over time in the strong heat of Arizona. Triple glazing can be an excellent help to keeping the pressure off your air-conditioning in Phoenix, but might be overkill for a home is Seattle, especially if the windows face north and never receive much direct sunlight.
Experience of installing windows and doors in the Puget Sound is something to ask about. Every region has its own challenges.