A cost of installing or repairing a window is rarely a simple thing to calculate, unless you’re looking at a standard window with no complicating factors. Even with a concrete idea of what you want, it can be difficult to pin down an exact price due to regional availability of labour and parts; areas where a particular installation is common will have that installation cost less than in areas where it is rare or unheard of. The same goes for repair of unfamiliar materials or installations.
With that in mind, here are just a few of the things which will shape the final price of any window construction project, whether you’re hiring professionals or trying to DIY an install or fix.
What affect prices?
Different window types can cost drastically different prices, even when all other factors look the same. Windows with complex moving parts, intricate or precise demands for panes or paneling, or require specialist work for the components or installation process will all cost more than your standard prebuilt storm window.
More complex window installations will require more specialized personnel to do right, which means more expensive labour. Even if you’re willing and able to go the route of learning how to install complex windows on your own, you should keep in mind the significant differences in time and effort you’ll be investing; it may not cost you more money to learn how to do it and do it, but it will certainly cost you more time.
The simplest multiplier on any window job is, of course, the size of the window. As the size of a window increases, you’re not only paying for more materials, you’re dealing with an increasingly complex task as well; the larger the window, the harder it becomes to produce panes which are safe for your installation. Being willing to work with varied styles which incorporate multiple smaller panes can save money in some cases, though homeowners who already intend to invest in high-strength glass may not find the cost of larger panes prohibitive in the same way.
Where you’re installing the window can make a significant difference in the expense and complexity of the installation, too. You may end up paying more for labor for installations in difficult or inaccessible locations, or for installations in hostile or unpleasant weather. To a lesser extent, this can include extra costs related to a remote home location or extra costs due to repairs or fresh installations on short notice during a busy season.
In a broader sense, you could consider regional style differences in window installation a factor of environment, too—one which may cost you, if you’re looking for something uncommon in your area of the country or world.
Material costs can have a big influence on window costs, as well. There are dozens of types and variations of glass alone; your typical low-quality float glass is going to cost far less than a comparable pane of energy-saving low-emission glass or any of the several types of reinforced security glass. You may also end up choosing to pay a premium for the materials of your frame, fixtures, etc. Wood, composites, and metals can all get pricy if you want something unique.
For window installations where a window doesn’t currently exist, or when changing the size, shape, or weight of the installation, you’ll also need to consider the basic engineering costs of the project. Taking a large section out of the wall of your home isn’t as simple as grabbing a saw and cutting an opening. This is an area where a bit of flexibility can save you an immense amount of money, as even small changes can drastically cut the expenses involved.
DIY vs. Hiring professionals
It’s common to look at a window and think of it as a simple DIY project, akin to replacing a door or shutters. Unfortunately, the reality of window repair or installation is rarely as simple as the idea of installation, for any number of reasons. Here are just a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing between DIY and a professional job.
Professional window contractors have access to consistent sources for the materials, parts, and other items needed for any number of window repair or installation projects. While this isn’t a problem with simple installations, it becomes increasingly important as your project moves further from standard, common window designs or materials. Effective sourcing can also control the price on higher end windows, making it worthwhile to work through a professional even if you’re willing and able to hunt down everything you would need from suppliers.
Window installations are very detail-oriented projects, which in turn make them a fairly difficult DIY project to get right. Small errors in window installation can lead to major insulation issues, trouble fitting panes or frames to the hole you’ve cut, aesthetic blemishes, etc. The risk of DIY introducing errors big and small only grows with the complexity of your project.
In a worst-case scenario of something going wrong, it’s also worth considering that with professionals, guarantees and warranties will cover fixing the issue, whereas you’ll be on the hook for replacing and repairing as needed should you go for DIY and mess up.
If your window ends up needing attention down the line due to accident, weather damage, or other problems, then it will benefit you to have a skilled professional team familiar with your installation at the ready. Repairing a window without unnecessary replacement can be more complicated than the initial installation—which makes a professional’s skillset all the more important.
For some projects, DIY is simply infeasible unless you want to make window installation your hobby and spend a few years learning the ins and outs of window design and installation. Complex or custom window installations will quickly exceed hobbyist skillsets and push you into a world of compromises, mistakes, and half-finished projects. If you want something you can’t pick up at a hardware store installed in your home, it quickly becomes a job best left to a specialist.
Even if you succeed in installing your window on your own, every minor error in the installation eats away at the lifespan of that window. You’ll need more frequent repairs and maintenance in response to the problems resulting from your error, which will necessitate either frequent professional attention or even more of your time. You may also find that non-professional installation of your window negates any guarantee of the window’s lifespan from the manufacturer, as it’s common for home installation products to put a condition of professional installation on any warrantee claims.
If a window fails halfway through its guaranteed lifespan, you’ll have a much easier time making a claim with the manufacturer if a professional team installed it. This can end up saving you a huge amount of money over time.
Building code compliance
Perhaps the strongest reason for choosing professional help when it comes to installing windows lay in the question of compliance. IF you don’t know buildings codes in your locality inside and out, it’s very easy to make a minor mistake that demands immediate repair if authorities notice it. And while compliance is always important, it becomes even more so in a property you intend to rent or sell down the line.
Even if you’re willing to read up on codes relevant to your property and project, it can be difficult to parse the exact meanings of certain provisions, which often leads homeowners to err on the side of less ambitious projects, where adherence to building codes will be easier and less fraught with the potential for mistakes. Professionals in your area, on the other hand, will know the building codes intimately, and will be able to meet your goals as best possible without compromising their legal obligations with the installation.
Factors in hiring a team
If you commit to hiring a professional team, don’t make the mistake of assuming all contractors are equally suitable; beyond the question of simple quality between one team and the next, there may be differences in the projects one contractor does well vs. another. Investigate these points when choosing a window contractor for installations or repair.
How experienced is the team with the type of work you’re hiring them for? Do they have references for similar jobs you can look at to get a sense of how well they handle that kind of work? General references only tell you half of what you need to know; look for specifics which relate to your project in particular.
A good contractor—any kind of contractor—should be easy to get ahold of, communicate clearly and politely, and keep to any schedule set. Unanswered calls during business hours are a bad sign, and showing up late for an estimate is even worse. You shouldn’t shrug off all the little telltale signs that a company doesn’t take its work seriously or put care into what it does for its clients.
There’s little to no reason for a company to offer insubstantial guarantees and warranties on its work, though the specifics sometimes vary across regions. At the very least, compare what different companies in your area are willing to promise in writing on their projects; weak guarantees usually indicate weak work.
You should always know what you’re paying for and how much you’re paying for it at any time during a project with a contractor. Any company which keeps expenses vague throughout the project and surprises you with unexpected charges is a poor company to work with on your window.
Getting the perfect window of your dreams installed—or simply repairing the ones you have—can be a daunting project, but you have a lot of options available. Take the time to figure out how what you want and what you can afford can compromise (or not), and you’ll be much happier with the completed project than you would be by settling entirely on something inadequate or too expensive.