With the Texas economy being so hot for so long, there’s a lot of folks building their own homes these days. We talk to a lot of folks every week, including homeowners and custom builders, who seek quotes for new windows. As the folks in South Texas begin to rebuild, demand for windows should only stiffen.
Between Hurricane Harvey and our hot Texas Economy, it seemed appropriate that I mention a few words about residential windows for those who are building or re-building since we’re in the thick of things……
In my humble opinion, there are several very important building components that often get “overlooked” when folks build, or re-build, their homes. They are Windows, Exterior Doors, Roofing Materials, Attic Ventilation, and HVAC Systems. As a Window Designer, Manufacturer, and Installation Expert, I will mostly talk about windows!
Several dynamics happen when folks “think about” these “overlooked” things. First, they are generally thought of as “too technical” so many homeowners let the contractors or builders choose for them. Second, people tend to devote their attentions to the cosmetic components like flooring, paint colors, plumbing fixtures, and lighting.
I understand why people spend more time on the fun things like flooring, plumbing, and lighting fixtures…… Windows, HVAC Systems, Ventilation/Insulation, Doors, and Roofing simply aren’t as fun to think about as these things.
When choosing windows, most people simply pick a color and leave the rest to a builder, if they do anything with windows at all. The same goes with HVAC Systems, and roofing. People may pick a shingle color or instruct their builders to get an efficient A/C unit, but that’s usually as far as it goes. With ventilation, insulation, and doors, people rarely ask anything.
Here’s why all of this matters……. If you leave anything up to most builders or remodelers, they will ALWAYS gravitate towards the least expensive building-grade component that meet minimal building code requirements. You MUST assume that builders and remodelers work on the premise that they will ALWAYS try to maximize their profit margins in EVERY situation. It’s just the way the system works……
Here’s a typical new-build windows scenario. Most mid-sized homes have 15 to 20 windows. The cost upgrade to install an upgraded window (in lieu of a builder grade windows) would run between $1,200 to $1,800 total. The truth is, builder grade windows are destined to suffer seal failure and/or exhibit operational issues within 6 to 10 years. The components used in builder grade windows are NOT long-term oriented. Seals will fail and windows will become foggy, balance systems will break and/or windows will not open properly or stay-up, and trims will become brittle and overall, parts begin to fail.
Most important to note….. Builder grade windows NEVER include the most powerful and efficient glass products or technology, nor will they incorporate the most efficient frame designs, so over the long haul, your HVAC costs will be higher each month of ownership.
The actual cost to upgrade from builder grade windows to a mid-level quality window should cost you no more than $1,200 to $1,800 more initially. You can also expect to enjoy an overall reduction in your overall HVAC costs by $5,000 to $6,000 over 10 years. That’s NOTHING to sneeze at. Plus, better windows that maintain their seals should provide crystal clear views and work better for decades!
My last point about residential windows is really BIG! It costs 6 to 7 times as much to install replacement windows into a completed home than to install them at the onset during initial construction. I know this won’t help people who already own completed homes but for anyone who’s considering building their own home, please think about these often Forgotten things before they become an expensive Afterthought!
P.S. Much of the same arguments can be similarly made with respects to HVAC system, Entry Doors, Insulation, and Attic Ventilation.