PART 1: BUILDER GRADE WINDOWS
THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN WHAT HOMEOWNERS WANT AND WHAT BUILDERS OFFER
This the first of a three part series discussing builder grade windows. Some parts have been updated from the original posting first published in September 2013.
THE REAL COSTS OF BUILDER GRADE WINDOWS
Residential building and remodeling never really slowed down much in Central Texas during the economic slow down. And, by some accounts, it’s red-hot right now. As a manufacturer of windows, we know our company is small when compared to the national giants who pump-out thousands of builder windows every day, shipping them throughout America. At Ringer Windows, we never kid ourselves when it comes to competing for the ultra low-end cheap builder-grade window market. We couldn’t hang with these guys even if we wanted to!
In the nearly 14 years we’ve been making really great windows, we’ve had thousands of calls and contacts with Builders and Remodelers. We want their window business! Some builders who’ve called us, are large, as in national! We’ve also reached out to building supply companies and chains, most of them with statewide capabilities. We haven’t overlooked the small guys either, with over 500 letters and phone calls to local Central Texas remodeling companies. What I’m getting at is that we’ve either called or been contacted by a LOT of building professionals about builder windows!
Communicating with Building Professionals
Recently, I asked my staff to summarize these building professionals communications, such as:
What was discussed
What was sold
How to follow up
Here’s the real eye-opener about our discussions with builders, remodelers, and building supply companies. No one, including myself, can remember any discussions or questions about quality or operational efficiency of our windows. Very few professionals even asked if our windows would pass the City of Austin’s energy code!
Can you guess what the single biggest request about our windows, from builders, remodelers, and building supply companies is?
“How much do they cost?”
This probably doesn’t surprise anyone. The building trades and remodeling industry in Texas is all about getting the job done for as little as possible and as fast as possible, treating quality as an afterthought to the detriment of the homeowner.
If no one complains about poor quality AND if they don’t ask for other options, it’s good enough to pass the bar-of-acceptability!
I received a call from a VP of Construction with a large local builder who lamented to me that some of their higher-end homes that used taller-than-average windows were “causing problems”. This particular builder is using a very cheap vinyl builder grade windows. When they paired several windows into a single opening, this caused a very unstable structure and their clients were rightfully complaining. There are many reasons why these types of windows didn’t work well but it essentially came down to a quality issue. When I explained why better windows use reinforcements and thick glass windows to better stabilize this type of window platform, he asked, “Does it cost more?”. The conversation abruptly ended after I replied
“Yes, Good Quality Windows Cost More”
The irony of it all is that the real price cost difference between a cheaply made builder grade windows and a simple high-quality “no frills” window like Ringer Windows makes with our Performa 3300, is about $60 a window. An average size home contains 15 windows so it might cost the builder $900 more to install super-efficient high quality windows in the average home. Well-built windows rarely fail or have issues and are much more efficient than their cheaper builder grade counterparts. Over time, seal failures are practically zero and the homeowners will enjoy from the beginning of owning their new home much lower utility costs with windows that continue to work well and provide great energy efficiency for many decades.
When we visit with most folks, they are completely fed-up with their terribly inefficient windows that are foggy and leaky, with some that don’t even open properly. Many of these folks tell us that they would have preferred if their builder had the option to upgrade their windows when they had their home built (as they did with flooring, lighting, and plumbing fixtures).
Unlike the calls we take from Builders, Remodelers, and Supply Outlets asking about price, most initial calls from homeowners about replacement windows are almost never about price. Most intelligent homeowners ask about energy efficient windows or how well our windows slide up and down or vinyl window maintenance. Many ask about our warranty and longevity as well. We might not even discuss price with a homeowner until the 2nd or 3rd meeting.
You’d think that the Building Trades would “get it” about using, or at least offering, high quality windows with their projects and new homes. A majority of people would buy the window upgrade if they had a chance.
Ditch Builder Grade Windows
Homeowners building a new home would upgrade windows if they know they will last decades longer than the standard Builder Grade window
It’s far less expensive to install quality windows on the front-end than pay us to install replacement windows after the fact… So, if you’re a prospective homeowner and you’re building your home, demand control over the windows that go into your home. We promise, you’ll be happy you did!
I recommend to anyone experiencing any concerns about builder grade windows to give us a call at Ringer Windows at 512-989-7000.