Monday, July 05, 2010
Working with experts makes window shopping easier
By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer
Remodeling can be an overwhelming process. There are just so many options.
Take windows for example: There are hundreds of shapes, sizes, styles, colors and features to choose from.
Windows can vary so dramatically that one window can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,500, says Cody Crosby, remodeling and renovation window sales representative for Pella Windows in Salt Lake City.
"You have the basic, most affordable vinyl window to the most expensive wood window and all the options in between, with different features that dictate the price," he said.
Windows and doors usually make up a substantial percentage of the remodeling budget, which is reasonable, since they have a correspondingly large impact on the project design.
The right windows can change how a room feels and functions, not to mention the impact they have on the exterior of the home. New windows and doors can do wonders for curb appeal, giving homeowners one of the largest returns on their investment.
Windows are meant to last for decades, so you will be living with your selection for many years. Therefore, the decisions on windows and doors should not be made lightly.
Though you may begin your search online, visiting a local showroom will help in the decision-making process. There, you will be able to sift through your options with a knowledgeable representative who will walk you through the process of selecting, ordering and installing the proper windows.
Also, seeing the actual windows and being able to touch and operate them will help you in making your final selection.
Crosby says there are a few things you can do to make your experience with a professional window company more effective.
He suggests three items to have ready: drawings from your architect (which should include final floor plans, exterior elevations showing a suggested window style and a window schedule laying out each new window that must be purchased), photographs showcasing your design style and a window budget.
"If you have these things when you come into the showroom, you will be miles ahead," he says. "We will be able to understand your particular needs and show you the products that best meet your budget."
Call the showroom to make an appointment. This will allow the sales representative to allocate sufficient time to meet with you. Crosby says to plan for a minimum of an hour in the showroom to discuss your project and go over product options.
Where you are in the planning process and how prepared you are when you visit the showroom will affect the experience you have there.
At the very least, you will leave the showroom with a better sense of what is available and what the range of cost is for each level of window. Once you have decided on the product line you wish to use, along with what options you would like, exact pricing for your particular project can be calculated by your window representative.
The company can even give you multiple bids for different products (vinyl vs. wood, for instance) if the cost is a large factor in your selection process.
Replacing windows in a remodel is a much different process than installing windows in new construction. In new construction, a lot of the work is done at the front end, but in remodeling, no matter how much you try to plan, things can change as you go along.
"You never know what is going to happen when you really start renovation on an existing house," Crosby says. "In remodeling, all the subcontractors — including the window contractor — have to be flexible. You have to have someone who understands that walls may change, window openings may move. You don't want to order a window that isn't going to fit."
Understanding this concept, windows have to be ordered prior to the time when the contractor will be ready for them. The "lead time" should be one of the factors you consider when selecting your window company.
Also, make sure the manufacturer can accommodate change orders and build a specialty window in a timely manner if needed.
"You don't want the lead time to hold up the project," Crosby says.
Having experienced many renovation projects, Crosby recommends the team approach for the entire project.
"A homeowner needs to select an architect and a builder as a team," Crosby says. "Your architect recommends certain builders for a reason. And your contractor recommends his subcontractors for a reason. It is not because they are their buddies. They use these people because they trust them. Use the recommended people. When they all work together as a team, there is less disconnect, less tension, and the project flows better."
While remodeling is an overwhelming endeavor, working with the professionals will make it easier — even when it comes to choosing windows. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.