The Cost of Replacing Windows

By Matt Blank

Like a majority of things around the house, replacing your windows is probably a good idea; and it can be major investment in money and time. Let’s review some different factors that can affect the price of your window replacement.

1. Type & Efficiency of Windows: The first and biggest determinant of the cost to replace your home’s windows is the frame material your windows are made from. A good remodeler will help guide a prospective client in selecting the best window choice for their budget. Vinyl? Wood? Fiberglass? Aluminum? Each of these has pros, cons, and a different price tag.

Vinyl Pros: / Cons: Least expensive; good insulation; minimal maintenance / Susceptible to expanding and contracting during temperature variations.

Wood Pros: / Cons: May match historically with home and its design / Needs regular maintenance; affected by moisture changes.

Fiberglass Pros: / Cons: No changes with temperature or moisture; little maintenance / Expensive option.

Aluminum Pros: / Cons: No changes with temperature or moisture; good soundproofing / Highly conductive of heat and cold, lowering energy efficiency.

Generally speaking, the more efficient a window is, the more it will cost.

Other considerations are the brand name, Low E coatings (thin covering increasing ability to reflect instead of absorb heat) and spacers (multiple sheets of glass that help improve the insulation).

2. Material: Separate from the frame materials, the aluminum or other material used to seal or wrap the casings around the windows, plus any trim you desire, will be needed. Also, shims to level out the unit are necessary along with the standard hardware.

3. Labor: Preparing the jobsite, removal and installation (which requires work on the inside and outside), disposal of old windows, repair of the opening in the wall if needed and clean up should all be accounted for in a contractor’s proposal. Permits and inspections could also be required by the township.

To help evaluate whether a remodeling project will increase the value of your home, Remodeling Magazine puts out the annual Cost Vs. Value Report that gives average project costs and the home value someone can anticipate recouping in relation to that initial cost.

Interestingly, the 2014 Cost Vs. Value indicates a window replacement project in the Lancaster, PA area will recoup around 53% of the total investment. This came in well below the national average of 79%.

The energy cost savings are also an important consideration, but they can be small or HUGE – depending on the current state of your windows, insulation, appliances plus environmental factors such as how much direct sun your home takes on a daily basis.

YES – Replacing your windows is a good investment. NO – you won’t see a 100% return without more time in your home, if ever.

Either way: they will improve the curb appeal on a home nearing its time on the market, right?

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