What Questions Should I Ask my Window Installer?

What Questions Should I Ask my Window Installer?

After educating yourself about all the different kinds of windows and making the financial commitment to replacing your windows, it’s agonizing to have the whole project ruined by a bad installation job.  Your new energy-saving windows are crooked, they’re letting in hot air and you just know there’s going to be a puddle on the floor the first time it rains.  That’s the last time you let your neighbor’s cousin’s kid do any home improvement just to save a buck.  Window installation is a complex operation.  A sloppy or unqualified installer can cost you a lot of money, time and frustration.  

Many window companies have a crew of professional installers who contract with the company to do window replacements.  There are a lot of advantages to this.

Communication is already established between the window seller and the installer, so you will get an accurate price for the installation and there will be no confusion about what specific products will be installed and where they’ll go.  If there is a problem, a reputable company will ensure that it is corrected and you won’t have to worry about tracking down an installer who disappeared with your money. Brennan Enterprises window installation pro Willy Peters shares some knowledge from his years of experience and gives us some insight on what to ask a prospective installer to ensure that you’re going to get the perfect results from your window investment.

1. How Long Have You Been Replacing Windows?

Experienced window installation technicians can make all the difference in the end result of your window replacement project.  Their knowledge about installing windows in a variety of situations, especially special circumstances like a very large or high window, will ensure that they won’t take shortcuts just to get the job done. To get the full value from your new windows, they need to be straight and level, airtight and function smoothly.  One of the most common problems Willy and his crew see when replacing windows is poorly sealed windows that let air or water through, ruining energy efficiency and causing a mess.  The other common issue is windows that are out of square, so they can’t be opened all the way and gaps are created around the edges. Thorough training and experience with proper techniques and quality control will avoid these common pitfalls.

2. How Are You Going to Remove My Windows?

There are two common methods for replacing a window.  You can remove the entire window - glass, sash, frame, trim, and everything, or you can do a partial replacement, leaving the old frame, just removing the sash and installing an insert window.  The difference between these two options can make a big difference in the overall cost and time requirement for your job.  Also, it’s much harder to remove certain types of windows, such as steel casement, so having an experienced crew will really work to your advantage.

One other item to note about removing windows:  If you’re doing window replacement as part of a remodeling project, it’s sometimes impossible to take out the windows without damaging the surrounding paint or sheetrock.  If you’re planning to paint or wallpaper at the same time, Willy advises that you schedule that for after the window replacement. This also applies if you’re planning to install shutters.

3. How Long Will This Take?

Time is a valuable commodity and your window installation shouldn’t waste yours. The window company should be able to give you a firm estimate of how long the entire job will take and how long each window will take.  Willy says a reasonable expectation for his two-man crew is eight to ten windows per day.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the details to make sure they’re accounting for prep and clean up time.  If they can’t or won’t tell you that, think twice - don’t get stuck with an installer who plans to finish the job and be gone, leaving you with a mess to clean up.  They should also be able to give you a definite start time so you know when to expect the window crew to arrive.

4: How Do You Prepare/Keep My House Clean?

Your project should beautify your home, not leave a trail of chaos behind. Find out if your window install crew will move furniture out of the way.  If you have a particularly large or heavy item, like a grand piano, make sure to ask about it in advance so moving arrangements can be made if necessary. Willy suggests that you move fragile items away from the work area to keep them safe. Find out whose responsibility it is to remove blinds or curtains.  Knowing these things in advance of the installation can save a lot of time and aggravation.  

Window replacement can be a messy process; dirt, dust, old paint, and scraps of material can end up everywhere if proper prep work is not done.  The crew should put down drop cloths under the work area and shut off ceiling fans to prevent blowing the dust around.  Willy and his crew take the extra time to move or cover nearby furniture to keep the workspace neat, but it’s reasonable to expect to have to vacuum after the job is done.

5. Do You Need to Pull a Permit for my Window Replacement Job?

Permit requirements vary city-to-city.  Some cities require them, others don’t; it is entirely dependent upon which city or municipality the property is located. Your window company should be responsible for the permit, but permits are ultimately the responsibility of the property owner, so be sure and ask your window company so you know it’s done.  Expect the city to do an inspection of the project to make sure it meets their standards.  If you have questions about your city’s policy, check with the Inspections Department or look at the Code of Ordinances.

New windows can give your house a whole new look and feel and improve the view from the inside.  They can save you money on energy bills and increase the security of your home.  When you’re ready to make the investment, reduce the anxiety of the process by doing your homework and knowing what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be persistent.  Select your windows and installer with care and reap the rewards of your effort with years of enjoyment from your new windows.


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