Window Installation Tips
Advice To Homeowners…
You are buying windows from us and arranging for an installation contractor separately. How do you avoid problems? Remember that there is no third party to arbitrate problems that you have, but being prepared for the project will save you grief. We have assembled some thoughts that we hope will help you:
- Are you paying for a Cadillac installation or an AMC Pacer installation? Just like you do not get Red Lobster quality at Taco Bell, if you take the lowest bid you will get the lowest quality. Have you gotten referrals? Have you called those references?
- Is there a signed contract? Do not let cost be the only agreement. Specifying method of installation in writing alone can prevent many eventual conflicts. Document dates, promises and amounts. A picture is truly worth a thousand words, even if you can look at them to see what kind of progress you’ve made over the years in your home. Remember that new windows, like any improvement to your home using an outside contractor, is a business transaction – treat it as such.
- Have you made notes on how the old window appeared, operated, fit? It is human nature to forget problems that we have learned to live with. New windows alone cannot solve out-of-plumb walls, out-of-square openings, non-existent flashing, etc. Generally, a replacement window contractor will not fix/correct underlying issues unless he is paid to do so.
- Will the contractor need your physical help to install heavy or awkward windows? Many contractors work alone, and to hold their prices down they assume you will help move a heavy, large window up into place. On the flip-side, some contractors will charge extra if they get too much “help.” The contractor has to stand somewhere outside the house – is that on a steeply sloped roof, a rose garden, overgrown bushes? Talk to the contractor about how they will access the work. Do you need to cut back bushes or move lawn furniture first?
- What method will be used to install new windows? This is a bad thing to assume. You need to educate yourself on this. Windows usually come with nail fins. These are always used in new construction. Our opinion is that they should be used whenever possible on replacements too. Sometimes the nail fin is removed, and the window is held in with screws through the jamb. This is acceptable if done properly. Talk to the contractor about this. Ensure that proper installation is performed, even if you personally don’t complete the work. Is the opening caulked? Was proper insulation/expanding foam used? Was primer paint applied before a final coat? Were nails/screws countersunk? Who cleans up?
- How will interior/exterior finishes (drywall, trim boards, paint, etc) be handled? These are very important questions that directly affect installation costs!
- Ask questions! Even a simple question like who is responsible for the disposal of trash and the old window(s) shouldn’t be overlooked.
- A poor installation may void warranties. Make sure the doors/windows operate and don’t forget items like handles or screens. Verify that the installation was completed per the manufacturer’s instructions and that the installer will warrant his/her work in the event of an issue. Most importantly, the door/window must be level at the base, shimmed properly and sufficiently fastened.
- Don’t pay until you are satisfied. Don’t loan money to the installer. As a general rule never exceed one third payment at time of contract, two-thirds when materials (windows) are on-site and the final payment AFTER the job is complete and you’re sure that the contractor’s bills to his suppliers have been satisfied. NEVER pay with cash.
Remember that construction is legendary for delays and problems. If a window is made incorrectly, it can take even more time waiting for a replacement. Wind, rain, and occasionally any required permits can also slow progress (understandably). We commonly see where owners have not allowed time for any delay in home improvements, needing that work done days/hours before weddings, holidays or home sales. Quite frankly, you’re asking for problems. Don’t tempt fate by planning on completing big projects before big events.
Replacing windows is like surgery, it affects you sometimes in unforeseen ways. Changing windows is not like changing light bulbs. Finally, wait until the contractor is done before you closely analyze his work – give him a chance to complete the job unless you notice something that is urgent. They may put the window in today to close your home up for the night, planning to fit it better tomorrow. If you have a concern, you should voice it. Remember, different homeowners have different expectations. Your contractor is not a mind reader!
Professional window installers sometimes have to fill gaps around windows to give a finished look. These areas could be filled with drywall, wood trims or unfortunately with wide beads of caulk.
One alternative is to use color-matching vinyl trim strips. These are made in Milgard White and Desert Tan. Installation is with silicone caulk on double sided tape. Front Range Lumber stocks a range of caulks, flashings, as well as these Milgard products:
- White and Desert Tan caulks 10.5 oz.
- Double sided tape, 3/8” x 150’
- ½” x ¾” L-trim x 12’
- 1” x 1” L-trim x 12’
- 7/8” x 1 ½” L-trim x 12’
- 1 ¾” x 14’ flat trim (for interior use)
- Screw plugs for retro installation
- 4”, 6”, 9” and 12” Vycor window flashing
City Of Denver - Landmark Homes
Within the City of Denver it is illegal to replace windows in a Landmark District or structure without a permit. As an installer or contractor of replacement windows, it is your legal responsibility to comply with all of Denver’s permit and review requirements. See http://www.denvergov.org/preservation or call 720-865-2929.