“I told my Dad how much my home replacement windows were going to cost, and he almost had a heart attack!” Renee is a first time homeowner, having purchased a small two story starter home a little over a year ago. “He told me I could go to Home Depot and pick up windows that were just as good for half the price.” Her next question is one that is shared by many homeowners: “Is that true?”
Well, there’s no arguing that top window manufacturers such as Marvin, Pella, and Champion do offer replacement windows to be sold through home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s. Renee’s dad was right on that point.
It’s the next line that’s a little more problematical. Are the discounted windows and doors sold in home improvement stores just as good as those offered by authorized window dealers?
The short answer is no. One primary reason is customization. When you go to the home improvement store to select windows, you have a limited range of sizes to choose from. This is fine, if the window you’re replacing is the same size as the replacement window sizes available.
However, each house is unique. They don’t all have identical windows. There can be subtle and important variations between windows that look the same — variations that can make it difficult for one size fits all windows to be properly installed.
By contrast, an authorized window dealer will individually measure each and every one of your existing windows. Those measurements, which take into account odd sizes, size variations, and other individual factors, will be transmitted to the manufacturer, who creates exactly the right size window you need to fit your home. That’s a degree of customization you just can’t get off the shelf.
Additionally, there is a substantial quality difference between the windows available in home improvement stores and those that one gets from an authorized replacement window dealer. Home replacement windows from an authorized window dealer tend to feature stronger construction, with higher attention to detail and craftsmanship than those shipped to home improvement stores.
Importantly, the onus of discovering any faults in workmanship shifts to the consumer in the home improvement store. If there’s a fault in the seal or a problem in the construction, an authorized window dealer will detect it, or the installation crew will. When you’re blindly picking windows off a shelf, you’ve got only your own eyes on your side — and chances are you don’t know what to look for.
Finally, installation can be problematically. Large home improvement stores subcontract all of their installation duties to local contractors — and have absolutely no problem walking away from the relationship should their subcontractors do a less than stellar job installing your replacement windows.
On the other hand, replacement window dealers know that their reputation rises and falls based on the performance of their home replacement windows. Proper installation is integral to performance, and hence authorized replacement window dealers make sure to have well trained professionals handling their installation.
Is there a price difference between the two options? Absolutely. But this is one time when the old adage proves true: you really get what you pay for.