Larsen Construction Industry Info

All windows and doors are not created equal

Whenever you buy a product for your home—furniture, refrigerator, TV, etc.—you have a choice among low, medium and high quality. Windows are no different.

Yet it might seem hard to justify spending a large amount on a high-end window, when you can buy one at a home improvement chain for less. Jim Larsen of Larsen Construction recommends visiting a showroom and seeing the difference for yourself.

“Chances are, you’ll see the difference. For example, some people try out a high-end Milgard window and they fall in love with the lock,” he says. “It’s arthritis approved—the first the time Arthritis Foundation has ever endorsed a locking system on a window. It seems like a small thing, but for some people it makes a huge difference.”

The same is true of doors, which can run anywhere from $100 at a home improvement chain to $5000 for a top-of-the-line model, says Mr. Larsen. While you certainly don’t want a product that will bust your budget, at the same time you shouldn’t blindly assume that high-end doors are overpriced, or that low-end ones are a good deal. Ask a salesperson to explain why the differences justify the price. Many people conclude that, over time, inferior products are no bargain because they don’t hold up well. Or perhaps you’ll end up feeling unsafe in your own home because you opted for an inferior exterior door. In which case you’ll almost certainly regret cutting corners.

When you’re pricing windows, also keep in mind that today’s new models will save you money on your fuel bills. Over time, they should pay for themselves—though your break-even point can vary widely, depending on the price you paid and the energy efficiency achieved.

Assume that the manufacturer’s warranty is the only one that’s binding, no matter what the sales representative tells you. The good news is that many top brands of windows offer a 20-year warranty on glass and a 10-year warranty on parts that are non-prorated and fully transferable should you sell your home—an additional bargaining tool for homeowners.