Knowing how to choose a window installer will ensure the job is done properly, and your windows will perform as they should.
This guide gives tips for hiring a window installation company that knows what it is doing.
The information is useful whether you are buying the windows and hiring just for installation or you want a window company to supply and install them.
Tips for Hiring a Window Installer
Not all companies that advertise window installation among their “specialties” can be trusted to do the job right the first time.
These tips will help you choose a window installer with the right combination of skill, experience, knowledge and the other ingredients for successful window installation.
Skip the Upstarts
There are plenty of window installers around, so only consider that have been in business at least five years. A track record of that length, at minimum, shows the company hasn’t worked itself out of business through poor-quality installation that gave it a horrible reputation and/or drove it into bankruptcy.
This economy is strong and interest rates for home equity loans are low. Those realities have produced a booming home renovation market, including window replacement. There is money to be made for installers, and many without skill and experience are getting into the business. The inevitable result is that some homeowners get ripped off with shoddy window installation.
Bottom line: Only consider hiring established professionals.
Hire the Crew – Not Just the Company
This tip is related. The high demand for window replacement is creating upstarts, as noted. It is also causing established companies to hire more installers to meet the demand. Some of those hires do not have skill or experience. You don’t want them installing your windows, whether you’re paying $250 per window for affordable Jeld-Wen vinyl or $1,000-plus for premium Andersen wood.
It doesn’t matter if the company owner has 50 years’ experience and can perfectly install windows in his sleep. What about the new guy on the crew? What are his skills and experience?
Bottom line: When you interview window installation companies, ask about the experience of the people that will install your windows. If they’re rookies, a bad job is likely. Some of the results of poor installation include:
- Frames that warp or crack in a few years
- Broken seals that allow fogging from moisture
- Air gaps around window openings that allow in moisture and insects
- Drafty windows that allow heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer
Beware of Lowball Estimates
This is really the third verse of the song we’ve been singing.
How do upstarts get jobs? With lowball offers. How do companies with terrible reputations get jobs? Through providing the cheapest estimates.
Bottom line: As PT Barnum famously said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Don’t be a sucker for low prices!
Contact Them – Ignore Advertising to You
We’re all inundated with advertisements for window installation. Radio, TV, mailers and more. It’s big business, so advertising budgets are big too.
Ignore the hype, 2-for1 offers and promises of “deep discounts.” Those are often just ways to confuse the issue.
The truth is, the window installers will provide estimates that are just as competitive if you approach them. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact any company that markets to you, just don’t let their marketing efforts sway your decision making. That’s exactly what marketing is designed to do, whether the company deserves your business or not.
Bottom line: Contact the companies you think will do a good job. Tell them you’re getting competitive estimates, and they’ll sharpen their pencils to give you their best prices.
Check Their Ratings
It’s easy to find window installers in your area. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Or do a simple search: “Window installers in my area,” for example. See what companies come up.
Put together a short list, and then do your due diligence. The internet makes it really easy. Sites to check, in order of importance, are:
Now, here are two FAQs:
What if they don’t have any ratings?
Then they haven’t been around long enough to get them. Pass on that window installer. Look at those with 20+ ratings. If you live in a rural area and there aren’t many with 20+ ratings, then go by the rule that the more good reviews the company has, the better your prospects of getting the work done correctly.
What if they have bad ratings?
If their overall rating is below a 4 out of 5, then move on to the next option.
If they have a good overall rating but a few nasty reviews, that’s par for the course. Window installers, like any other contractor, can’t satisfy everyone all the time. Some folks can’t be pleased.
Bottom line: A lot of reviews with an overall good rating means a window installer has a proven track record of quality work. Feel free to ask the companies about the bad reviews and what they did to remedy any legitimate problems.
Make Sure They are Licensed and Insured (and Bonded is Good too!)
A license demonstrates basic competence and also compliance with local building codes.
Being insured means that if one of their crew members falls off a ladder and breaks a leg and goes on disability, you (probably) won’t get sued. That’s worker’s compensation insurance. It means that if they drop and destroy a $1,800 bay window assembly, their insurance will cover the replacement cost. That’s liability insurance. Both are important.
Being bonded means that if they go out of business half-way through the job, the cost of hiring a new contractor to finish the work will be covered. It means that if they are responsible for buying the windows, but fail to pay for them, you won’t have to. It means that if they do a terrible job (a scenario you can avoid with these tips, right?) and you have to hire a company to fix the issues, the cost will be covered.
Those are just a few of many examples of the benefits of hiring a licensed, insured and bonded window installation contractor.
Make Sure They’ve Installed Your Windows Before
Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. While installation is generally the same for all window brands, the best work will be done by an installer with excellent experience putting in the brand and series of windows you’re buying.
Bottom line: Experience installing your brand can mean the difference between average and superior installation. The best installation ensures your windows will perform beautifully for the longest period of time.
It’s OK if They Do Other Work
We’re not talking about companies that do nothing but sell and install windows and doors. Those companies should be considered.
We’re talking about home remodeling companies that do windows, siding, roofing, decks, etc.
Bottom line: Regardless of whether they are a specialist or exterior remodeling generalist, make sure they check off the boxes mentioned: Good history. Experienced crew. License and insured. Good reviews. Knowledge and experience with your window brand and series.
Final Word: Start Early or Try This
It takes time to find a quality window installer. Give yourself a month or more to sort through the local window installers to find one with the qualities we’ve discussed.
Another good option is to use the “Get Window Estimates” form on this page. It reduces the time it takes to find a quality window installer.
You will receive written estimates from pre-screened window installers in your area. They are licensed and insured for your protection, and they know they are competing for the work. There is no obligation for using the free service.
We still recommend that you check out their online reviews, but this is a good way to jumpstart your search for a window that will do a great job for you.