Window Installations: DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
Replacing old windows not only improves the look of your home, it improves energy costs. It’s estimated that up to 20% of heat exits through windows, so investing in a new model can help save you money. Remodeling your windows can also add value to the home. Remodeling Magazine estimates that new windows have a cost versus value between 74% – 79%, depending upon the type of window. New windows can be costly, but installing them incorrectly can also cost you in energy savings.
By doing thorough research and speaking with professionals, you’ll be prepared and more secure in your decision to move forward on your own, hire a pro, or some combination of those approaches. Having done this research you’ll feel more comfortable in your final decision. Let’s look at the pros and cons of installing windows yourself versus hiring a professional.
Window Installation and Repair: What is Involved
Your own window project may vary, but typically homeowners are looking to upgrade their windows, change the style, or invest in an energy savings window. Typical tasks for this type of project may include:
new windows: glass, frame
tools and materials
new sizing of window opening: may involve making the opening larger, new drywall and paint
Some homeowners may just need to replace a window pane, or they may wish to insert vintage windows to match the architecture of their home. Whatever your project entails, be sure you plan out all the steps of the process and determine who will be the best person to complete the task.
Window Projects to DIY
Be honest with your skill set and your time. If you simply need to swap out a window on the first floor, this may be perfect weekend project and an opportunity to learn a new skill. However, if you have multiple windows to replace, and some are located on upper floors, hiring a professional will be your best bet. There are plenty of places to purchase windows off-the-shelf, particularly if you don’t have specific styles or colors in mind. Keep in mind that a professional generally receives better pricing than retail, so you may not save costs in purchasing directly. In general, anytime you have a project in which the professional needs to be licensed or certified, it’s a good idea to consider hiring a pro.
Splitting the Difference: Pros and Cons
DIY isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition when it comes to window installation or repair. One of the best ways to handle it is to split the difference with your contractor. Get the hard stuff done by a professional window installer to start the tough part of the project, and then finish the rest of the work that’s a bit easier left yourself.
This kind of approach should be done with at least the consultation of a pro. Fifteen minutes on the phone with a window installer might give you all the information you need to make a decision on this. A good professional will also let you know a few tips for the part of the window installation you want to tackle yourself. Be warned, however, that many window installation professionals refuse to split tasks with their clients, or at least won’t guarantee their work with any kind of warranty if you are helping it along.
Also, if one of the tasks you want to do yourself is purchase the materials, this isn’t likely to save you much money over working with a window installer. Contractors have access to a broader range of materials at wholesale prices. Also, your windows pro will be able to educate you on the products and solutions available in a way that addresses the specific needs of your project.
Hiring a Professional Window Installer
Get several quotes from licensed professionals and have them give you an on-site estimate. A trained expert will not only recommend various types of new windows to suit your budget and style, they can quickly assess your current window openings to see if any repairs need to be done. In particular, the window opening building codes for bedrooms has changed. A professional will know the correct egress size and can resize the opening for you. Ensuring a proper fitting and seal, and knowing the proper safety installation procedures, is best left to a professional.
Weighing your decision should involve real numbers: estimates from contractors, common time frames for the kind of project you’re thinking of, and real prices from suppliers. Have the window pros break down for you what will have to take place to do your window project and don’t be afraid to ask if it is something that can be attempted by yourself. If you are not satisfied with their answer, call for another estimate from another window professional and compare notes with what you were told by the first one.
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