The industry is full of window companies that offer a great variety of products. The consultation appointment is the best opportunity for you, the customer, to get to know your potential window suppliers and narrow down some of the options you are interested in. Being well prepared to ask questions can make the difference between a windows and doors installation done smoothly or a project that has a lot of loose ends.
There are a lot of standard but very important questions that product consultants face on the regular. Some questions are strictly about the company like, “Is the company local?”; “Where is the window factory located?” and, “Do you have in-house installers?“.
Others are more concerned with the product and include questions like “We heard that triple glazed windows are better, is this true?”; “What is Low-E glass and how is it beneficial?” and, “Do argon windows really reduce heat loss?”
Another line of questioning is about the financial and administrative side of the upcoming project. Here the customer usually wants to know, “How much do windows cost?”; “Is there a tax credit?”; “Is financing available?”; “What is the warranty?” and, “How does the payment work?”.
All of these questions are very important in their own special way, however, more often than not homeowners miss the opportunity to become more informed about their upcoming project by not asking the following questions.
- Ask the product consultant to explain windows and doors operation
To get what you want, you need to fully understand what you are getting. Common sense thinking may suggest that no matter how you slice it, a window is a window. However, if you get down to the nitty-gritty, you will realize that a specific style of the window may be better suited for your home depending on the function that you want the window to perform. Examples of possible functions include safety, security, cleaning, ventilation, or climate control. For example, tilt and turn windows make the cleaning of windows an effortless task. Casement windows with their superior locking system provide greater security. If climate control is what you are after, many Canadian window manufacturers offer energy efficient windows and low e windows. You may also want to find out whether or not your window manufacturer carries energy star windows. In brief, Energy Star qualification means that you will be getting all weather windows that will provide you with energy cost savings and keep your home comfortable year round.
- Ask the product consultant to explain interior and exterior finishes for vinyl windows
Chances are that if you are considering windows replacement in your home, there is either already an existing interior and exterior décor or one that will be put in place at around the same time. Selecting the right finishes can be important both for maintaining the harmony of design and for getting the best performance. As mentioned earlier, the finish is usually determined by the style of installation, so it is very important to have a general idea of what is to come. A full-frame replacement generally comes with a vinyl brickmould to act both as an aesthetic border, as well as a weather barrier. Keeping that in mind, some companies will offer to finish a full frame installation with aluminum cladding – this incurs extra costs. This example goes to show that being informed can actually save you money!
- Ask the product consultant to explain egress windows (fire code)
Just like many other things in life, the overwhelming concern when replacing windows centers around looks. However, as mentioned above functionality is equally important and safety should always be number one on the list. While protection against break-ins is more of a security matter, making sure that occupants have an emergency exit available to them in case of an emergency is a safety issue. This is where egress windows come into play to make sure that your windows meet your province’s Fire Code standards. These standards are very similar across the country and require that every bedroom has an emergency exit. When replacing basement windows in the hopes of outfitting the space as a bedroom in the future, you would be well served to discuss it with the product consultant to make sure that the windows meet fire code. It would be truly unfortunate to spend money upgrading windows only to be told by your municipality that they do not meet egress requirements.
- Ask the product consultant about hidden fees
Hidden fees are one of the biggest fears for every homeowner when signing a contract. Knowing about hidden fees also means knowing about other potential issues with your property. For this reason, it is very important to ask whether or not hidden fees may be involved and for what services they may be applied for. As a general rule, hidden fees are only applied in extreme situations where the product consultant cannot determine the condition of the window without any doubt. These cases usually apply to bay and bow projects and require that rotted wooden members be replaced. For other windows, the replacement of the rotted wood is often included in the cost of the window installation and is considered to be part of the project. Other potential fees that you may want to ask about include the re-installation of blinds and shutters.
- Ask the product consultant about planning around other contractor’s services
The final thing on this list is arguably the most important to making sure that everything goes smoothly. Often times, when homeowners decide to replace their windows it is part of a greater one time fits all renovation that also includes a complete kitchen makeover, new siding, and a new roof. With the exception of the roof, the other two projects are greatly dependent on the installation of the windows. This is because windows (and doors) are part of the building envelope, meaning that they seal the indoors from the outdoors. The various projects like kitchen renovations and siding replacement are cosmetic in nature and should always be done after. However, even though the work itself should be done after the windows are put in, all the planning should be done together to make sure that there are no shortcomings in the end.
So as you can see, asking questions will make you an informed consumer who knows what he or she is getting and for how much. Asking the right questions has the ability to save you time, money, and a lot of gray hairs.