What should you know when shopping for new vinyl windows Saskatoon? If you are like most homeowners in Saskatoon and surrounding areas, you will be looking for the best quality windows and doors to be installed properly, at a competitive price.
There are important things to know before signing a contract with a replacement windows company. Homeowners tend to be cautious when it comes to signing new contracts, and rightfully so. It is often easy to overlook certain details or misinterpret exactly what you’re getting in the fine print.
Although specifics of the contract differ between window manufacturers in Canada, there are numerous golden rules to look for in any potential agreement between you and the windows and doors company. We’ll show you what they are to make sure you know exactly what you are getting with your energy efficient window replacement.
Because part of a supplier’s job is to come to your house to sell windows, they are also often in the business of installing them. Such type of work requires a “supply and install” contract. The advantage in this situation is that there is only one company accountable for your contract.
What to look for in a replacement window contract?
- The most important rule is often the most overlooked: always have the contract signed by both parties before any work on your house begins.
- A contract needs to have the date by which the job is to be completed.
- The contract should include the full cost of the work, and give a specific description of all the windows.
- The contract should list all the window and door products and their configuration that will be used during the installation.
But regardless of whether you’re getting a quote from a small or big company, a relatively experienced or fairly new one, there are certain things to consider for each consultation appointment regardless if you are shopping for a high quality windows, entry doors/ exterior doors in general, looking to change the structure of your home and build a new bay window or planning to do the renovation project in phases.
- All quote appointments should include a measurement. Even if you know the size of your windows, the product consultant should still whip out the measuring tape and go around to the windows you’re interested in replacing. There is no such thing as standard sizes when it comes to custom windows.
- Size isn’t the only determining factor in the final price of your vinyl window replacement. During the consultation, you should be able to discuss the type of installation that is most suitable for your home, any additional features (privacy glass, grills, casings), and any options or combinations of windows you envisioned. It is an integral part of good customer service to listen to your needs.
- A product consultant should bring with them some samples of windows you are interested in. A lot of companies are moving away from having physical showrooms, but as a benefit you have the opportunity to ask to see the windows you want. If you are looking for casement windows for example, specify that when making the appointment.
- If a company carries windows of different quality, ask to see all kinds. Even if you’re only looking for cheap options, a good product consultant should be able to explain the difference. In the end, the more you know the better prepared you will be to make a choice.
- On the same sentiment, do some research prior to your consultation appointment. Look into the company’s history, online reviews, their warranty information, and the products they carry.
Even if you’ve decided to leave it all to the pros, it is highly recommended to do a little research prior to your quote appointment. At the very least, you should have a few questions prepared in advance to ask from your consultant.
Check out some questions to ask at your consultation appointment. That way you’ll not only see what’s right for your project, but also how knowledgeable the window companies are, whether their services are right for your replacement and if you are happy with the services provided.
Check out window companies’ online reviews in Saskatoon and areas around.
Once you narrow your list down, it is a good idea to check out what people are saying about them online. We left this part for last because online reviews should be taken with a dose of skepticism.
A lot of companies today indulge in getting fake or assisted reviews from “extremely happy customers” to boost their reputations. Vice versa, there are companies who may not have a lot of online presence and are getting unjustly hurt by the few negative reviews while the bulk of their good work goes undocumented. That’s why window reviews aren’t necessarily ideal for determining whether a company is good or bad.
What they are good for, is noticing patterns of where a company falls short on their promises. Read several bad reviews or complaints about a window replacement Saskatoon, and there is a good chance the majority of them will be about a similar issue.
Most often it’s things like bad communication from the head office, or changing project timelines and installation dates. It will be up to you to decide whether the company is still worth giving your business to. At least you can be aware of where they faltered in the past, and maybe even ask them directly if you will experience the same problems if you decide to buy from them.
Bringing attention to problems they had in the past, can only help ensure the company does everything in their power to prevent the same mistake from being repeated.
The most common sites for company reviews in Canada are Homestars and the Better Business Bureau. You can find out what existing customers are saying about local window companies, manufacturers of Saskatoon doors and more on Homestars and BBB, check their ratings, and look for some common complaints clients had in the past.
What to do when your window order arrives?
You can save a lot of money and time by making sure the windows that get delivered are the same as specified in the contract. Double check the style, size, and certification labels on all the windows. Make sure that the invisible features in the windows (low-E coating, spacers, gas fill) have appropriate labels on the unit. In a “supply and install” arrangement the manufacturer is usually responsible for the product quality, and the supplier for the quality of the installation.
In a “supply and install” arrangement the manufacturer is usually responsible for the product quality, and the supplier for the quality of the installation.
But often, the success of your window replacement depends on variable factors that you may not be able to control or affect. Installation is one of them, for example: the company can assure you and show you examples, but what happens on the day of at your residence depends on the installers, the weather, and the condition of your home.
Similarly, the price of your replacement windows is not something you can control or even assess properly. Many companies lower their prices just to compete with other window manufacturers,however, increase them if they can see the client is willing to spend. Sometimes offer fake discounts to seem more appealing to the customer.
If there is one thing you CAN absolutely control before you spend your money, it is the quality of the windows you buy. Even then it is not an easy task as many companies will conceal the manufacturing origin of their windows or lie about their window performance and energy efficiency.
Thankfully, in Canada, there are entities that not only certify, but also test windows, and assess their energy efficiency as it relates to different regions in the country. The criteria these organizations use for evaluating window performance are also useful for deciding whether new windows will be good enough for the cold Saskatchewan climate and how efficient those windows are.
When it comes to quality and comparing windows and doors Saskatoon, while a salesperson may tell you one thing, the performance numbers don’t lie and often paint a completely different picture.
Vinyl Windows Saskatoon
Regardless of the window type or style, there are two main factors to consider when comparing and picking quality windows:
- The windows you get should be tested by, and adhere to NAFS standards.
- For maximum comfort and efficiency, the windows you get should be rated by ENERGY STAR.
Because both the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) and ENERGY STAR® rely on similar criteria for evaluating windows, usually if a window is good enough to qualify for one standard, it also qualifies for the other. Very rarely will you see a window manufacturer that sells ENERGY STAR® qualified windows that don’t meet the NAFS standard.
Check out ENERGY STAR® rated window companies here
Find out which windows in Canada meet NAFS standards
*Keep in mind, not all companies manufacture their own windows. If a company’s product is absent from either of these websites, chances are it is not certified, but it may also not go by the company’s name, or carry the original manufacturer’s name.
NAFS standards and Canadian window ratings
As a Canadian window consumer, the windows you purchase should comply with the NAFS standard. The Canadian Standards association has laid out specific guidelines for window performance in these categories:
- positive design pressure, where applicable;
- negative design pressure, where applicable;
- water penetration test pressure; and
- air infiltration and exfiltration level.
While the NAFS is the minimum standard all windows installed in Canada should comply to, different windows have their own unique Energy Ratings (ER) based on several measurements of performance. Energy Ratings are a more simplified and harmonized way to understand and compare window performance.
Understanding ENERGY RATINGS when comparing windows
A window’s ER rating is calculated on three factors: solar heat gains, heat loss through frames, spacers and glass, and air leakage heat loss. ER ratings rank between 0-50, the higher the rating, the more efficient the window.
The ER number is a balance between heat loss ratings (U-Factor) and solar heat gains through the window (SHGC).
U-Factor is a measure of how much heat a window system loses. Note the use of the word system here. Traditionally window performance was often judged by the R-value of the materials used, but modern windows often use different materials with different R-values, so it is not accurate to measure these values in relation to the window as a whole.
The lower the U-Value, the less heat is lost through the whole window. Some of the best thermal windows on the market achieve a U-Value of 1 or slightly lower.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is a fraction of how much UV heat is allowed to pass through the glass into your home. SHGC can range from 0 to 1, but the higher the coefficient, the more heat your windows gain from the sun. SHGC also has a direct effect on the energy rating of a window. It only makes sense: a window that allows more heat in, is technically more efficient because it, in turn, requires less energy to keep the home warm.
However, the efficiency of modern vinyl windows is relatively high to a point where windows with higher SHGC ratings can actually overheat rooms even in the winter time. This is especially true for unshaded windows facing south or west, and in homes with high window to wall ratio.
Although it is meant only for comparison purposes, the ER number is still a good indicator of the effect windows will have on your annual heating costs. The lower the number, the more heat is lost and the harder the heating system has to work in colder weather.
ENERGY STAR® also uses the ER number to rate whether a window can be considered efficient in different climate regions in Canada.