1. Contractor or Builder Grade Windows Are Always Cheaper
Summary: Builders seek out the lowest cost commodity window because their bottom line is affected. If saving money is your prime interest, you should, too.
Anything called "architectural grade" is bound to be expensive. By contrast, replacement windows (and plenty of other home remodeling materials, such as floors, doors, cabinets, etc.) that go under the designation builder grade or contractor grade will always be cheaper.
This means a basic product that satisfies minimum requirements. Detractors say that builder grade products are inherently defective. Defenders say that they can be just as good as the expensive ones--just cheaper. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
These windows can be hard to find because they go by any number of names. Other times, they are quite obvious. For example, Jeld-Wen offers a V-2500 series window that is literally called Jeld-Wen Builders Vinyl Windows.
2. Avoid Extra Features That Drive Up the Price
Summary: Like any other industry, window companies offer add-ons and features that trick out your window. But is it worth the expense?
We all like extra features. Cars, TVs, computers, mobile devices--the deal is always sweetened with fun add-ons. Windows are no exception.
Companies offer features that fatten their profit margin (and your enjoyment, too), yet are not necessarily mandatory. Consider if you really need:
3. Negotiate a Lower Price (Yes, It Is Possible)
Summary: Every replacement window company will negotiate prices--even authorized dealers.
Replacement windows: this is one home remodeling industry where price negotiation is not just tolerated; it's practically expected.
Competition for your money is fierce. Local replacement window companies that lock down an efficient and honest process--from the first sales contact to the moment you read off your credit card number at the end--can practically mint money.
They purchase inexpensive wholesale replacements and supply you with them and with the all-important labor to install them. It is a well-oiled machine with tolerances built-in for negotiation. Do not be afraid to do this.
4. Cheaper Materials Make For a Cheaper Window
Summary: Vinyl over fiberglass, fiberglass over wood.
Do some soul-searching and decide if you really need those wood windows.
5. Stick To Common Styles
Summary: Common styles and shapes are cheaper.
Curves, hexagons, circles, bays, and bows--all of those fun things--will immediately drive up the price.
The cheapest styles tend to be double-hung, sliders, fixed, and casement windows.
6. Avoid Authorized Dealers That Only Deal In One Brand
Summary: Authorized dealers that offer only one brand limit the competition which helps you find better prices.
Authorized window dealers can return great benefits. Many have been in business for a long time, a plus when you need to call in a warranty.
But by going to a brand-centric authorized dealer, you have already narrowed down your choices before you even start looking at windows.
Not all authorized dealers are brand-centric. Notably, Home Depot is an authorized dealer of Andersen, Jeld-Wen, American Craftsman (an Andersen brand), and Vantage Pointe (a Simonton brand).
7. "Price Triangulation" Always Saves You Money
Summary: When you get three estimates, one estimate will always be the lowest. Simple.
If this appears to be basic logic that we all should have learned in kindergarten, why do so many homeowners not take advantage of this simple price-slashing method?
Schedule three replacement window companies to come to your house. Do this three nights in a row. After that, you will have a price spread of estimates one low, one medium, one high.
"Price triangulation" is the age-old practice of "getting three estimates." The terminology tweak emphasizes that, just like a tripod, three points minimum are needed for stability.