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Cheap Replacement Windows: Myth or Reality?

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The reason why you--or anyone--is on the relentless search for cheap replacement windows is because of the multiplication factor. What I mean by this is that you can often stomach the high cost of some home improvement projects because of the "one unit" cost.

A new water heater? That's one unit. So, paying an extra $150 for that water heater amounts to just $150. But when you pay an extra $2 per square foot for hardwood flooring, and then multiply that by 1,000 (square feet), that comes to a mind-numbing $2,000.

Same with replacement windows. Most houses have 20 or more windows which need to be replaced. A $100 difference in price is appreciable when multiplied by 20 windows.

Tips for Finding Cheap Replacement Windows

If you are intent on buying only the most high-end, brand-name, costly replacement windows--and haven't the nerve for cost-saving measures--then do not read on. Otherwise, read on:
  1. Avoid the Name Brands: The traditional big name-brands such as Pella, Andersen, Milgard, and Marvin typically have higher prices, even for their low-end windows.
  2. Go for Common Styles: Curves, hexagons, circles, bays, and bows will immediately shoot up the price. The cheapest styles tend to be double-hung, sliders, fixed, and casement windows.
  3. Contractor Grade: Anything called "architectural grade" is bound to be expensive. Seek out "contractor grade" windows.
  4. Avoid Authorized Dealers: Authorized dealers usually offer only one brand, limiting the competition which helps you find better prices.
  5. Do You Need Those Extra Features?: This is where they really get you. I have argued before that the low-e coating is nice but often not worth the added cost. Burglar latches should be a no-cost feature of all windows. Specialty hardware (the pulls, cranks, etc.) will usually cost more from the installer than if you buy them yourself at your local home improvement store. Do you really need argon or krypton gas between the panes, as opposed to dead air?
  6. Get the Cheap Materials: Wood is more expensive than fiberglass. Fiberglass is more expensive than vinyl. Vinyl windows are by far the cheapest window available today. Do some soul-searching and decide if you really need those wood windows.
  7. Negotiate Price: Every single replacement window company on earth will negotiate price--even the authorized dealers. I may be exaggerating, but I think I am fairly close in my estimation. By simply coming back with a counter-offer 20% lower than their price, you can expect arrive at a cost that saves you hundreds or thousands of dollars in replacement window costs. I guarantee you this. If it does not work, move onto the next window company and try the same thing.
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