There's no such thing as simply getting new windows. You have to decide on materials, installation technique, manufacturer, and most importantly, the installer.
Researchers at checkbook.org surveyed thousands of local window customers about the quality of knowledge, advice, workmanship, and overall performance of more than two dozen window installation companies in the Puget Sound region.
Checkbook president Robert Krughoff says some local window contractors are rated superior by almost all of their customers.
"Others, get terrible ratings," said Krughoff. "Thirty percent or so of their customers say that they did a very bad job."
Complaints about poor workmanship underscore the importance of doing your homework, and getting multiple bids, in writing, before you hire any contractor. Make sure they're licensed, bonded and insurance, and check their claims and enforcement history with the state Department of Labor and Industries. Make sure details of the work being done are spelled out in writing. Never pay a contractor the full amount up front. A typical deposit is around 25 percent, with the balance due when the work is complete.
In addition to quality of workmanship, a secret shopper price check found huge price differences- for the same project- from one company to the next. For example, price quotes for installation of 5 double-hung vinyl replacement windows ranged from a low of $1,750, to an average of $2,945 to a high of $5,015 for the exact same specifications.
Checkbook's window research also helps clear the confusion about energy savings. While energy efficiency is an important consideration, be wary of claims about how fast new windows will pay for themselves.
"Often those are really big exaggerations," explained Krughoff. "It's unlikely, for most people, that they'll save the cost of their windows in less than 30 years."
Of the 31 companies named in the customer survey, 11 get top ratings for quality, ten get top ratings for price, but only five get Checkbook's top ratings for both: Breeze Free Window & Door in Snohomish, Puget Sound Glass in Everett, Signature Window & Door in Auburn, South Tacoma Glass Specialists in Lakewood and Windows & Glass Sales & Service in Milton.
The full report on window installation and repair includes detailed information about materials, window types, durability, insurance, contract issues and more. Keep in mind, Checkbook.org is a subscriber-based consumer rating and research service. As a courtesy to KOMO viewers the Checkbook link will be active on our website until March 21,2014.
The Fall/Winter issue includes local customer ratings of local hearing aid dispensers, opticians and optometrists, computer repair, carpet cleaners, fence builders and more.