Well, it’s probably fair to say, since you went to the effort to find this article, that you are (at the
very least) less than satisfied with the overall condition of one, some, or all of your current
But, is it time to replace them? Well, the first option that should be explored before making that
decision is repairing them. Repairs offer a great cost-effective solution for many homeowners,
but they aren’t always the best solution. Here’s a quick look at when repairs are the right, and
- Specific functional issues (broken glass, the window won’t stay up, locks are broken)
- The issues are limited (if you have to repair multiple issues per window or all of your
windows have the same issues, it may just not be worth the cost)
- You have a reputable brand (brands like Andersen, Marvin, etc. have great options for
ordering replacement sashes, or even converting an outdated model into a more
modern, more efficient model)
- You have old wooden windows that show signs of rot, or seem misaligned (these older
windows have survived for almost 100 years in some cases, and repairing the damage may
restore them to their original state)
- If your windows function well but seem drafty (repairs most likely will not address drafts
- Warped vinyl sashes (if your sash is warped, and you aren’t able to order replacement
sashes from the manufacturer, repairs just won’t be worth the cost, as the window will
still perform poorly)
- Rotted, twisted, or broken frames (if the frame wasn’t installed properly, or has been
damaged due to settling, water issues, heat, or any other reason, repairs just will not
solve the issue. The frames need to be removed, and that means new windows)
Obviously, there is more nuance to what your home and your windows may need, but hopefully
this was a good starting point. If you ultimately feel like repairs just won’t get you the desired
results, or the repair costs for your home start rivaling the cost to invest in new windows, then
it’s time to start doing your research into what window best suits your needs.
As for the question at hand of “how do I determine if it’s time to invest in new windows?”, the
the answer, once you’ve determined that new windows are the course of action you want to pursue,
is pretty simple:
AS SOON AS YOU CAN AFFORD IT!
Window replacement, for whatever brand and installer you choose, will never come at a lower
cost than it is right now (or whenever you get your estimates together). The industry as a whole
tends to see a 3%-5% increase year over year, with some brands having as much as a
30%-40% increase in the past 2 years (just imagine you got an estimate in December of 2019,
saved your money, budgeted, and now when you revisit the project it is 40% more than what
you planned for!)
With that being said, cost and affordability are not the same things. No home remodeling project
is worth taking food off of your family’s table. We all have expenses to balance, and this is why I
believe that you should start your project as soon as you can afford it.
Affordability comes in many forms: it may mean that you get some things paid off first; that
you save up a certain percentage, or it can mean using financing if the payment is comfortable.
Financing is a great way to avoid the natural inflation of the industry.
Why is financing a good idea, and what plan is best for you?
- You may want to consider something like an 18-month, no-interest loan for a project you
had planned on starting next year. This gets you a lower price now compared to the
price next year, plus the benefits of your new windows, literally without costing you
anything extra! If 18 months is too short of a time frame for you to feel comfortable with,
then you have other options
- Reduce the scope of your project and focus on the windows or doors that will give you
the biggest benefit now, or the ones that just can’t wait, and revisit the rest of the project
- Take a longer loan with interest, and complete your project now. Talk to your bank, and
weigh their options against the financing options offered by your installer. Even if you
have to take a loan at 5% to 15% over five years or more, the money you save against
inflation and the energy benefits of your new windows will more than offset the interest
on the loan.
Whatever you determine is the best time and financial option for your family, just make sure you
are investing in a product that will last. I’ve seen far too many homeowners get stuck redoing a
project within 10 years (sometimes within 5 years) simply because they assumed all windows or
doors are “good enough,” and they got lured in by the lowest price they could find.
If you want some pointers on how to navigate the confusing world of windows and doors, please
read my article titled “How do I choose the right product and installer?”