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How Much Do Replacement Windows Cost?

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There are many reasons to replace the windows on your house: a new set of windows can give your house a subtle facelift; replacing a small window with a larger one makes for more light and a better view; and newer, energy-efficient windows can save you an average 25% on your energy bill. Whatever the reason for replacing your windows, it?s important to have a professional perform the work. Replacing windows isn?t a DIY project; and doing it yourself is unlikely to save you money in the greater scheme of things anyhow.

On This Page:

  1. Comparing Window Replacement Costs
  2. Window Replacement Cost Factors
  3. Don't DIY Window Replacement
  4. Factors of Professional Window Replacement Quotes

Window Replacement Cost - Comparison Per Window

Window varieties are classified according to how they operate. When choosing one, you must consider the size and function of your window, as well as the look you're hoping to achieve.The types of windows most commonly installed and replaced on a home include:

Single-hung windows ($175-$350 per window)

  • Classic, old-fashioned, vertically opening windows. Only the bottom pane -- called the ?sash? -- slides.
  • Offer slightly better insulation but not enough to make a significant difference.
  • Sometimes referred to as a fixed window. (This is incorrect as a fixed window doesn't open at all.)
  • Use on the ground floor only; cleaning on higher floors is dangerous as it requires leaning out of the window to reach the outside of the upper sash.

Double-hung windows ($300-$800 per window)

  • Both upper and lower sashes move.
  • Increased circulation occurs when lower and upper sashes are open. (There is no change in the total open area, but higher and lower openings let fresh air in while allowing stale air to escape.)
  • Cleaning on upper floors is safe and easy; both sashes usually lean inward for this purpose.

Sliding windows ($325-$1200 per window)

  • Include two sashes -- one sliding horizontally over the other, stationary sash.
  • Sliders (sometimes called ?gliders?) are often used for larger windows.
  • Smaller sills and cases increase viewable area.
  • Easily removed top pane makes for easy cleaning and maintenance.
  • Use on the ground floor only; cleaning on higher floors is dangerous as it requires leaning out of an unsecured window.

Casement windows ($275-$750 per window)

  • Hinged to one side, opens like a door. A casement window hinged to the top is called an ?awning,? while a window hinged at the bottom is called a hopper. Used mostly for ventilation, often found near ceilings or in basements.
  • Casements that open outward are generally not used where the window abuts a walkway.
  • Casement windows open via a crank that doubles as a lock, though many models offer separate locks for added security.
  • Due to the crank mechanism, resist being blown open or closed by the wind.
  • Casement windows provide maximum ventilation as the window can swing completely away from the frame.
  • Since the entire window can swing open, larger windows may have a large fixed pane in the middle with left and right opening casement windows at either end.

For more information on replacement windows, contact a pro.

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Cost Factors

Replacing a window costs an average of $300 to $700 per window. This assumes that the replacement window is going into an existing and structurally sound frame on a ground floor. Replacing windows in a typical three-bedroom, single-story home with ten windows can cost from $3,000 to $7,000. This cost can easily double for a two-story home. In the case that a window frame must be replaced, it is called a ?new construction? window. A new construction window can increase the cost of replacement by as much as 50% to 100%, raising the average cost to anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. Other factors affecting cost include:

  • The need to alter an existing frame
  • Double- or triple-glazed windows
  • Insulating gases in double- or triple-glazed windows
  • Exterior dressing (decorative awnings, etc.)
  • Remoteness of the job site location
  • Time demands on the contractor
  • Unforeseen structural deficiencies
  • Profit: A contractor has to make money to stay in business just like anyone else. This area will present the greatest variation in price, with some bids including a profit margin of 60%-80% or higher and the typical range falling between 20-40%. The more difficult the conditions of the area (high, hot/cold, remote, etc.), the more the contractor may charge. A profit margin of 25% is realistic.

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Don't Do It Yourself?

The tools and knowledge to correctly replace a window belong to the professionals -- and they do the job so often that they can usually perform the labor in a surprisingly short amount of time. In fact, by the time the average homeowner has determined the size of the window they need and compiled a basic list of tools and materials required, a professional can be halfway through the work. It's unlikely that you will save any money replacing your windows on your own either. Contractors can purchase windows and materials at wholesale, while you will most likely have to pay retail value. Further, professionals know what to measure and how to correctly measure it. If you make errors when you measure for your windows, you are responsible for any mistakes; a supplier may not accept a return for special orders. And any money you might save in labor fees, you could be spending on unexpected obstacles and hourly runs to the hardware store. A professional installer will know how to deal with the following issues and any others that may arise over the course of a job:

  • Mold - Mold is a major health issue, particularly in humid regions. Left untreated, mold and mildew can destroy wood.
  • Rotted wood - Rotten wood or wood damaged by pests can severely affect the integrity of a window.
  • Structural integrity - All exterior walls are ?load-bearing? and constructed to maintain the structural integrity of the house, including the windows. If you don't know with 100% certainty what can or can't be removed or modified, you need to let a licensed contractor handle the job.
  • Measurements - It's not a matter of simply measuring the opening length by width. Three measurements must be taken, accounting for trim, pulleys and stop strips. If these aren't measured correctly, the window won't fit.
  • Age and codes - Older homes may not have standard-size windows, so replacing them may require removing the frame and installing a new supporting structure. If your home is significantly older -- a Victorian-era home, for example -- modifications may be required to bring things up to code.
  • Type of glass - Depending on the window's location, tempered or safety glass may be required by law.
  • Window location - Ordinances may not allow a window to be placed where you want one. For example, you are generally not allowed to install a window into a wall less than three feet from your property line. Local laws may supersede national laws, so it is important to consult your local ordinance before installing windows.

For more information, get in touch with a window professional.

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What to Expect from a Professional Quote

It's recommended you get a quote from at least five different window replacement professionals before you decide who to hire. it is important to understand that a quote from an installer will not typically include the window frame. You can expect the following from a typical quote:

  • The use of sheets and drop cloths to protect your home's interior around the work area. (It will be up to you to move furniture and window treatments, etc.)
  • Removal of the old windows. The quote should also list the locations of the windows to be removed.
  • A clause to remove and replace any rotted or damaged wood as necessary. Since the contractor won't know exactly how much, if any, will need to be replaced until the work begins, this amount can vary. This is an important matter to discuss with the contractor because extensive repairs for bad wood can easily add $3,000 to your total.
  • Installation of new windows. This should specify brand, style, size, any screens, color of the casing (if needed), and other details about the windows themselves.
  • Insulation and weatherproofing around the window.
  • Clean-up of interior and exterior work areas and removal of all job-related debris.
  • A summary of the guarantee. Be sure to keep a written copy of the full guarantee for your own protection.

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