DIY home improvement sounds like a lifesaver—until you’re standing in your living room with a $5,000 custom window and no idea where to start. What if you drop the window? What if it cracks during installation? What if…?
Hiring a window installer can save you time, stress, and money. But when it comes to hiring the right window replacement contractor, it pays to do your homework. Here are 15 key questions to ask window installers when looking for the perfect fit.
Questions About Window Installer Experience
1. Can I see examples of your past work?
You deserve to see what you’re buying before you take out your wallet. If you’re wondering what questions to ask when installing new windows and hiring a contractor, this is top of the list. Most reputable companies should have either reference photos to previous work or a showroom where you can take an in-depth look. Never work with a contractor who won’t reference previous work. A quick look at their Yelp page should tell you why.
2. How long will this window installation take?
This is a crucial question to ask your window contractor. Most companies bill labor costs based on the amount of time needed for the installation. You need to know how much time you’re looking at and whether or not you can shrink that time depending on weather or crew size. Most contractors won’t be able to give you an exact quote, but the contractors with plenty of experience should be able to give you a reasonable estimate.
3. How will you protect my home during installation?
Like any home improvement project, window installation can get messy—even with professional contractors. Many crews come prepared with tarps, bags, and other protective gear to put over your furniture and floors, but it’s not a given. Always ask what your contractor’s clean-up plan is and whether or not they bring protective items. You can always invest in some of your own at your local hardware store if the answer is no.
4. Can you tell me about your installers?
Any questions you ask a window contractor apply to their installers as well. You need to know that every single person on their crew brings the same levels of experience and professionalism to your window replacement. Ask your contractor about their installers’ experience, reputation, and specialities. Some companies also offer background checks if you’re inviting a crew into a home with children.
5. Do you have insurance and a license?
This may seem like a common sense assumption, but the fact is many contractors work without licenses or insurance. While that’s not necessarily a testament to their abilities or experience, hiring a contractor without insurance or proper licensing can cause you significant headaches if things go wrong.
At the bare minimum, you want your contractor to show proof of liability insurance (to protect your home) and workers compensation insurance (to protect their workers in your home). If you’re working with a historical property, you should also double-check that your contractor has the proper city and state licensing to work on the property.
6. What is the warranty for my installation?
Even before choosing a window contractor, you should be researching warranties. With a good installation and standard maintenance, your replacement window should last decades. But if it’s installed improperly, it can be a costly nightmare if you don’t check the warranty. Always ask about the warranty that comes with your installation. If it covers less than ten years, do a bit of investigating.
Questions About Window Costs and Pricing
7. What are your payment terms?
If you’re looking at window installation questions, you already know that window replacement isn’t cheap. Luckily, most companies don’t require you to pay the full amount up front. Always check with your contractor about expected payment dates and make it clear if you’re looking for a payment plan. The only non-negotiable upfront costs are materials—plus a bit extra if you need custom orders.
8. Are debris disposal costs included in the quote?
At the end of your window installation, what happens to any debris? What happens to your old window? One way or another, those things need to be cleaned and disposed of safely. However, not every installation company offers disposal services for free.
Always ask if these services are included in the quote. If they’re not, confirm how much disposal costs before signing on the dotted line. Glass disposal comes with very specific requirements; it can be difficult or expensive to get rid of your old window on your own.
9. Does the company subcontract any work?
Subcontracting isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s crucial to know who you’re working with. You’re investing in a full crew to install your window. You need to know their experience levels, whether or not they’ve been vetted by the company, and whether their subcontract might add to your overall labor cost.
10. Are there any hidden fees?
To be clear, this window replacement question isn’t always answerable. Even the most reputable company can’t always predict additional charges related to unexpected rotting wood or lead paint complications.
However, there are some fees you should run by your installer when you’re working out your contract. Those are:
- Permits: Many contractors are happy to arrange permits for you, but it is your responsibility to pay for them. Certain permits may cost up to $1,600 depending on the history and location of your building. Not every window replacement requires a permit, but you never want to be surprised with one on the start day of your installation.
- Window Delivery: If you purchase and transport your own window, you won’t need to pay a delivery fee. However, if you purchase your windows from a company (the installers or a third party), you’ll likely need to pay a minimum of $50 to transport it. Some contractors cover this cost, so be sure to ask.
11. Do you charge for your estimate?
This question should be answered on the company’s website, but it’s always important to double-check. Estimates happen before you ever sign a contract and you might be looking at estimates from several different contractors. You don’t want to end up paying unexpectedly for a service from a company you don’t end up hiring.
Most reputable companies tend to offer free estimates. If you’re being charged, it might be best to decline the offer up front.
Questions About Window Installation Logistics
12. Who will be present during the installation?
You might not put this one at the top of your list of questions to ask window installers, but safety dictates that you need to know who’s coming into your home. Additionally, even with a labor quote, you want to know how many installers you’re expecting so that you aren’t surprised on the day.
Additionally, you want to make sure the crew members assigned to your installation have the experience you need—especially if you’re dealing with a historical home or neighborhood.
13. How does weather impact the timeline?
Always make this one of your questions to ask window replacement companies. Ideally, when you contact a window installer, you’re speaking to someone with knowledge in the industry and not just a salesperson. However, that’s not always the case. Weather will always impact your window installation. Even if you live in a place with temperate seasons, different temperatures, air qualities, and moisture levels affect materials—especially if they include wood.
If you’re ever told that weather isn’t a factor, try a new installer.
On a more practical note, you’ll also want to avoid scheduling your installation during extreme seasons—but an expert installer will tell you that as well.
14. What do I need to do to prepare for my window installation?
Depending on your installer, you may not need to do anything before they arrive, but the process usually goes far more smoothly if you do. Always ask your installer if they need anything specific moved, set up, or covered. After that, it’s generally a good idea to to:
- Clean the areas inside and outside the window
- Remove any breakables
- Take down curtains or window coverings
- Make your home accessible (this includes turning off alarms if you’re not going to be home—and perhaps alerting a neighbor that you’re doing so)
15. Will I have to be present during the installation?
Different installers have different requirements so you’ll definitely want to include it on your list. Most installers prefer having the owner on site for liability reasons, but if you absolutely cannot attend your installation, let your installer know right off the bat. They may have individual company policies that require you to be there. In that case, you would need to contact another contracting company.
The experts at Window Nation are here to answer your questions
Knowing what questions to ask window replacement companies is important, but a great installer comes to the table with full transparency, ready to help in whatever ways you need. At Window Nation, we pride ourselves on comprehensive service, expert assistance, and affordable pricing. If you’re ready to start your window replacement project, we’re ready to help.
Contact Window Nation today for a free estimate and experience the stress-free process of expert window installation.