Author Topic: custom windows  (Read 1621 times)


  • Stubble
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custom windows
« on: June 15, 2016, 11:21:34 PM »
Seeking guidance:
My husband and I bought an awesome house last year as our primary residence (we also have another rental house so have had some practice with plenty of DIY and occasional professional repairs).  This house has required A LOT of work (a good chunk we have been able to do ourselves) with a lot still left to do, but it has great bones!  One of the selling features were tons of big windows, however, they are all original to 1969.
We are hoping to replace the windows (still determining where on the priority list this will come) due to sky high gas/electric bills in the winter plus safety and visual appeal (a few windows have cracks, BB gun hole, etc.).  We got a free estimate from Home Depot just to get an idea... $26k OMG that is so much money (for reference we are in CA and our house is probably worth $400-450k).  That number also includes 4 sliding glass doors but does not include a couple smaller standard sized windows we can do ourselves.  Every other window is 'custom' because of the sizes (mostly big rectangles, some big triangles).

So... I know they run 15% off specials about once a quarter and I will also get another estimate from Lowes, and hopefully a local shop as well, BUT are there any other options or ideas?  We have time on our side and can likely put this project off months or years.  I just want to have some kind of game plan and feel like I am getting as good of a deal as I can expect.

Thanks in advance! 


  • Stubble
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Re: custom sized windows
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2016, 09:15:50 PM »


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: custom windows
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2016, 09:58:33 PM »
Habitat ReStore? My local ReStore sometimes has misordered windows that can't be returned, complete with NFRC stickers and carrying frames. You'd have to piece good windows together over a long time and they wouldn't match (an Andersen 400 here, a Simonton 5500 there, etc.) but it would be inexpensive.


  • Stubble
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Re: custom windows
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2016, 09:05:48 AM »
Windows are expensive in general.  The best you can do to make sure you are getting the best deal possible is to get many quotes and make sure you understand what each quote is covering.  Some ideas that came to my mind while reading your post were:
- Getting quotes from big box stores will be for the major brands (Pella, Anderson...) and what ever contractor they use to install them.
- There are some smaller local companies that make good windows that are not in the big box stores.
- You have time on your side you said, so get many quotes until you feel like you understand what you would be paying for.  What makes one quote more or less than another.  Is it a name brand window, a high Angie's list rating so they feel they've earned the right to charge more, a company just starting out so they are cutting you a deal to get business.
- Installation quality can also vary, so contractor in addition to the window itself matters.  A great window does little good if they do a poor job installing it.

I hope some of this helps.  Good luck

Kathryn K.

  • Bristles
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Re: custom windows
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2016, 10:56:54 AM »
I used to work for a major window company and yep, a lot of big windows and 4 sliding doors (how big is this house?) are going to be expensive.

If cost rather than a lot of hand holding is important, going through a big box store will save you money as compared to going to a dedicated window store for that brand (even with my employee discount it was usually cheaper to buy windows through the big box store).

Also, a lot of the cost adders (at least for the company I worked for) once you had picked the basic material of the window (i.e. vinyl vs. wood) and its size were for decorative things.  For example, the basic wood window vs. the fancy wood window had all the same quality of materials for wood, glass, etc.   So go for the standard options for window color, hardware finish, etc. rather than the special upgrade ones.

I will also add one you get past a certain point (and I've run the numbers) additional coatings, etc. to get a better U-factor  and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (and exactly what levels you'll want depend on your climate) will save you minimally in energy costs vs. the extra cost of the window.  But given that the windows are from 1969 and you have holes in them :-) you should see improvement from a basic dual-pane insulated glass window.

So I would say wait for a sale and replace the windows a couple at a time, especially since you say a lot of them aren't urgent to do.


  • Stubble
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Re: custom windows
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2016, 10:06:00 PM »
Thank you everyone.  Lots of good info to think about!  For reference the house is 2 bedrooms 3 bathrooms and about 1500sq ft. Living room walls are about 85% window.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: custom windows
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2016, 09:27:14 AM »
I had all my screens replaced last summer and can vouch for the fact that if you're ordering an entire house's worth of work you stand a much better chance of getting a discount. I also got a better price by going through a local window and door company as opposed to one of the big box stores, particularly since I wanted something outside the norm (in this case, some odd window sizes and a heavier animal-resistant screen).

In my area, the big box stores contract out to local companies for the installation work. There's a profit margin for the big box store built into the bid.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: custom windows
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2016, 07:20:15 AM »
   I suggest seeing if you have a local branch of MBS. A normal good double pane window is about $135. You will have to install yourself or find an installer. I suggest having whoever is doing the install do the measuring so if it is wrong it is their problem. Have been paying 50-60 a window for installs. If you are near Cincinnati, PM me and I can hook you up with very reasonable installer.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: custom windows
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2016, 10:50:45 AM »
$26K seems super high to me, even for custom.
Our builder (who is pretty high end) ballparks $700 per window installed.
Glass doors are double that.   Talk to some local builders (not from big outfits, try smaller remodeling companies)

How many windows in the house?