Buying a “new to you” home is exciting. But there may come a time when you realize you need to purchase new windows and doors. This is an investment, but it’s the ideal time of year to consider tackling this project with a possible tax return in your future or at least start planning for your upgrade later in the year.
Here are five questions you should consider before replacing your windows and doors.
1. Are there any neighborhood or HOA rules?
Before you start researching window and door styles, take the time to review any neighborhood or HOA rules that discuss the exterior of your home. Some areas have guidelines that help create a consistent look for the community while others have strict rules about the color, style, and grid types allowed. If anything is unclear, reach out to your neighborhood association or HOA board for clarification. Then, your door and window dealer can help you select the ideal product line for your situation.
2. What about state or city requirements?
When working with a reputable window dealer or manufacturer, he/she will be able to help you understand which requirements your home must meet. It’s important to know that your current windows may not meet the latest regulations, so you may need to factor this into your window selection.
If you live in Florida, location will play a key role. Depending upon how close you live to the coast, your home may be located in a Wind Borne Debris Territory (also known as a hurricane-prone area). These zones are noted in the blue and gold shaded areas in the map above. In these areas, your home must include a heightened level of protection like shutters, plywood, or impact windows and doors.
Do you live in Miami-Dade or Broward counties? We worked with Florida building officials after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to develop the strictest building codes in the nation, otherwise known as the Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (NOAs). When you are in the market for new windows and doors, select a manufacturer who meets or exceeds these standards.
3. What options are available that could save me money?
Insurance premiums: Opting for some voluntary upgrades like impact resistant doors and windows could save you money on your homeowners’ policy. Homes in states such as Florida come with different risks than those located in the Midwest, for example — but your insurer will also consider the size, age, and characteristics of your house, prior losses, and features that qualify you for discounts or credits. Basically, it costs insurers less to reduce premium prices than it does to pay for damages and losses. Reach out to your insurance company to see how upgrading to impact doors and windows will help you lower your premiums or if they offer additional any discounts or credits for specific door and windows types.
Energy efficiency: The glass type you choose for your doors and windows can save you money. Window manufacturers offer an extensive selection of glass types, including insulating glass, laminated glass, and laminated insulating glass. Features such as these contribute to decreased indoor energy usage, as well as lower cooling and heating costs. Window types such as vinyl (both impact windows and non impact) have multi-chamber frames that help improve energy efficiency. Some glass coatings, like Low-E can can also help lower your bills.
4. What type of door and window options are available?
When replacing windows and doors, you have an opportunity to select unique options or even consider a new type of style where an existing one was. Here are some things to consider when talking with your window dealer:
- • Do they suggest a different type of replacement window or door to make life easier or give you a new look? For example, you may want to consider a casement window with a screen over your kitchen sink so you can easily open and close it with a crank.
- • Home safety can be improved by selecting impact windows and doors. Not only do they protect you from the elements, but impact resistant doors and windows can help protect your family from a burglary. Although they are not entirely burglar-proof, breaking through them can be much more difficult due to the clear interlayer.
- • What type of materials do they recommend? How might you benefit from aluminum or vinyl framed windows (or vice versa)? Aluminum windows are known for their strength, so they are popular in coastal areas. Vinyl windows are typically energy efficient and can resist fading and corrosion from the elements. A reputable dealer can help you decide what is best for your home.
- Can you select features such as:
5. What type of warranty does the dealer and/or the window manufacturer provide?
Some dealers will offer a warranty on the installation portion of the windows and doors they sell. There will also be a separate warranty on the products themselves offered by the manufacturer. It’s important to understand what’s available to you and for how long. Also, this is a good time to ask your dealer about suggested maintenance for your new windows and doors. Your new doors and windows will require periodic cleaning and care to maximize their durability and operation, especially in salt-air environments.
Upgrading your windows and doors offers multiple benefits:
- • You gain peace of mind knowing your home is safer from the elements and would be intruders.
- • Cost savings such as lower insurance premiums and lower energy bills could be in your future.
- • You can change the look of your home by making this type of upgrade.
No matter your choice, make sure you work with a reputable dealer to ensure a proper install.