Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to invest in new windows for your home—replacing the old, drafty ones that stick in their tracks with modern, easy-to-open windows. Now what?
If you’re like the clients we’ve served for nearly 30 years, you’ll want to find an experienced window replacement company that is reliable, has a solid reputation and offers quality products at a fair price.
Here are 12 key questions to ask to help you find the best window contractor for you:
Question 1: What size and type of company do I want to work with?
This is a question to ask yourself, and it may largely depend on your personal preferences. There are national players like Feldco and Renewal by Anderson, your big box home stores, and local specialists like McCann Window & Exterior. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of each and decide whom you’re most comfortable working with.
On the plus side, a company like Feldco has a recognizable name. On the downside, they offer their product line only, limiting your options. Similarly, there’s name recognition in working with a big box store, but remember that window sales and installation are only one small part of what they do. And if you have questions or problems, how easy is it to call them and get a live person on the phone who can help?
At McCann, we work with multiple name-brand window makers, which gives you a wide range of options. In addition, we are window specialists. We install windows every day, all day long, and this is our core business. This means our clients are confident that we know what we’re doing.
Question 2: How much selection do you offer?
Many window installers specialize in one type of window. This means you can invest (lose) a ton of time researching on your own and determining which window is best for you. Who has time for that?
At McCann window, we have a ton of options and we can walk you through the pros and cons of each. This gives you a chance to make the best decision for you, your home and your budget.
Question 3: To what degree will you help me make the right choice?
When we come to your home for a free consultation, that’s exactly what it is—a consultation, not a canned sales presentation. We take the time to ask you questions about what you want and need. And then we use that information to guide you through our options so that you make an informed, educated decision.
We’re more interested in guiding you to what’s best for you than we are in making a sale. Even if it means you choose another window company, we know you’ll remember our honesty and that’s what you’ll tell your friends.
With the players who only have one product, they have to focus on why that product is ideal for you. After all, it’s hard to guide you to the best product for you if you’re the sales rep and have only one window to sell.
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Question 4: When you come to my house, how long is the initial consultation going to take?
In a society as time-starved as ours, it’s hard to believe that many window companies want you to sit through a 2- to 2.5-hour dog and pony show. We have a client who said it best in her Yelp review:
“McCann was a light in the darkness of getting quotes for a window replacement. We contacted three other companies for quotes and two of them, including Sears, insisted on having at least an hour to make their presentation (although both took 2). We have an infant daughter and were only replacing one window so those meetings were an absolute nightmare. We were about to give up until we saw McCann’s reviews on yelp and decided to call one more company.”—Stephanie E., Evanston, IL
With McCann, most of our consultations take 60 minutes total. And you’re part of the process, not listening with numb ears to a canned sales presentation.
Question 5: What assurances can you give that you’re going to install my windows properly?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but we’ve heard stories of windows being installed upside down and installed in such a way that it broke the window. We highly recommend hiring full-time window installers who have completed at least one factory training program. You want to avoid a company whose crew installs windows one day, kitchen cabinets the next and a bathtub the day after that.
At McCann, we’re a Platinum-Certified Pella Contractor. This means our window installers have completed a required number of training hours through Pella, and we take ongoing training classes each year.
Question 6: How long is it going to take once we order the windows?
This varies from one window company to another and can depend on the replacement windows you choose. Generally speaking, at McCann we can have your new windows ready to install in 30 to 60 days. Many of the bigger players take 90 to 120 days.
Question 7: How long have you been in business? Your window manufacturers?
Although every business is a start-up at some point, this is a critical question for you to ask. We’ve seen many fly-by-night operations come and go, both in window installation companies and window manufacturers. If you choose a company that’s new to market and they disappear, you’re left with a worthless warranty and no method to repair the windows you’ve spent thousands of dollars on.
We recommend choosing a window installer and a window manufacturer with proven track records. At McCann, we have very carefully chosen name-brand window manufacturers who also have a local presence. This means they’re readily available and accessible if our clients need anything.
Question 8: Is your company reputable?
Of course, if you ask any business owner or salesperson this, they’re going to say, “But of course we are!” The beauty of the internet is that you can check this out yourself. Take time to read reviews about the company on Angie’s List, Google, Yelp and even their Facebook page.
If there’s a complaint or negative review, how did the company respond? With facts or fury? This can tell you a lot about how the company handles customer concerns.
Question 9: Are you licensed and insured?
Any window installation company you hire should carry general liability insurance, and you’ll want to ask to see a copy of the insurance certificate before they begin work in your home.
When it comes to licensing, this varies according to where you live. While the state of Illinois doesn’t have any licensing requirements, the city of Chicago does. If you’re in Chicago, you’ll want to make sure your contractor’s license is current.
Question 10: What is your warranty?
You’ll want to know what warranty the window company offers on workmanship and installation, as well as what the manufacturer offers on the windows themselves.
At McCann, we offer a 5-year warranty on workmanship and installation. Many of our window makers offer lifetime warranties on their products.
Question 11: How much are the windows going to cost?
We purposely listed this question toward the bottom of the list. While cost is obviously a consideration, we highly recommend that you don’t let the entire decision hinge on price. Instead, consider the value of the overall offering. What’s the service level? Your trust factor? How easy is the company to work with? How much time and money might you waste choosing the wrong company?
Question 12: What are the payment terms?
Understandably, most window companies require a deposit before the windows can be ordered. From there, payment terms vary. What terms are you most comfortable with?
Some companies may offer financing options. At McCann, we offer GreenSky, a financing program that offers you up 12 months with 0 percent interest to finance a window, door or other home improvement project.
Do you feel armed and ready to begin your search? Remember that a professional window installer who takes pride in their work will welcome your questions and will want to help you make the right choice. Be wary of any company that becomes defensive or tries to hurry you through the process.
To that point, we would welcome the opportunity to answer your questions or speak with you about your new windows.