$80,000 for 15 replacement windows - is this reasonable?

linley1March 4, 2008

We just moved into a new house that has builders grade vinyl windows. The windows are all functioning but I really prefer the look of wood windows with simulated divided light grids.

I've been reading these forums and some other ones as well and thought I had a good idea of what things might cost. Yes, I knew wood clad would be more but my jaw dropped when I got the estimates. Both estimates included windows and installation from major window companies in the Seattle area.

The first estimate was about $80,000 for either Lindal all wood or Milgard Wood-Clad fiberglass (see the breakdown below).

The second was $86,000 for Marvin Ultimates (56,000 for windows, 10,000 other material, and 20,000 for labor).

With a few exceptions where I wanted to replace a window with French doors or raise the window sill, the windows will fit in current openings. I also wanted to replace double hungs with casements.

Are these realistic prices or am I being zipcoded? Do you have any suggestions on ways to drop the cost significantly - change to DH instead of casement etc.?

Would it possibly be cheaper to look at buying the windows and having a finish carpenter install?

I asked about Integrity/Infinity by Marvin and they said it wouldn't work since all openings had to be custom sized. I'm still confused about this as I'm pretty sure they would have used standard size windows when they built the house since it's not a custom home.

$ 5500 22" H x 100" W - Arch Picture window

$ 7500 70" H x 100" W - 2 casement with picture window in between - currently 2 (28.5 x 70) DH + 1 (42 x 70) Picture

$10000 80" H x 100" W - 3 Panel French Door currently 28" H x 100" wide awning window

$ 6000 55" H x 106" W - 2 side casements with picture window in between currently 3 DH 70"H (walling in bottom)

$ 4000 55" H x 70" W - 2 casement currently 2 DH together 70" H (walling in bottom)

$ 2500 44" H x 58" W - 2 casement currently a slider

$ 5500 80" H x 58" W - French door slider

$ 9000 80" H x 108" W - 3 Panel French Door currently 3 panel slider

$ 2200 46" H x 46" W - 2 casement currently a slider

$ 3500 40" H x 70" W - 2 casement currently a slider

$ 1000 Small bathroom picture window

$ 2400 46" H x 58" W - 2 casement currently a slider

$ 3500 58" H x 93.5 W - 2 casement w/ picture in between currently slider

$ 2500 94" H x 46" W - Picture window (Tempered)

$13000 80" H x ?" W - 3 Panel French Door currently 2 DH (58"H x 34"W) and 1 (70H x 45 Picture) - need to add new header to bridge 3 windows.

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In my experience, double hungs are always cheaper. We took out vinyl and had installed 10 Marvin all wood Ultimate Double hung 3 years ago and the cost was 10,500 total.

You might also get better pricing if you hire a local window builder to make your windows and then install.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 6:25AM
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Hi, our 4-yr old Marvin Ultimate windows, nearly all casement (only 2 dbl hung) ran on average $570 each four years ago. All standard sizing, standard hardware, no SDL.

The shop told us then that custom sizing slightly larger than our original spec would have double our cost per window. If that were true, then had we custom made the windows to custom size four years ago, as you are doing, it would have cost us, worst case, $1140 each. The arch would have been at least 3x$570.

We also have the Ultimate French 3-pane in standard everything, no SDL. They were about $6500 each. Custom sizing to make them larger would have ran us close to $10,000 each then.

Using all these VERY ROUGH, 4-yr old numbers, fifteen windows would have been 14x$1140 + 3x$570 (Arch) = $17670. The three 3-pane French would have been $30000. Total costs four years ago, very very roughly, would have been $47670 *excluding* the slider. We have no Marvin slider so we have no clue how much it was then.

May be you can apply your local inflation factor to figure what $47670 is today, after four years and then add in the slider cost to see if everything comes out "reasonable". Hope that helps.

The sort of work you mentioned such as ripping out windows to put in doors and adding a header can be costly. So $20,000 sounds OK. We spent $17000 where our crew had to open two new openings and add two headers. They also fixed all the trim, stucco, even matching stucco color and also interior heart-pine trim. We used new construction windows; that meant they completely removed the old windows and installed anew. Most of the work was on the second floor and the general contractor came out with a crew that included another two general contractors who owed him favors, so they did a top notch job but it took a week to complete.

I do not know the material cost but you can probably call local lumber yard with dimension of the header and ask for a quote. Large headers can be expensive. If you know the sort of trim to be used, you can also estimate how much and price them at a local yard.

I am very surprised by the Milgard Wood-Clad Fiberglass pricing. Four years ago, when we first saw them at a local shop, we were not impressed by the wood and it was decidedly cheaper than Marvin. May be they have improved their offering since then. Given the price is so close, it may help to really look at the wood work and window construction quality and decide base on that. The woodwork is even more important if you decide to stain.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 8:38PM
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You need to separate the cost of the windows from the cost of installation, trim, and structural work.

There is no such thing as a standard window rough opening size. Except for some rare coincidences, all companies make their windows to fit different rough openings.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 1:10PM
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I second mightyanvil's comment on "standard window" rough opening. THis is where the contractor's skills and attention to detail comes into focus.

There is no "standard" RO. Ours were always off here and there, some as little as half an inch, some more. The contractor had to make allowances during installation. He measured carefully to decide whether to use a smaller window or a large window. Then he adjusted the opening as necessary. Anything that requires enlargement, however little, means more labor cost. In our case, almost all our windows required some slight enlargement because we told him to err on slightly bigger. Only the dbl-hung were smaller to fit current RO. Luckily, most of the enlargement were slight and straightforward, so our cost did not run wild but it was higher than if we just used smaller windows.

A good contractor is a must because their expertise and attention to details is worth every penny. It is the difference between enjoying the job upon finishing or spending years dealing with leaks and problems.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 4:51PM
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We bought Andersen 400 windows- and they were not as expensive. I ordered a few of my windows with light grids, and it really increased the price. You could probably reduce the price if you skipped that (if you are willing!).

If you want a totally objective price, the Andersen window website has prices online. The prices are not for custom windows, however.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 8:23PM
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I just replaced all my windows with Marvin wood clad. I paid $25,000 installed for what I considered 11 windows, (11 openings) but the window companies considered 23 windows. 2 of the windows are paladium style with the big half round top. I can tell you that my 48 x 48 sized windows ran about $2400 each, installed. Once I decided on the type and brand of windows I wanted, I did save about 7% by getting multiple quotes on the same windows from different companies. I live in the Chicago area where labor costs are probably high. I priced both casement and double hung. Casement was a bit higher, but not much. It looks like you have some pretty big windows which cost more. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 9:17PM
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You seem to have a house full of very large windows. It's not often a consumer has so many large windows in their home. Your costs are inflated above and beyond when ordering custom sized windows. On top of that your getting SDL units which throw it in another realm. Calbay and Mightyanvil are correct on stock sizing and your installer going that extra mile to properly size and fit windows. Just for the record.....all manufacturers carry a stock sized window. In fact they are almost all the same size between many manufacturers. The stock windows are made in bulk quantities and sold to their vendors. They make massive runs of these chosen sizes and keep extra on the shelf. They have pre-cut components and glass on hand so they can conveniently make large runs when ever they need them. During slow periods they store them in the warehouse for later orders. I know the statement that there's no such thing as a stock sized window was only said because it never seems like the stock sized windows fit anywhere. The sizes will pan out over the next decade and become more relevant to the consumer as long as the manufacturers stick to what they've been doing.

Linley, you should really seek out some other pricing, Look into Andersen's recently acquired line of Eagle windows. I hold the Eagle brand high on the Totem Pole and very equal if not better than Marvin. Your pricing does seem a bit overboard depending on the application. I'm also located in MN and probably get my Marvin products a bit cheaper than others. Needless to say your pricing could be better than what you have. Remember that the Casement window is the most expensive style to choose. They are also the most energy efficient unit available. You must also be aware of the fact that every mulled (multiple) unit is really single units hooked together. So your paying for each window plus an attachment fee. You can cut your costs by getting a single window in place of anything multiple. Good Luck!!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 7:45AM
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My advice is keep looking. Just dont look at schuco. 16 months now and i still cant get my windows fixed.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Yes, 80K is way to much. If your looking for a nice real wood window, not some veneer or composite, I would look closely at both Pella and Marvin. They both offer awesome looking windows with the features your talking about and all for probably around 15K.

I have always referred all my clients to both of these companies and for tenty five years I have rarely had to suggest another. I would say that Pella has won out about 60 to 70% . GOOD LUCK

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 7:47AM
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Thanks to everyone for their comments. I got a number of other quotes after the original one and learned a few things in the process. Labor and installation costs are high here. Modifying the openings in any way adds greatly to the cost as do the the SDL grids. I revised some of my ideas and tried to work with the existing openings as much as possible. While I really like the Marvin products, the lowest bid I could get was in the $60,000 range for the Integrity/Infinity line. I have decided to go with Andersen which was almost half the price although not exactly apples to apples with the earlier quotes.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 3:17PM
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you never did say and I didn't see where anyone asked the important question of what the exterior of your is made of.
This can affect the installation costs greatly and can make or break the leak integrity of the installation.. You are so worried about the cost here when you should be worried about how they will install windows to make them water tight. JMHO

It kills me to see this window companies just screwing the windows in without a fin and trusting caulk for the whole water seal... I would advise you to ask questions about how they will integrate the new windows properly into the water barrier system of the house.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 9:44AM
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There is a big difference in price between replacement windows, which are made to fit the opening and not disturb the interior or exterior trim, and new construction windows, which may not fit your opening exactly. We put on an addition and were replacing the siding, so we went with new construction windows for the existing house. My contractor was surprised at the price difference -- replacement was about 1 1/2 times the price of new construction.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 8:16PM
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Yes, I would say you are being zipcoded. I have over 10 years experince in selling window s the prices you mentioned seem high, unless
they are quoting you the windows installed and finished on the interior.

There is quite a lot you need to understand about windows before you talk to someone about pricing. First, be very careful of Pella and
any other roll formed clad window. The roll formed cladding traps moisture against the wood sash and rots them prematurely. You should
stick to an extruded clad wood window or move to a fiberglass or vinyl, given your location.

You also need to consider the long term implications of Energy Star qualifications, SHGC, Visible Light transmission and how these
relate to daylighting and energy usage. Since we spend about 30% of our energy budget, understanding these issues could save you a
bundle of money over the long term.

I would start with Efficient Windows.org. From there I would see this web page that explains how these
factors interrelate:
Solar Heat Gain (SHGC), Visible Light Transmission (Vt), U-Value and

After that, make sure that you get pricing for Loewen windows (made in your area) and a few more Marvin dealers. These days most
manufacturers will make custom sizes without a large increase in cost for the cusom size. If you get that as an excuse from the salesman
just tell him games overs and move on.

With the businees in such poor shape these days, you are in control, do not be afraid to move on to another source. Get 50 prices if you
need to, but get educated first and understand what you are buying and get a thorough, complete written specification and scope of work
from the contractor to make sure that he is quoting you the right thing and not setting you up for a giant change-order.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY Green Home Improvement

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 5:37PM
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One other thing, Hung windows and sliding windows are less expensive, typically, however, compared to a casement window, the air infiltration rating will be 3-4 times that of a good quality casement window. The increased air infiltration will destroy your savings and cost you much more in energy consumption.

Here is a link that might be useful: Green Building Objectives Explained

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 5:42PM
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That's a little high, but not outrageous. SDL's and arch top stuff is quite pricey when it comes to a wood window. Installation is what it is, don't go cheap there, you will regret it.

I'd buy the Marvin's before the Milgard.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 7:09PM
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It comes down to you, if you feel the price is right then you will feel good about your purchase, if purchase thinking your getting ripped off then I am sure you are. As was mentioned many times on here it all depends on what you are buying.SDL in Arch tops is about the most expensive add on to anyone's window line bar none with the exeception of gothic lites. So you really need to review apples to apples to get your correct answer.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 2:31PM
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You said that you used Andersen 40 series windows. Were they Woodwright windows? If so, I'd be interested in knowing how the exterior and windows overall are holding up. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 12:23AM
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