replacing a casement window
I'm going to be redoing the kitchen and want to replace the window above the sink. It's an old single-pane double casement window, 38" wide by 37" high (measured from jamb to jam). Now, there's also a wooden piece in the middle. So I'm not sure if this piece is supposed to come out or if I shd be looking for 2 single windows instead.
I got a quote from Lowe's for an Atrium-Reliabilt, but am getting confused in trying to look up the company and learn about replacement windows in general. There are those who say never to go w/ the big box stores because they do low-quality work. On the other hand, we're not replacing all the windows--only 1. So it seems like a lot of trouble to try to find local contractors to come out and do a bid, and I frankly doubt we'd get much interest for a ~$350 window.
So, anyone have any opinions on replacement window brands? Does the center thing that the window locks are on get removed when putting in a new window, or does it mean I get 2 smaller winsows instead of one big one? Is this something I can do myself? I've re-tiled the bathtub and built a simple pergola in the backyard.
Thanks for your help!