What does 'construction-grade' mean?

laschleeAugust 16, 2006

My move to a condo has coincided with a big window reinstallation project for the entire subdivision. I know absolutely nothing about replacing windows, types of windows, etc., and possibly $2500 is a reasonable price to pay for replacing a sliding glass door. What puzzles me is the company making a big deal about the windows being "construction-grade." What does "construction-grade" mean? Is it the same as "builder's-grade?" I would tell these people no thanks, except that I'm kinda freaked about the obviously mildewed floor in front of the sliding glass door (allergies) and the living room window has a crack in it -- not so alluring when you're planning to resell.

Besides the fact that the samples we were shown were incredibly ugly, are "construction-grade" windows a good idea, or should I tell them to take a hike and get my own installation quotes?

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We are in SF Bay Area in CA and two years ago, we asked the same question and the answer below is a summary of what our shop and the GC said. I hope someone else can post too to verify or dispute what we heard.

Local codes dictate various window parameters so new home builders must install windows that meet the code. Same for replacement windows. While all windows must meet local code, qualities do vary so shoppers beware.

"Construction-grade Window" as it is used here loosely refers to windows ordered by builders. Builders of new "mass mkt" homes have a lot of say in what goes into a home so they decide type, brand, looks and so on. Custom home builders work more closely with architects and owners so they do not always just use "construction-grade".

"Construction-Grade" therefore does not imply better quality. Some construction grade are high quality with great lifetime warranty, some are just bad Aluminum windows. Our house came with "construction-grade" Aluminum double-pane clear glazing, they were cheap and leaked and absolultely disgusting.

In our case, they suggested that we first decide if we were just using replacement windows or using new construction window (not the same as construction-grade). In the former, only interior of window is removed and replacement parts reinstalled. In the latter, GC will completely remove the old window leaving a big hole in the wall to receive a brand new complete window. Once we decided which way to go, the next step was to decide which type and brand and so on.

We heard the term "Construction-grade" used by a GC we interviewed and he recommended Weathershield Vinyl. Because we did not want to use Vinyl, and we decided to use another GC, we never pursued the "Construction-Grade" path further. We did ask the shop and GC who did all the work so they explained the term to us.

Hope this helps a bit.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 10:29PM
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construction grade, builder grade - interchangeable terms.


$2500 is not at all unreasonable to replace a sliding glass door - if it is a reasonable quality product. A top-end door can cost several times that amount

You can also go to a big box and buy a sliding glass door for less than $300 on sale...that is construction grade.

Paying $2500 for a construction grade sliding glass door is not reasonable - I would investigate other options.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 8:28AM
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One thing about prices. As Oberon said, a good door can cost several times more. The following is our experience when we were getting quotes all over.

Vinyl sliding doors from Milgard for a 10' x 7'+ rough opening ran only $2500 installed. We opted for a Marvin Ultimate AL clad wood interior 3 pane French Door and that ran us $5000+ for just the door (with options), installation was extra. Both doors use Low-E II coating, both use tempered glass but Marvin came with Argon gas standard.

Another shop that sells Marvin quoted us $6000 for the same door, so you do have to shop around.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 7:13PM
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If the windows are being replaced watch for condo fees to rise DRAMATICALLY to pay for the replacements.

I'd ask the association what is meant by that. Could be the cheapest possible POS.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 7:24PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

"construction-grade" means - disposable product after 2 years.

How did we get there? The buyer seeking to grind down the price has resulted in an inferior product to meet their budget. However, the buyers have forgotten how to compare value to "a great deal". A great deal today simply means you paid the lowest possible price and got the lowest possible quality!

I am replacing entry doors and patio doors in houses that are less than 5 years old. This time, their doors will last as long as the house!

Why shouldn't you buy construction grade? Assume you pay $500 for an average entry door and the install is $600. Two years later you pay another $500 and another $600 install. And on and on over 30 years. Do this. Pay $2,500 for a quality door and install and own it for the life of the house.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 9:31AM
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