Rule of thumb for window $ vs. House $?

pam29011November 21, 2011

We have a Cape that was built in the early 1960's. It will be cute once we add dormers to the front & when we do that we plan to replace the original windows. Currently they are wood, single pane, with triple-track storms on the outside.

Different contractors have had different thoughts on the windows. First guy suggested Marvin with SDL. Second contractor said Marvin is a great window, but 2x the price of Pella which is a fine window. Third contractor didn't ask what kind of windows we were thinking of, and 4th contractor comes in tomorrow to check out the job. Hopefully we will be done interviewing contractors :)

So I was wondering - is there a rule of thumb for how much to spend on windows vs. house cost? Our house is probably in the 65th or 70th percentile for our town (slightly above median) and our town is in the 30th to 40th percentile for our part of the state (below average, but not horrible). All the towns that surround us have the same or higher $/sq foot (and much higher taxes). But 2 towns over are a couple towns that are a lot cheaper $/sq foot (and higher crime).

So, we're in a reasonably nice house in a not-top-tier town that's still a nice place to live. And since we're 25 miles outside of Boston, median sales price in our town is still around $300k (yeah, for a school district that's 150th out of 350 schools in the state). I never plan to move, I like it here. It's a good mix of blue & white collar people. Our 8 yr old Hondas fit right in :)

I want windows that will last as long as these have & are more energy efficient & look good. But I don't want to do the housing equivalent of putting $2,000 rims on a $1,500 car, either ;)

So ... any rule of thumb for picking good windows that look good, last a long time, and fit the value of our house?



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"Marvin is a great window, but 2x the price of Pella", I don't know what series Pella he is speaking of but if the cost of Marvin is truly double it is guaranteed to be a very low end window. I would stay away from Pella in any series, their products are in my opinion mediocre at best. If you do a search on this site or Google in general you will find Pella has had and continues to have many quality control and service related issues.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 8:46AM
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Well, 4th contractor came out today & said, "I can get you a clad Andersen window for about $450, but Marvin will charge $750 for the same size."

He also said that having interior AND exterior grilles will add a LOT of money to each window (even without simulated divided lite bars in between the glass).

I need to go on a window-learning expedition, I think. I know I want a grille on the inside & outside of the windows, I looked at tons of windows on the drive home today & I'm 99% sure I don't want to go with between-the-glass grilles.

Thanks for the advice on Pella, I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 9:32PM
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Simulated Divided Lights (SDL) do get pricey, as far as have them without spacers in the glass I personally think that looks cheap and is pretty obvious when you get close to a house. My suggestion would be to use SDL's on the front of the house and sides only if they are visible from the street. As far as your contractor telling quoting from his head like that I would have him get a formal quote for both types of windows and then make your decision.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 7:57AM
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