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Discussion Starter #1
For those of you that built your homes, what percentage of the overall construction budget was put towards windows?

I have been looking at all brands of windows and I can't get past the sticker shock! We are looking at all wood or aluminum clad for our traditional farmhouse construction.

I did receive a good quote from an online company, Avalon Wood Windows ( http://www.avalonwindows.com ) out of Houston, Texas. They came in with quotes well below Loewen, Pella, Andersen, Jeld-Wen and others. Plus, there's no sales tax. Just shipping costs. And, up here were the sales tax is over 8%, that's a nice savings!

Anybody familiar with Avalon Windows? Do you have any brands you personally recommend?
 

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Joy, A few years ago I did a major comparison of my own on windows particularly related to efficiency. The conclusion was that the R factor of the best of the best was not any better or as good as a conventional window with a quality storm window. That said, now some additional findings were that most all manufacturers use the same technique to meet energy needs. I have owned property with Pella and with Anderson, each had some feature that I liked over the other but really nothing that gave a good justification for the price. The most recent window that I have used with full satisfaction was a Hurd. The Hurd window design has a feature with a layered film installed between the 2 pieces of glass. In the south the windows are installed to where the film rejects the solar gain and in the north the opposite. This feature is saving enough money on the utility bill for me to pay for the windows over a number of years. The cost to A/C the home is surprising low.
To answer your question .....approximately 4 percent of the costs of the house went into the purchase of the windows.
 

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I went on line to Consumer Reports and read their studies on the different kinds of windows and the savings they found. It varies based on where you live and the climate.

Based on that, we ended up going with metal frame double pane windows with LowE coatings at a cost of about 3% of our budget, and about a fourth of what low end Pella would have cost. As for vinyl, I studied all the articles in Fine Homebuilding and decided against vinyl of any kind in our house.
 

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We used Marvin wood windows in our new home. These have the green metal clad on the exterior of the window. They are double-pane and energy efficient. The price for a "typical" double-hung window was about $350.
 

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If you find windows to be a major portion of your budget, you might try different salvage houses. Habitat For Humanity is one. It's hit and miss but they generally have good quality, new windows at great prices. The were special orders that were the wrong size or whatever. The last house I built I designed around surplus windows I bought before I finalized the house plans. I had lots of huge windows for about $350.00 total. If you have flexability and some time you'll save big and often get a window that you normally couldn't afford. Good luck!
 

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HFH and other recycling places can be great if you're not looking for a certain size.

Quality windows are quite an investment, so you should do lots of research and comparision shop LOTS. When we moved here (see my post in the 'what's your place like thread'), we had a total of 48 windows, 45 of which need replacing. We've replaced 14 so far, eliminated 7, and still have quite a few to go.

I was concerned about price, but willing to pay more for better efficiency- better in the long run.

I will only use vinyl frames/sashes. But then, we're in a pretty cold climate, and most of the vinyl designs perform better. From the environmental point of view, I think window frames which will last for ages are a very suitable use of vinyl! I will only use SuperSpacers or some other synthetic spacer design- no metal! Better thermal performance, most noticeable by the lack of condensation around the edges of the panes, and they will last longer (supposedly).

I did two small windows in double-glazed, Low E2 films plus argon filled. They're small and in an area not heavily heated. These were WindowCity brand. Cheapest I could find for pretty good quality, but they really don't compare to the others.

The other 12 I did in triple glazed, Low E2 films plus argon filled. Some are quite large. These were Vinylbuilt brand. They've been great, and I'd certainly recommend them. Expensive compared to the WindowCity ones, but you get what you pay for. And, much cheaper than comparable models from other brands. I shopped around ALOT, however. Initial pricing from other companies was 50-100% more than what I ended up paying for comparable products. Try to get contractor pricing if you can, as mark ups can be high.

Triple-glazed does cost more but it isn't double. Efficiency is way higher, plus the sound transmission is much less. This was a major concern for us since we live next to a highway that sees an annual average of 30000 cars per day. Any other windows I replace will be triple-glazed.

Have a professional install one or two so you can learn how, or attend a seminar. You can do it easily once you learn. Be sure to use expanding polyurethane foam (not the triple expanding stuff or you'll bow the frames) around the frames to seal them- don't just stuff fibreglass into the cracks!

Note that the brands I used are Canadian; doubt they're available in the US.

Good luck,

Jeff Hathaway
 

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When Melitza and I build our home we bought most of our windows and doors at an auction. Total price was $12.00! I did have to build one door myself. I made a french door using finish grade two by four and two by six for the frame and made the "frames" for the glass panes with 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch lap jointed.

You can also go to "salvage yards" that specialize in used construction materials and save quite a bit of money if you don't mind scrounging around.

Ernest
 

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IM of the same school as Simpleman. All the windows in our house came from a salvage yard. I think the most I spent was 80 dollars for 8 sets of old casement windows that are 5 foot squares. Ive used them all over the house in various combinations. Most of my windows are single pane, but Ive caulked them all well and will put up old fashioned storm windows on those that take the brunt of winter weather. New windows and doors were just not an option. I think the only new windows in the house were 3 matching barn sash I put in the kitchen and they were a discontinued item on sale. I think the mismatched old windows make the house look older as if it was built in bit and pieces over the years as fashions changed. I really hate cheap new windows in a house that all match. they make me think of cheap suites of furniture all matchy match. But thats just me. ;)
 

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If I was building a house on a tight and relatively low budget, I would find bargain building materials first, then design a house around what I have. Salvage yards are just a start. Demolition companies can also be a source. Building material auctions are fairly common around these parts. Go to every one you can and take a trailer. You may find bargains on just about anything - HVAC systems, cabinets, doors, windows, electrical/plumbing supplies and fixtures, roofing, etc. Rent a storage building if you have to to keep it until you build. Anything left over after you build can be sold fairly easily the same way. Good luck.
 

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When we turned our attic into a few bedrooms and a living room space, the sticker shock on the special half moon window kept me up that night. $500 without any grids! Next morning I went into town and went to the Builder's Surplus store. Found one 3 inches larger with grids for $80. Called the contractor and it was sold. They hadn't cut any holes and built around the new dimension. We get all kinds of comments on that window. The moon hits it perfectly on many nights and it is stunning.

We got our other windows fairly cheaply by ordering direct from the manufacturer as if we were contractors (which we aren't but we ran our job site, so to speak).

Good luck, but look everywhere!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks all! I'm heading into town tomorrow and will stop by a couple of salvage shops. I would love to just find some old windows and restore them. I was thiinking that my windows would come close to 15% of my total budget. I'm encouraged to see that some of you have done yours substantially less! That gives me hope!!!
 
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