Things to check when comparing your window quotes
If you have requested quotes from a number of window suppliers, you might be concerned about why all the prices are all so different. Surely, they should be the same, if everyone is quoting for the same job. Why might there be differences in the prices you have received?
If you are hoping to have new doors and windows fitted in your home, then obtaining quotes from a number of joinery specialists is going to be the first step. It is natural that you will want to get a feel for the different manufacturers on the market and consider your options first. What do you do, if suppliers provide you with quotes that all have considerable variations? Understanding how window quotes are generally calculated can help you to make a decision with confidence.
Make sure that you have provided all prospective window companies with clear, specific instructions. The more detailed information you provide, the more accurate the quotes you are likely to receive. This will also ensure that all the companies are pricing for the same work and that there are no discrepancies between quotes. Always check to make sure the quotes feature the correct number of products and additional items. This ensures that suppliers have not miscounted or left anything out.
Read our helpful guide to help you look through your quotes with clarity, and understand what you need to check to ensure that you are choosing a reputable firm to work with.
Quality over everything else…
Some suppliers may try to provide you with a lower initial estimate in order to get your business. Yet once the work begins, you might find that they throw in additional material costs which results in you paying a higher price than you were expecting. To be clear, check that the manufacturer has provided you with a fixed price, based on a drawing or specification with the accompanying terms and conditions, before you agree to anything. Look at whether the company is clear about their warranties and whether they can tell you the life expectancy of their products, along with the materials used to produce them. One company may provide a cheaper quote than another for a timber window for example, but they may well be using lesser grades of timber which will affect the product’s performance.
Some companies may charge a lower price if their workload is low, and there is not much demand for their services. This could indicate that there is a quiet period in the market in general, but it could also be a red flag. If a company offers you a speedy lead-time and a cheap price, it might mean that they do not have much work on because other customers know to steer clear. A reputable supplier that produces good quality products will always be in demand.
The proof is in the materials…
A cheap window is not the same thing as a window that offers value for money. Products constructed from uPVC will be considerably cheaper than products made from quality materials like engineered timber. Mass-produced uPVC windows might be more affordable, but they are not necessarily low maintenance and will not have a particularly long lifespan. The material will discolour over the years from exposure to the sun’s UV rays. They also lack the classic, elegant aesthetics that timber windows have, and come at a cost to the environment.
Windows and doors constructed from a superior engineered timber will also result in exceptionally low thermal conductivity, and Accoya is a great example of this. It is an innovative material produced from fast-growing, sustainably sourced Radiata Pine. These trees only take 28 years to grow, making it a highly sustainable option in comparison to hardwoods like Oak. The pine undergoes a process that compresses and bonds thin slices, rotating the grain by 90˚ at each layer. This cross-lamination gives Accoya up to 75% greater dimensional stability than solid hardwoods. The timber undergoes a process called acetylation, which re-plumps the cells of the cut lumber, making it harder and termite resistant.
While a uPVC window has a service life up to 25 years, a window made from modified wood such as Accoya will come with a guaranteed service life of 50 years. There is evidence to suggest that a well maintained, high-quality timber frame, particularly one coated with a durable long-life paint such as Teknos, can last over a century. We will explore paint options further along in this article.
The style of a window…
A well-designed and attractive window is one that is perfectly balanced in terms of proportion, shape, and colour. If you are getting a quote for a standard, off-the-shelf window, then you should, of course, assume that the price would reflect this. If you are going down the route of installing a bespoke window in a less common design, perhaps like a decorative Cartwheel, Palladian or Box Sash window, then this will again affect the price. You can opt for either traditional box cords & weights, or pre-tensioned heavy-duty spring balances, which hold the window open. There is a big cost difference between a weighted box sash window and a spring-balanced sash window. If you are fitting them throughout your property, the difference may well be considerable.
Glazing and U-Values…
You want to feel reassured that you are investing in products that will keep the heat inside your home and keep your energy bills down. Not all glazing performs in the same way, so you are not going to get windows with the same insulation performance from every supplier. Some companies fill their glazing with krypton gas, for example, and others might use argon gas, both of which are denser than air and therefore provide additional insulation.
Check a window’s thermal performance by looking at its U-Value, which is also sometimes referred to as its U-Factor. Any reputable window company should be able to inform you of their product’s U-Value through proper performance testing. This will indicate you how much heat and energy a window will let through. U-Values are a measurement of a material’s insulation efficiency, and the lower the number, the better the energy efficiency is. Unfortunately, this information can still be misleading, as many companies will only choose to promote the U-Value of the window’s centre pane, which is inevitably going to be better than that of the whole product. Look at the U-Value of the whole product, which will take into account the frame’s thermal performance.
Do you have a new build home?
If you are having windows installed into a new build property, then the supplier should be providing you with windows that meet current New Build Part Q building regulations. Products should be able to perform to good standards in a range of areas, from security and ventilation, to escape access. Locks on windows and doors will need to have passed PAS24 testing. For replacement windows in period homes, especially if the property is located in a conservation area for example, this is not necessarily required, but other more specific regulations may still apply. Some companies will quote for different thickness of laminated glass, but thinner glazing profiles, like Westbury’s Legacy and Classique options, are better suited to listed properties or those in conservation areas.
Those important extras all add up…
Ironmongery: This includes everything from handles and locks to window hinges. High-quality materials that are well looked after will always create a lasting impression. They should function smoothly and effortlessly while feeling sturdy and secure.
Paint: If you have opted for timber windows, then paint is so much more than a complementary colour. When the window has the right paint system is applied in the correct way, then it benefits from a protective barrier that helps to extend the lifespan of your windows. Water-based microporous paints like Teknos will help your windows to endure weather conditions, moisture ingress, exposure to high levels of UV and bacteria. Ask the manufacturer if they can tell you more about their painting process; if they know what they are doing, then they should pre-sand all of their products before painting. Products that are spray-painted will have a thicker and more effective layer than those painted with a brush. Ideally, three coats should leave you with a quality finish.
Design details: Period homes, in particular, will also be in need of windows that include bespoke, unique details. If your quote includes additional cill details or decorative moulding for example, then this will require specialist joinery skills that will be reflected in your quotes.
Is the installer a FENSA member?
Once you have selected your manufacturer, you then need to select an installer. To ensure that your installation work is being carried out to a high standard, check to see if your selected contractor is a FENSA member – FENSA is the largest and most trusted scheme for replacement window and door installers, trusted by local authorities, the industry itself and the government. FENSA regularly inspect their members are to ensure consistency and that the relevant building regulations are adhered to.