Buying Replacement windows

Where Can You Buy DIY Replacement Windows?

Question:Where Can You Buy DIY Replacement Windows?

I read one of your articles on replacement windows and not going with the big guys (Pella, Marvin, Andersen)... I got a few quotes for replacing my old wood windows with new vinyl windows. Roughly ten grand for 18 windows. I'm a do-it-yourself guy and I want to install them myself. I've been to Home Depot & Menards and one window goes for about $200, but I was wondering if there was a way to buy the windows for less than that. Do you know if it's possible to buy direct from a window factory/manufacturer? Do you have any other suggestions?

Answer: Replacement windows dramatically cut energy costs, and by installing them yourself, you save even more money. After all, who doesn't want to cut costs?

First, let's clarify one thing: you don't want to purchase new-construction windows:

New Construction vs. Replacement Windows

Make sure that the $200 window you found is not a new-construction window. I'll bet that's what you're seeing. New-construction windows fit into new openings and have integrated fins for nailing against a house.

A replacement window is a completely different product, and is harder for consumers to obtain on the open market. It has no fins. It fits directly into an existing opening from which the previous window has been removed.

Why Can't You Buy Replacement Windows-Only?

Your $10, 000 quote for 18 windows? That comes to around $555 per window. That sounds about par for the course.

I am convinced that the replacement window industry is like that scene in The Godfather when competing Mafia families get together and agree to cooperate-for the better good of all of them. It's like the replacement window industry is controlled by a handful of people greedily rubbing their hands together to see how much money they can squeeze from homeowners.

And one inspired way to maximize profit is to lock homeowners into an inescapable track where they harness purchase of the windows to purchase of installation. They're saying, "Want windows? Well, then you've got to buy our installation, too."

1. Purchase Them Online

When I first looked into this issue six years ago, there were no online options for purchasing DIY replacement windows. Recently I found a company in Austin, Texas, Window E-Store (link below), that is making inroads in getting replacements out to homeowners. I spoke to owner Derek Baker about his company.

Originally Baker began the site as an ordering tool for his contractor clients. Then he discovered homeowners coming onto the site and using the tool. Now, among other things, Window E-Store sells replacement windows to homeowners in 38 states. Their windows are all made in factories in California, West Virginia, and Illinois.

I compare the site to the fast-moving growth of the RTA (ready-to-assemble) cabinet industry. Not long ago, you could not order RTA cabinets online. Then RTA came online, but ordering was a pain. You can to fax in handwritten orders or call.

Window E-Store's ordering system rivals some of the better RTA sites. Check off your option (options are identified with both text and images) and the order form automatically opens to the next option. When you get down far enough, a running cost total appears on the right side. The only part to manually enter is the window dimensions.

I priced out 2-lite vinyl sliders in white, no grid, each 35 1/4" x 59 1/4". Cost per window came to $339.26. Total cost for ten windows came to $3, 392.55.

Regarding that total, you might say: "Well, of course. Ten times $339 is..." I say: Not so fast. Shipping, tax, and other markups often result in totals that are wildly different from predicted costs (that's why I say to majorly factor that into your RTA cabinet estimates).

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