Fixing a Botched Installation Job
Reinstall or Sell All New Windows?
by Tara Taffera
If you’re in the door or window business I’m sure your friends
and family ask you door and window questions fairly frequently. “My window
is leaking.” “My glass is fogging.” “I’m replacing my windows—what type
should I buy?” This is your business so I’m sure you don’t mind helping
them find the best solutions. The same thing happens to me and I wanted
to share a situation I encountered recently. And at the end I want you
to tell me: If you were the contractor called to this house, what would
you have done?
One of my neighbors is a good friend and running buddy, and during one
of our recent morning runs she told me about her window dilemma. Her house
is only six years old, and we both live in the same development. She’s
noticed “leaky” windows for several months. A contractor friend of hers
told her the window installer never taped the windows, which is why she
has also noticed water intrusion. Well, the situation exploded, so to
speak, during Hurricane Irene in late August, which brought heavy rains
to many states, including Virginia. Her carpets were soaked due to all
the rain that came through several of the windows. She contacted a few
different contractors for ideas on how to solve the problem and I asked
if I could pop in and observe.
Window Company Number 1
She scheduled an appointment with a big-name remodeler and all that rep
wanted to do was sell her new windows. (This company also does siding
and told her the siding she has is of inferior quality and she should
replace that as well.) The quote for nine windows was $19,000.
The sales rep, dressed very professionally, began with the sales pitch
but didn’t look at the windows until an hour or so later and didn’t offer
a whole lot of solutions. After disclosing who I was, I did ask him: “Is
there anything that can be done to save these windows?” He simply replied,
“Well, I certainly shouldn’t be in a house that is only six years old.”
But still he left the $19,000 quote with the homeowner.
Window Company Number 2
Contractor number two also offered windows and siding, along with roofing.
But unlike number one, this contractor was a small local, family-owned
company serving the Northern Virginia area. I should disclose that the
owner of company number two is married to the homeowner’s cousin in this
The contractor came to the house in jeans and a T-shirt, climbed on his
ladder and started assessing the situation. He summed it up this way:
The installer used Tyvek tape instead of window tape. The windows were
nailed to the Tyvek instead of the substrate. “We’re looking at new Tyvek
[for portions of the siding the homeowner removed] and labor,” he said.
“We also need to install four pieces of J-Channel.”
“They did it all backwards,” added the contractor. “The siding is fine
and the windows are fine. We want to take everything down and do it the
The End Result
Which contractor do you think my friend chose? Yes, it was contractor
two. Her windows and siding have now been put back together and installed
correctly. Virginia has had some killer rains in the past few months and
she reports that all is well—no leakage through the windows.
I’m also curious to hear how often your company pitches new windows to
owners of relatively new homes. During another run, about a year before,
this same friend told me that a representative of one of the top five
window companies knocked on her door to sell her new windows. I remember
being pretty surprised that a window company would target a new housing
development. Although I am not happy with our current windows and wish
more efficient ones had been installed (we installed window film to help
block some of the sun’s rays), I surely won’t be buying new windows anytime
soon if I can help it.
Do you target homes less than ten years old if you know your windows can
improve energy efficiency for the homeowner? If yes, how do you get over
that initial stumbling block and the mentality of homeowners like me?
Are “Paycheck Collectors” on Your Payroll?
Contractor number two, a replacement window company, had some great
insights to share regarding the differences among replacement and new
construction installers. He told me that he is so disheartened with
new construction installers that he flat-out won’t hire them.
| “In new construction, installers don’t care. In 365 days, the builder
[and installer] knows he can wipe his hands of that house. I give a
longer warranty. It’s my name on the line,” he says.
He talked to me about the differences in remodeling and new construction.
“The biggest problem is that the window installers are unsupervised,”
he adds. “There is a builder sitting in a trailer somewhere down the
road who may ride by every once in a while but really there is no accountability.”
“I don’t hire paycheck collectors,” he adds. “You know what they care
What are your thoughts on new construction versus replacement installers?
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What Would You Have Done?
(Choose all that apply.)
__ I would have quoted new windows.
__ I would have looked at the damage and how the windows were installed
before I sat down for my one-hour sales pitch.
__I would have fixed the problem as contractor number two suggested.
__None of the above. Please state your solution.
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