How do I choose a window & door contractor?

Finding the right window & door installers.
When you're installing new windows and doors in your home, a few simple guidelines will help you choose the right contractor and avoid the pains -- or panes -- of a job gone bad.

  • Set a budget: Work out a budget and stick to it. No matter how breathtaking your new windows or doors may be, they're not worth it if you're looking through them from the poor house.

  • Know what you want: Tour your local home improvement wholesaler to get a general education. At the end of your informal research, make sure you know what style doors or windows you want in your own home and what materials were used to make them.

    Do you want sliding glass doors or French doors? Would you like single or triple-paned glass in your windows? Perhaps tempered glass or a low-emittance feature?

  • Consider buying the windows or doors yourself: When you're browsing a home improvement store, take notice of the prices of the windows and doors it sells. It's quite possible to save money by buying the doors, windows and frames yourself, depending on how much an installer would charge for the line and style you want.

    If you'd like to buy the windows and doors yourself, find out if prospective installers you've found on would be willing to use windows or doors that you provide. If so, always ask how this would affect guarantees or warranties on the installation.

  • Look for specialty window & door contractors: Contact contractors and installers who specialize in windows and doors. See these profiles of window and door installers in your area. A poorly-hung door or improperly-installed window can bring down your home's value and raise your energy bills, so it's best to use a contractor who specializes in this type of work.

  • Check the door & window installer's references: Ask installers how long they have been in business and be sure to obtain references. Former clients can rate the installer's work, work ethic and customer service for you.

  • Review a sample contract or template: Make sure any contract you sign includes a specific description of the work to be done, a payment schedule, a start date and an estimated completion date.

    Look at samples of the installer's work. Examine them and decide whether or not you would be happy with the same quality windows or doors in your home.

  • Confirm the installer's insurance: A prospective window or door installer should have at least three kinds of insurance: personal liability, worker's compensation and property damage.

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