I am not looking for advice, just documenting my experience for future members.
I looked at both big box (Home Depot) and local contractors. I replaced my windows (31 in total), porch rails/posts,soffit, siding, fascia, gutters, and garage doors. The house is brick 1 1/2 story 4 bdrm,3 bath, 2500 sq ft (finished upstairs) with 4 shed dormers, 4 gable ends. It is quite complex as a design with over 25 corners as it juts in and out.
Conclusion: (for those that don't want to read the whole thing).
I went with a local certified installer and am glad I did. The price was better, quality of the window (5500 vs HD 6100) is better, and the installation and attention to detail is as good as I can ask for.
I did pick HD to install my garage doors. That decision has bit me already and the doors don't get installed for two more days. I wish I had selected a local contractor for those as well.
Windows and siding:
After I researched I decided on Simonton 5500 windows due to both price and product quality/reviews and many opinions from this site. My son found a person who was a member of his sport bike club. The person had put up an ad that he could offer a discount on Simonton windows if they were ordered by July 1st. We contacted him and asked him to bid on the job. He calculated 29 double hung windows, 2 picture windows, 14 sq of siding, 538 ft of trim (soffit fascia) and 190 ft of gutter. He said he would also replace the railings and vinyl the front porch for free if we bought the materials, plus install 3 doors (two on outside sheds, one new storm on the front porch) as part of the package.
31 Simonton 5500 windows installed: $13000
Siding, soffit, trim for rest of house: $13700
Total for job: $26700
(he predicted he would bring in the job for $5000-$7000 lower than HD).
My son also called Home Depot since I was in NY at the time. They came out and the salesman was a jerk to say the least. Upon arriving he stated to my son "Well, you haven't done any maintenance on this place in 25 yrs." This wasn't true, but so what. I ended up calling his manager to tell him about his salesman's strange way of getting customers to like him.
Anyway, he quoted the Simonton 6100 window, siding, soffit/fascia, no front porch, new gutters, no extra door installations.
Windows: - $14500
Siding/Soffit/Fascia - $18000
Gutters - $ 2000
Total - $34500
After I called the manager and complained about the comments (there were actually a few statements he made), the manager called me back and offered to take $5000 off the price, which made the price $29500 vs $26700 for the local guy. The manager was quite good, understood my concerns, addressed them (the salesman called me and my son to apologize), and helped influence my decision in a positive direction.
I had a few questions such as: What is a 6100 vs a 5500, quality of installation, etc.
Simonton 5500 vs 6100 vs 6500 - The Simonton 6100 is a crossbred window. It is the 5050 frame with the 3/4" glass used in the 5500. The 6500 is the 5500 frame with 7/8" glass (an upgrade for the base 5500). So, the stock HD 6100 window frame isn't as good as the Simonton 5500 and it allows a price point for HD to bid LowE/argon windows.
Strike 1 against HD - window quality was less, not bad per-se, just less.
Installation - I have read the horror stories here about big box installs, so I knew it was a crap shoot on the crew, how well they do, etc. So, I worked the other end, called the references for the other, check BBB, etc.
No BBB complaints in 17 yrs, I really expected one or two. Their references were pretty solid. I would expect positive references but they have several who own businesses, multiple homes, and will only use them because of the quality of their work. I was told that they address any concerns and work with them to solve any issues. I found that on a few different calls.
+1 for the Local guys...
So, my wife, son and I sat down and decided to go with the local guys.
I can tell a few things about these guys. One, they do quality work, have great attention to detail. I have been contacted on every potential issue and worked through solutions. The windows were installed quickly, but he explained how he was doing them and I actually watched while they were being installed.
Two - they ask every day if there are any concerns or anything I would like done differently, redone, anything at all. I have addressed a couple of items that are on the punch list for this week.
Three - Since the temps have been so high here (many days over 100), they have been working mornings. I am fine with that because they work efficiently, it's a crew of two (a father who is 62 and his son 37), they keep the job site clean and are very courteous. I think they will finish this week.
Four - the contractor for the gutters seems very good as well. He came out on Saturday for this Monday's installation. He proposed a few changes to the gutters, explained why and was courteous as well.
I have been quite happy about selecting them so far and based on my experience with just the garage door installation from HD, glad I didn't go that way.
The garage door fiasco -
I used HD for the garage doors. They had a sale on Clopay doors, so I decided to have them installed. I bought steel insulated (R18) doors, openers and chose to have them installed.
The problem occurred during ordering, Clopay put through a change to the website they run for HD. All orders flow to Clopay, they feed these back to HD. HD arranges installation through local vendors. The vendors contact the customer and set up the installation, verify the order, etc.
The first thing that should pop into your mind is WHY do I need to know all of this in order to buy 2 garage doors and have them installed? Good question.
Well, the order showed me 2 garage doors, 2 openers, but the price was wrong. It only had one opener based on the pricing (I calculated $3k, it was about $2.4K on the order. I called Clopay and told them they had a problem. The person verified it, but said I needed to go to the local store to have the additional opener added to my order. There was nothing they could do. I went down to the store, but the order didn't show in HD's system. Clopay hadn't passed it after a week. It actually took almost 3 weeks before it showed up in HD's system. However, when it did, they confirmed 2 openers, no need to do anything. I was suspicious, especially since it was $500 light on the bill. The installer sent out a guy to measure and verify everything I had ordered. He said he had 2 openers, 2 doors to install. We discussed where the openers would mount (they mount on the wall with the door, not using a track). He said "in about 1.5 weeks, you'll get a call."
Four weeks go by and nothing. I called them. The order had shipped, arrived at the installer but the installer hadn't contacted me to install yet. They called the installer and the installer called me within 5 min. The installer said "we have 2 garage doors and one opener to install." Ugh.
Bottom line is it took almost 2 days of phone calls, constant follow up and finally another $500 payment to get the second opener. The installation is supposed to be tomorrow, but I haven't heard back from the installer so I don't know when to expect them or if they will have the additional opener in hand when they arrive. Clopay was supposed to expedite it according to HD.
Again, I wish I had chosen a local guy for this job as well. It would be done by now and with so much less hassle.
I will update this thread during the week. I expect this week the siding to conclude, the gutters to be up and the garage doors to be installed.