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· Registered
64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy all!

I have a 1974 home here in south Austin (Texas) and I am wanting to replace all 9 windows in the house. They are currently aluminum windows with aluminum storm windows added on top. I want to install new vinyl windows to improve the look and energy eqffecianecy of the house.

There are a total of 9 windows (11 windows if you count the two sets of bay windows in the back as separate windows) of various sizes. All are in vinyl siding except for two of them which are in brick. (I have attached a few photos just to give you an idea of the scope of the project.)

My original plan was to DIY the whole project over several years (one window every few months), however as I dove deeper into the project I realized how much work it would be. Most specifically the current windows are about 2" thick but the new windows will be 3.25" thick. Therefore we will need to cut into the drywall and the wooden sill to make the window fit. That sounds like a lot of work and a lot of potential for things to go wrong.

Due to this extra work I decided to get quotes on what it would take to have someone else do it. For example Lowe's said that they could do the install for approximately $2700 ($300/window, on average). Would it be worth it to pay someone that much to get this all done at one time? I am a novice DIYer, but I am not afraid to tackle projects if I think I can save some money and get the project done. (I also have a friend who replaced all of the windows in his house, he would walk me through the first few windows... however he didn't have to worry about the depth problem like I do.)

I got several quotes from professional windows companies in the area and I wasn't surprised that they were priced higher than Lowe's, however looking at the quotes back-to-back now I see that the local company did include some "upgrades" in the quote (long story, don't ask)... I will reach out to both Lowe's and that company and see if I can get them to both send me a quote with the exact same specifications so that they can be apples-to-apples. That having been said: I am still expecting there to be a bit of a "pro markup" if I go with the local company; would Lowe's do a great job, or should I look local? How much of a markup would be worth it to have the local guy do it?

One of the companies that I got a quote from said that they would not cut into the drywall, instead they would let the window stick out of the house and they would add trim to make it look nice. This sounds silly to me (as the other three guys that I got quotes for all said the opposite), but he reassured me that they do it all the time. What do you think?

So, to summarize:
Is this too much work for a novice DIYer to do?
Will Lowe's do an acceptable job?
Is allowing the windows to stick out of the house acceptable?

I have been researching the project for six months now and I am getting overwhelmed with the different opinions that I am getting from local peeps and with the silly regulations the city is imposing on me. Hoping you guys can speak some wisdom into the situation. Thanks!



· Civil Engineer
5,832 Posts
I can't speak to the capability of the local Lowes. My understanding is that big box stores contract out installs on a low bid basis to local firms, so you are not really getting Lowes necessarily, you may just be getting a local installer with a middleman. Not sure how it works where you live.

Doing a DIY window installation can be tricky because getting the flashing right can be difficult. If you need to adjust the framing, that can be problematic, and the interior and exterior trim work requires some skill. A quality crew can work much faster than you will ever work, but of course you have to pay them. If you decide to do the work yourself, getting help from someone who has done a lot of windows already is a good idea.

· Registered
37,499 Posts
I'll try and answer a few of your questions.
#1, No way would I be just installing one window at a time for several reasons.
Vinyl windows are made to size and take an average of a week to receive.
Your going to have to remove all the siding around those windows to get the old one out and install the new windows, so why would you want to just replace one and have to do it all over again?
Cutting that sheet rock back is a piece of cake with an oscillating saw and a compound square to mark your lines.
If I was ordering those windows I'd order the ones with built in J molding to simplify the install and make it more water tight.
Something looks off to me the way that sidings installed, to me it looks like someone installed that siding over another type of siding.
The way it's installed now the water can get behind the J molding at the bottom of the window.
What bay window? That's just a double window and the only one I'd be looking closer at before replacing it.
I'd be checking the header size to see I could get rid of those center studs and installing a single unit with two double hung windows, or reframing to make the distance in the middle wider so there could be siding used to cover up the nailing fins. (minimum of 6").
Or even go the far more expensive way of installing a real bow window for a far better look.
There idea of building the trim out is not a silly idea, your windows for some reason are sitting recessed, the trim around the window should be sitting proud of the J molding with a strip of Z molding at the top of the window to keep the water out.

· Registered
213 Posts
Since buying my house, I have had 13 of 15 windows replaced.

3 were replaced by a local window & glass contractor. 6 were replaced by Window World, a window replacement franchise chain. 4 were replaced / installed by a carpenter I hired.

The carpenter was needed, as changes were being made to the size and placement of the windows. Neither 'window shop' would do that work.

I found the franchise workers much better organized, the work went much quicker, and the windows are much more 'user friendly' than the ones provided by the local shop.

Why pay, when you can DIY? After all, a contractor will charge you 3-4 times as much as a window costs at the home center.

Over the years, I have seen many folks get greedy, and assume they can do this 'simple' job. The work turns into a nightmare, there are numerous 'emergency' trips for this or that bit of hardware, or a tool is lacking. Most important, the DIY very often makes an error, and orders windows the wrong size. (Where do you think the home centers get their 'close-outs?')

Hire a pro, and the goof is on him.
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