Window & Door Buying Guide

Many people are unsure of the best way to go about buying windows and doors. 'How can you tell one window from another ? They all seem to be similar but they vary a lot in price'. We have put together a few tips to help you go about buying windows in the right way.

  1. Before you see anyone, try to get a clear idea of what you want. Get door brochures and look online or look at similar houses for ideas. Decide on the style of window and the colour you want. This will help you when it come to making comparisons between window companies.
  2. Once you start to get quotes, get to know who you are dealing with and take nothing for granted. A national name or an advert on TV is no guarantee of value for money. For example some "hard sell" companies might initially give you a really expensive price and then drop it only if you protest. .. and remember that there is no such thing as buy one get one free or free fitting ! At the other end of the spectrum, a one man band might buy cheap inferior trade frames, work for a small amount per window, but will not be able to FENSA register your windows or give good after sales service. A mid-range local company may give a good overall balance between price, quality and service, but they vary widely in quality, service and reliability. So somehow you need to make a judgment. Certainly, do not ignore your instincts if you think something is wrong.
  3. Always get several quotes. Try to make the quotes a similar a possible so you can make a good comparison.
  4. Never make a decision on the day. Many sales people will try to "close" the deal to shut out competitors. Take all the time you need, until you are sure of what you want to do.
  5. Ask your friends and family about their experiences, but don't be overly swayed by their opinion. A company that knows it has been recommended may assume they have it made. Always get price comparisons.
  6. Check how long a company has been trading. In itself, this does not guarantee anything. However, the long standing company will have an established level of service and experience in the industry – and hopefully experienced and competent window fitters.
  7. Ask for details of satisfied customers. Go and look at their installations. If possible get their opinions.
  8. Always make sure you see the windows you are buying, whether as a sample or better still, recently installed. Make sure that what you see is what will be installed. Some companies may have had the same showroom for years, but may now be fitting something different. It is particularly important to see and be satisfied with the quality of the wood effect colours such as rosewood, oak and Irish oak.
  9. Know the quality of the window you are buying. For example, check to see if the window is BFRC Energy rated. This is an easily understandable rating system where A, is the most energy savings, B is the next most efficient and so on. This rating applies to the whole window ( the "w" value, not just the glass, which is "u" value). As an absolute minimum, your glass units should contain Planitherm Total + or equivalent coating. Bear in mind though, that a badly fitted A-rated window will do you no good at all.
  10. Check that your windows and doors will have sufficient re-enforcement. Some modern uPVC profiles do not always need it on small windows, but larger ones and doors definitely do. Similarly your door panels should also be reinforced every time. Doors need high security hinges and a minimum of 3 hooks, cams and a deadbolt in the locking system.

Money saving tips

  • This may sound obvious, but make sure your window or door actually does need replacement before you do it. Many old windows and doors can be cleaned/repaired or upgraded at a relatively modest cost.
  • Always haggle on the price.
  • Remember that white is at least 20% cheaper than foiled products such as oak and rosewood. Some colours such as Irish oak are usually more than that. White is also less prone to expansion problems in "sun traps".
  • Simplify your windows. The more opening sashes in your windows, the more expensive they will be.
  • Fancy decorative glass in your door or window may well add up to £100+ to your price. Remember that with windows and doors, a simple design might well look better than a complex one.

How Cheap Window Companies Cut Costs

  • Cheap and soft uPVC profile
  • Little or no metal reinforcement in frames
  • No door panel reinforcement
  • No energy ratings
  • No FENSA registration
  • Inferior door and window handles/locks/hinges
  • Use of unskilled or cheap or illegal subcontract labour
  • Little or no after sales service

Example:

You get 2 prices for a front door, but one is £30 cheaper than the other. If all other things were equal, the cheaper company could leave out door panel reinforcement and only reinforces the hinge side of the door frame, easily saving the price difference. Most unsuspecting members of the public would never know the difference.