The moment has arrived. You definitely – almost definitely – well, probably – are going to finally replace that boring front door or put in those energy-efficient windows you’ve been wanting since you moved in 5 years ago. Now that you are close to being certain that you will, in fact, finally pull the trigger on your new window and door installation project, you may be wondering: But how? Where do I even start?
Don’t worry. At SoCo Wood & Windows, we understand how overwhelming the initial process can be in beginning your home project. That’s why we’ve not only created a guide for you, “10 Things to Consider When You’re Thinking About New Windows and Doors,” but we’re breaking each of those 10 things down for you in this upcoming blog series.
Today, we want to dig deeper into #1 – thinking through your timeline and budget. As the old adage goes, “failure to plan is planning to fail.” We want your window and door installation project to be a smashing success that you love for years to come, but for that to happen, it’s essential to plan.
Create a Budget
While most people would agree that it is good to create a budget for a home renovation project, very few of those people know how to go about actually creating one, or staying within it.
However, just because construction projects are notorious for blowing budgets doesn’t mean it’s impossible to stay within budget! You simply need to plan ahead.
To create a budget, consider:
- What’s more important to you: your budget or your renovation vision? Some people save for a long time in order to complete a home project, and they absolutely cannot overspend that amount. If that’s you, great! Simply limit your product searches to your budget. Don’t allow yourself (or your contractor) to show you options outside of your budget.
Other people find themselves far more concerned with getting the final product to look exactly like what they have in mind, regardless of cost. If that’s you, great! You probably won’t need this section; however, it’s still helpful to read through to help yourself anticipate how your project will go.
If you find yourself somewhere between these two groups: that’s great! Just be sure to take the time to consider: are there any elements that you are willing to splurge on? Any elements you’re willing to compromise on? For example, are you willing to sacrifice new interior doors for the gorgeous bay window in your living room you’ve always wanted? Are you willing to include a new front door along with new windows to save big on energy efficiency? You’ll want to know this before you talk to your contractor.
- How will you finance your project? Again, there are many options, from saving up to applying for a HELOC to using your credit card. Be sure to consider your finances and perhaps even talk to a financial advisor if you are considering one of the later options so that you can enjoy your new windows and doors without the worry of how to pay for them.
- Once you’ve decided on a budget range, you’ll want to do some research into how much it will cost to get what you want. Home Advisor offers a search engine that can help you get estimates for your area.
Remember that different materials cost different amounts and that any custom designs or personalizations will add to your bottom line. You can find out more by reading our article, “10 Things to Consider When You’re Thinking About New Windows and Doors.”
Additionally, don’t forget to factor labor into your budget. Typically, labor ends up costing about 20-35% of your total budget.
It’s important when considering your labor costs to interview more than one contractor for the job and avoid outlier bids. If they charge considerably less than the other contractors, you’re probably getting poor workmanship in addition to your discount, which could cost you big in the long run. (Read more on hiring contractors in the Timeline section below.)
- Another helpful thing to think through when you’re creating your budget is to consider how much you’ll be gaining after completing this project. For example:
- Are you choosing options that will save you money on energy bills? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy-efficient windows and doors can save you $125-$465 per year.
- Are you choosing options that will save you money on home insurance? Some upgrades (e.g. hurricane windows on Florida homes) can knock as much as 35% off your premium.
- Are you thinking about selling your home in the next few years? While new doors and windows don’t dramatically increase your resale value, they can make a big difference to your home’s curb appeal. Additionally, during the home inspection, inspectors will make notes of drafty windows and doors. New windows and doors can only help your resale process as a whole.
Once you have your budget, you’re ready to move forward with your project! Don’t forget to stick with it as much as you can, and you’ll be sure to feel great about the results in the end.
Create a Timeline
While most people understand the importance of planning out a budget before beginning a project, many stumble when it comes to creating a timeline. They may feel it is unimportant, or that there are too many variables outside of their control in order to create a successful window and door installation project timeline.
However, failing to consider a project’s timeline is often what causes a homeowner the most stress in any home renovation project. It almost always takes longer than the homeowner expects, and having an unfinished project hanging over your head is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Thankfully, door and window projects rarely take more than a day or two to complete. However, this is a double-edged sword, as it also is what causes homeowners to under-plan their timelines. Most homeowners don’t realize how many steps are involved from starting the project to getting their windows and doors installed.
It’s important to consider the following steps when thinking through your window and door installation timeline:
- First, you must decide on the scope of your project: will you be replacing all your windows, or replacing windows floor by floor over the course of the next several seasons for budgetary reasons? Are you willing to buy a pre-made door or are you wanting special customizations to your front door?It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want yet. You’ll discuss these things with your contractor. But it’s important to have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for. Otherwise, you risk additional delays in the project, which can cost valuable time and money.(Struggling to nail down exactly what you want? Check out our post, “How to Think Through the Purpose of Your New Windows and Doors.”)
Finally, if your home has an HOA, don’t forget to double-check if they have any rules that apply to the appearance of new windows or doors, or if there are any installation or construction restrictions you’ll need to let your contractor know about.
- Second, you need to decide on a contractor. However, we highly recommend looking at many different contractors’ websites or calling their businesses to get some base information. Meet with them in person at your home to get their quotes. Consider asking your contractor:
- What experience do they have doing the specific work you want them to do on your house. (They may be the best at laying floors in your state, but if they have no experience installing windows, you don’t want to hire them.)
- If they have customers you could ask about the quality of the contractor’s work. (They should have a few you can call – and do call them!)
- What their price and timeline estimates are. (If they are outliers compared to the other contractors you talk to, consider it a red flag.)
- If there are any variables in your home that they can spot that could cause potential delays or budget increases. (For example, is there any rot around your door frame or tree branches in the way of the window work?)
- After you’ve decided on a contractor, you’ll work together to order the materials you want. Your contractor will take measurements and can walk you through your options if you still have questions. Expect a minimum of 4-6 weeks before your windows and doors arrive. Once they arrive, your contractor will schedule an installation date with you. This could be another few weeks away depending on their availability.
- Once installation day finally arrives, you can anticipate a front door taking about 3-5 hours to install. You can anticipate a straight-forward window installation to take about 30 minutes/window (e.g. 10-15 windows per day), although you will need to plan additional time if you have many windows above the second story, if you ordered custom windows, or if your window or door frames need to be replaced, as well.
To help ensure a seamless installation without too many hiccups in your timeline, you can do the following:
- Work with a trusted vendor who can get you the windows or doors you ordered in a timely manner. They should deliver a quality product you don’t have to worry about sending back.
- Take down your window treatments and anything on your interior walls (pictures, blinds, curtain rods, etc.) or around the windows (e.g. furniture) ahead of time so the installers aren’t slowed down by managing these.
- Remove any security sensors you have connected to your doors or windows.
- Clear away any outdoor obstacles, like patio furniture. Schedule a tree trimmer to come clear away branches your contractor mentioned as potential obstructions.
Once you have your timeline, you’ll feel confident in moving forward with your project. You’ll know approximately when you’ll be able to enjoy your brand new windows or doors!
Still have questions? We’d love to talk to you. We have several experts on hand who can help you process your choices and feel confident you’re getting the right answers from your contractor. Give us a call today.