“If eyes are the windows to our souls, then windows are the eyes into the soul of a house,” says acclaimed interior designer Rose Tarlow.
Indeed, windows are an architectural feature as old as the early wall paintings in Egypt, the great baths of Roman imperial times, and the glazed panes of glass used in Byzantine churches.
The windows of today contribute as much to a home’s design as they do its function by allowing natural light and air to flow freely while protecting a house from the elements. This makes them a frequent point of negotiation in a home sale.
“Fogged windows, or windows that have bad latches, bad springs—we’ve had a lot of problems with VA (Veterans Administration) and FHA (Federal Housing Administration) contracts where they will 100% ask for those to be repaired,” says Christopher Ray, one of Jacksonville, Florida’s top-selling real estate agents.
Let’s dig into the circumstances when you need a window repair contractor to keep the deal moving forward, and how to make sure the professional you hire is up to par.
What types of window repair requests do buyers make?
Modern house hunters value windows that are, at a bare minimum, in good working condition.
Moreover, one-third of homebuyers say a home’s windows are an important environmentally friendly factor, while homeowners can recoup 73% of their spend at resale when upgrading 10 old windows with new ones.
Additionally, certain lenders put strict parameters around the condition a home’s windows need to be in before they’ll approve financing, and issues like cracked glass or broken screens will no doubt get written up in the home inspection.
This home inspection checklist from Bill Hirsch, a home inspector with 20 years of experience who’s been certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors, shows the types of window issues inspectors evaluate, including:
- Proper latching
- Broken glass or damaged screens
- Insulated window seals
- Sashes painted shut
- Wood rot or decay
- Presence of proper weather stripping
- Installation of weep holes (to drain water away from the window)
- Windows appear square, not bowed
- Wood frames and trim pieces are secure (no cracks or decay)
- Caulking of joints
- Glazing compound in good condition
- Storm windows/thermal glass used
- Drip cap installation (to direct water away)
In addition, as mentioned by Ray, window fogging, often caused by moisture seeping in when the seal between window panes fails, can be another big point of contention.
How to handle window repair negotiations with the help of your agent
When window issues come up in negotiations, your real estate agent will help you navigate whether to deny the buyers’ request for repairs, offer a repair credit, or fix the issue and show proof of receipt that the work’s been done.
For example, you wouldn’t cave to a demand for cosmetic window upgrades.
However, if the buyer (with an inspectors’ backing) makes the case that the problem poses a threat to the home’s function, you’ll likely be on the hook to issue a repair credit or hire a contractor to remedy the issue before closing.
In other cases, old windows could detract from your home’s value and limit the price you’re able to command for it.
[Buyers] just may take that into consideration when they’re placing an offer on the home,” says Judy Hayes, a top-selling Houston, Texas, real estate agent who’s to date facilitated 482 transactions. “‘Hey, I need to replace 35 windows, this house is 35 years old, and I know I’m going to have to do that, that’s why I am offering $200,000 in lieu of the $225,000 sales price.’ They usually tell you that.”
Do you need a window repair contractor to fix the problem?
In the event that you’ve agreed to fix up your windows in some shape or form during contract negotiations, you’ll either need to offer a repair credit to the buyer or hire a reputable window contractor to complete the job.
The risk with repair credits is that you’ll end up paying out more than the actual cost of the repair. When you fix the problem before closing, it’s still on your dime but you’ll only pay the exact amount required to satisfy the buyer’s request, rather than an estimate.
Now, whether you need to make repairs or replace the windows outright depends on the agreement you’re able to reach with the buyer. Nationally the average cost for window repairs is between $157-$502 depending on the complexity of the job.
Bay windows and bowed windows are more expensive to repair than, for example, single or double-hung windows. A repair on an upper floor will add to the cost due to the increased risk of falling.
Meanwhile, expect to spend $175-$700 per window replacement.
For the purposes of selling your home, your agent will help you negotiate the most economical choice that satisfies the terms of the contract.
How do you find a reputable window contractor?
Window contractors handle projects including repairs, installations, and removals for windows in residential and commercial structures. These professionals may work under a company as a subcontractor or be self-employed. Others are employees for window installation companies.
A shoddy window repair or replacement job won’t pass inspection so you need to make sure the job gets done right the first time.
Your best bet for connecting with a reputable contractor is to ask for a referral from your real estate agent. Hayes says her office tries to be a one-stop-shop for clients in all their contractor needs, and if she doesn’t know the right person, she can ask the title company she works with or another real estate agent in her network for a suggestion.
You can also poll your neighborhood for local contractor recommendations using Nextdoor, or use a site like Thumbtack to get matched with local service professionals and compare their offerings and prices.
Then, you’ll need to vet your contractor candidates by verifying their license, insurance, and experience. We recommend you collect at least 3 bids before making a decision if time allows.
Make sure your window contractor meets the licensing requirements of your state.
Some states, but not all, require that window contractors obtain proper licensing, which indicates that they’ve passed an exam to prove business competence.
Look up the requirements for window contractors in your state with the License Check tool from Angie’s List. Filter for your state and select “Windows” from the profession/trade drop-down. Then you can see the license type needed as well as the agency that issues the license in your state.
If your state does require licensing, you should ask your window contractor candidates for their licensing number to verify they have the proper credentials. With the license number in hand, you can check with the board or agency that issued the license to see if the contractor’s had any complaints filed against them.
Some state license board websites, such as California’s, provide an instant contractor license number check. If that’s not available to you, just make an old-fashioned phone call to your state board or regulator.
Ask for proof of insurance from your window repair contractor.
Your window contractor should also have an up-to-date general liability insurance policy.
Contractors’ insurance covers problems with the installation or repairs, property damage, and client and third-party injuries. Check for proof of insurance and make sure that the policy hasn’t expired.
Check into the contractors’ past work and level of experience.
Ideally the contractor you hire should have no fewer than 5 years of experience. You also want someone who specializes in windows and does window repairs and installations day in and day out, rather than someone who alternates between windows and patio construction or kitchen remodels, for example.
For certain types of jobs such as scratched glass or rattling or buzzing windows, you may want to hire a glass repair specialist.
Don’t miss your window of opportunity: Hire a reputable contractor
It’s not uncommon for home sellers to call on window repair contractors for last-minute projects that come up in the home inspection.
In fact, during the home sale process you’ll feel like your house is nothing but a revolving door of contractors, and you want to make sure you’ve vetted each one closely.
When it comes to windows, work through your negotiations with the buyer first before you make any moves. Then, if you need to find a pro in a pinch, take advantage of your real estate agent’s deep network of local professionals as your first step.