Thursday, February 5, 2009

Are Replacement Windows a Good Investment?

We all know how much the cost of heating and cooling our homes has increased in the last few years. The promise of energy savings has prompted a big push for replacement windows. Many homes here in the midwest have single pane wood windows. Most have storm windows, but they are of little help. Even the older wood windows with double pane glass have problems.

It's a well known fact that new windows will almost always result in energy savings. Think about it, you are going to pay for them one way or another. You'll either pay the utility company higher rates or a window company for the new windows.

So will windows increase the value of your home? Most certainly! According to a study commissioned by Remodeling magazine, the installation of replacement windows is one of the best values in home improvement. I'll get to the number is just a minute.

When choosing windows, you need to make sure the windows are the right ones for your home. There are so many options for replacement windows. Vinyl is the most common option and most advertised. All vinyl windows are not created equal! Then you have your "upscale" replacement windows that typically feature an aluminum clad exterior with a wood interior that can be finished to match the inside of your home.

You typically won't find vinyl windows in a $1 million home and you won't find the upscale windows in a $150k home. In my opinion, neither one of these would be a good investment. You don't want to cheapen an elegant home with lower line windows, just like you wouldn't wear your lawn mowing shoes with a tuxedo! I think you get the point! Choosing the right windows can make or break the curb appeal of your home.

Now for the numbers!

These are the latest numbers for the Cost vs. Value Report commissioned by Remodeling magazine. The data was collected from many sources during 2008. The full study is available here:

I'm keeping it simple here, the project details and specifics are available through the link above.

Midrange Vinyl windows should yield a national average of 77.2% immediate return on your investment. if you live in the Kansas City area, that average is 65.9%

Midrange Wood windows will return 77.7% nationally and 64.9% in KC.

Upscale Vinyl windows yields 79/2% nationally and 69.6% in KC.

Upscale Clad windows yields 76.5% nationally and 66.1% in KC.

These numbers are based on immediate returns. Basically if you spend $10,000 on upscale vinyl windows in the Kansas Cty market, you home value should theoretically imediately increase by $6,960.00. The longer you stay the higher the return. Unless your windows are horrible, it may not be wise to replace your windows right before you sell your home.

Do these numbers seem low to you? It's all relative, really. A bathroom remodel will only net a 61.1% increase and a sunroom by only 48.6%. Replacing your siding with Fiber-Cement will increase your home's value by 78.2%, the highest number in the study. If you plan on staying in your home for a few years, you will get your money back not only in increased value, but also in utility bill savings. It CAN be a win-win.

You have options! A good window salesperson will work with you to find the best option for your particuar situation, not just what they can make the highest margin on.

If you read this and you're in the Kansas City area, I have window solutions for every home from $150,000 to $1 million or more. There are even window options for historic homes that come in all shapes and sizes. Stay tuned to this blog, I will document some upcoming projects.

As always, visit my website for more information.


Window Replacements said...

I don't know about the replacement windows a good investment or not? But I definitely know that it will increase the value of the house.

Bill the Painter said...

They way I look at it, anything you do to your home that increases the value is a good investment. If it makes your home more efficient at the same time: double bonus!

There is no "one size fits all" solution for windows. What works in one home may not be the best for another.

Thanks for the comment!

Alex Quinn 82 said...

The Cost vs. Value Report was really interesting going over. I bought replacement windows New Jersey last year and I am very happy with them. My energy costs went down somewhat and the outside appearance of my home looks a lot better. Definitely worth the investment for me.