I want to start this post on my soapbox for a minute. I am celebrating 20 years in the window and home improvement business this year: This isn’t my first rodeo. I think after 20 years we might have something figured out. To this day, I can’t help but get a little offended when someone says what I’ve given 20 years of my life to doesn’t work. Who says such things, you ask? A contractor manipulating the system; that’s who!
It’s funny, after all these years, how the same dilemma is seen entirely different depending on who’s writing the check. The bulk of our sales are direct-to-consumer retail. To a homeowner that has rotted wood sashes or fogged glass, we’re the greatest idea ever!
We save folks thousands of dollars by replacing just their failed sash instead of tearing out the whole window. Now take that same solution and apply it to hail damage when the insurance company is expected to provide all new windows. “It doesn’t work! Fake news! Oh, you can’t do that. Nope. You need $100,000 of all new windows”, says the contractor.
But they are wrong; it can be done.
After all, what’s the difference between rotted wood and dents in the metal? Nothing. A new sash solves either problem.
Hail damaged windows are repaired easily by removing and replacing the damaged sash by a Fenster factory-trained technician. See, most of the time, clad windows are built with a wood frame sash covered in a thin metal skin. Casement windows are most susceptible to hail damage because the sash sits out even with the frame and makes up most of the surface you see from the outside. The frames, however, are usually built of a much heavier gauge metal to retain their shape and strength. Typically, the frame is designed with minimal surface, or edge, exposed to the elements. I won’t say never but rarely do I see any significant hail damage to the frame edge. It’s the sash with the thinner skin and more surface area that gets the brunt of the hail damage.
Before I go further, I want to dispel a common myth we hear. We get folks looking for “cladding” all the time. The thought here is ‘since just the cladding is damaged, we’ll just replace the cladding.’ Gee, I can’t imagine where homeowners get the impression that their insurance company is trying to shortchange them.
I’ll make it simple: This can’t be done.
Yes, someone is going to read this that was a Pella service tech once upon a time and say Pella sold them replacement cladding. However, Pella did that for like 30 seconds and regretted it 29 seconds later! They never did it again, and no other company, to my knowledge, has ever sold JUST replacement cladding. Here’s why;
- Supply chain. If the brand is still in business and the model of window is still in production, then, maybe. But in most cases, the biggest hurdle to this idea of just replacing cladding is getting the cladding in the first place.
- Sash construction. Depending on how the sash is constructed, the cladding may not even come off. You have two scenarios here. One: you’re going to have so much labor in dismantling the sash and replacing the cladding that you’ll exceed the price of a whole new sash. Or two: you’ll damage or destroy the sash trying to get the cladding off. (And then have to replace the sash anyway.)
- Experience. I’ve built and repaired windows for 20 years, and I’m telling you this doesn’t work. I’ve also spent the last several years looking for window repair professionals across the country. The talent isn’t out there to pull this off.
Ah, but there’s got to be a better way, you say?! Yes, replace the whole sash!
We at Fenster Components design and build after-market replacement sashes for hail-damaged windows. Our sashes are your best solution for hail damage. I know you’re going to ask, “Why won’t you sell just the cladding?” Great question. Now you’re digging into why Fenster is so special.
What makes us the true innovator is in engineering.
See, when a brand goes out of business or discontinues a model, all of those components disappear with it. While there are very few patents on window design, the supply chain is controlled by the manufacturers. I’ve mentioned in other posts about how all windows are kinda built all the same, which is true to a point. Where you really get into the technical details is where one brand’s component is not interchangeable with another’s, although they look very similar. This is the genius of Fenster Components.
While we can’t get the original brand’s parts, we can get parts that look very similar and adapt the design to fit those components we now call our own. In summary, what I’m saying is, we can’t sell just cladding because the original cladding doesn’t exist. We can, however, build a new sash that looks just like the old one with our parts!
Back on my soapbox real quick to wrap this up: This movement of change in the industry has to start with the insurance companies. Right now, we’re an afterthought: A second opinion after some storm chaser has turned in a six-figure window bid. Once we bid, we’re a great idea to the insurance carrier, but the contractor has convinced the homeowner we’re a sham and that the insurance company is screwing them, and for no other purpose than not to lose his over-inflated replacement bid.
Trust the experts. Trust the experience of 20 years of innovation and ingenuity. After all, 20 years and 50,000+ sashes built and sold says we must be working for someone!