Repair vs. Replace: Chicago Suburb Wood Windows

Since the early 90s, the Chicago suburbs have exploded with the expansion of new upscale neighborhoods, and aluminum-clad casement windows were the standard for this new construction. During this period, there were a plethora of mid-scale wood window companies supplying Chicago homebuilders with a continuous supply of moderately priced window products to keep up with demand.

The Problem

Fast forward 25 years and the Chicago suburbs now face two big problems.

  1. Poor Quality: To keep up with demand and keep prices low (oh, but they still have to make money, right?), corners were cut. Poor design, faulty components and sloppy construction added up to failing windows. I’ve commented many times — and it’s my personal opinion — that some windows were almost designed to fail on purpose. In the 90s, a wood window had a 1-year warranty. The glass may have been covered for up to 10 years. I’ve actually sat through service training of a major manufacturer and their training literature really said, ‘The window should only last 10 years. ‘ 10 years? Who can replace windows every 10 years?
  2. Housing Crash: The ultimate downfall to the boom of the wood window industry came in 2008 with the housing market crash. Most of these mid-level, regional manufacturers had all their eggs in the new construction basket. Unlike Pella and Andersen that had a stronghold on the remodeling market, most of these mid-level brands folded between 2008 and 2010 because their new construction customers went under too. Manufacturers like Caradco, Pozzi, Norco and Rockwell are no longer around to service or warrant their aging windows.

The Solution

So you live in the Chicago suburbs, you own a $300,000-700,000 home and your aluminum clad windows are fogged up, rotten and falling apart. What do you do? Replace them right? What other option do you have?

How about saving 60% or more? Fenster replacement sashes are the answer to your problem.

For this size of home, the average count is about 40 windows. A whole-house replacement will run $80,000-$90,000 for a comparable clad wood window from the only guys that are left: Pella, Marvin, Renewal by Andersen, a private contactor using Jeld-wen or Weathershield.

Fenster can replace just the sashes in the same size house for $25,000-$30,000!

Breaking It Down

Let’s break it down. What does sash replacement look like in Chicago area homes:

Why sash replacement works for a long term solution:

In most cases, the frame of the window and sash are made very differently. The frames are built of a heavy gauge aluminum that most likely will never go bad. Worst case, they fade in the sun a bit. Otherwise, what could go wrong with the frame? The sash is very different. The sash is a wood frame with a thinner metal skin over it. The design flaws I eluded to earlier lead to water leaking into the frame between the glass and the metal skin causing the wood frame to rot out. With the sash being separate from the frame, the sash can be removed leaving the frame intact without a full tear-out.

Why sash replacement solves all of your problems:

Well, your window problems at least. First, ask yourself: why are you considering window replacement? Foggy glass? Rotted wood? Poor seal? Broken hardware? Sash replacement is a direct solution to each of these issues without the need of full replacement. There’s nothing wrong with the frame right? Why tear all of that out and pay for new when you don’t need it!

Why sash replacement is a better idea:

Wood window replacement is a major remodeling project. The vinyl guys just stick a smaller plastic window inside your existing window, fill the gaps and call that done! That doesn’t work in your style and price range of home in the Chicago suburbs. Wood windows need a full tear-out to replace them. That spells a major mess! The project could take days, even weeks if there are problems and cause a major disruption in your family’s home.

Fenster crews can replace 40 sashes in 2 days or less with no mess, no inconvenience to your daily life, but with all of the same benefits of a new window for 30%  the cost and none of the hassle.

Click here to learn more about Fenster’s products. Or click here to read more about when to repair and when to replace your windows.

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