Thank you so much to Adam Jones, owner of MAXgreen Windows, Siding and Roofing, for the thorough answers below!
If you have more questions or need a quote on your own home project, look them up at www.MAX-green.ca or call 403-805-4733!
Q: How do I know when it’s time to replace the windows in my home?
A: The most common problems we see with older windows are: Deteriorated Wood Exteriors, Inoperable Hardware, and Signs of Leaks on the Interior or Exterior.
Who really wants to spend every second summer repainting their Windows and doors? Modern solutions are maintenance free for long term lifespans.
If you cannot open or close your windows properly it is likely a safety hazard if in a bedroom, or an inefficient window if not properly closed and sealed.
Unfortunately improper past installation can mean that water has been leaking into the walls for years causing all sorts of rot to the framing of your home. By the time it is shows as a visible problem on your drywall it has often done extensive damage within the walls. It is a sad truth that we replace a lot of windows that are less than 15 years old because they simply weren’t installed correctly in the first place. We are trying to change the renovation industry standards for window replacements to better protect all homeowners.
Q: What is a ballpark price range for replacing all windows in an average sized home? What are the top factors that influence that price?
A: “Average sized home” can mean so many different things to different people. Even comparing a 2,500 SF home to another of similar floor space does not get you a reliable ballpark range for an entire home.
So instead, we like to use “ballpark range per window” to help prospective customers budget for their project. Sliding windows tend to start around $1,000 on average or so each for supply and installation. Casement (crank out windows) tend to average $1,200 – $1,500 for typical white vinyl. And then of course smaller windows could be less while very large windows much more. That’s why these budget numbers should certainly be taken as strictly a very ROUGH BALLPARK.
With accurate sizes and styles of windows we can provide an EXACT QUOTE for each specific home. Often times we can even do this by email with just Rough sizes and photos.
The top factors that influence price are: Size. Operation (sliders or casements as mentioned above), Material (Vinyl is most cost effective, but Colours on the Outside and/or Cladding adds to the cost, with Wood and Fiberglass being more premium options), Glass Type (Triple Pane can be 10-20% more than Double, but can increase the efficiency by 30-100%), and Installation Type (there are too many ways for installers to cut corners here).
So it does require an experienced Product Expert to really be able to explain the differences in value. You truly do get what you pay for in our industry – especially with labour.
Q: My basement is dark! Can I add a window or enlarge an existing one? How much does that cost?
A: We often enlarge basement windows, and not just because they are dark. Often times older basement bedroom windows are not large enough to allow for escape in case of a fire. This is the number one reason owners enlarge basement windows, and is actually a legal requirement to have an “Egress Window” in every bedroom. Fines for landlords have exceeded $20,000 for non-compliance in the past!
Basement Enlargements DO require a Building Permit as they do change the structure of your home. Then you have the Digging, Concrete Cutting, Window Well, Drainage, Installation and Interior Finishing requirements.
Some concrete cutters will do this work without a permit or following best practices for as little as $1,000 – $1,200. But for a quality job you can expect this work to start at $1,700 not including a permit.
And for a full service package with drawings, permit, digging, drainage, a new window well, a new window, a leak proof installation, and expert finishing work inside it can even approach the $4,000 mark for some projects.
So it best to compare more than just price for a project like this. Cutting corners here will cost a lot later to fix.
Q: The upper floor of my house is dark! Can I add a skylight? Are there any restrictions and what is the ballpark cost?
A: Yes Skylights are a great way to let the natural daylight in and can make a room feel much larger. Typically ceiling trusses are installed 24″ on centre apart so a 22 1/2″ wide Skylight is perfect to fit within the trusses without having to modify any structural components. But there is also the tie in to the roof system and finishing of the space between the roof and the ceiling to consider, which can add up for drywall and painting. Expect to spend $2,000+ for a brand new Skylight and installation. More if you want it to open for ventilation.
Another popular and more affordable option is a “Sun Tunnel” which is a circular dome (14″ or 22″) that goes on the roof with a tunnel that travels through the attic to a disc that looks a bit like a thin ceiling light. This can provide natural lighting in Stairwells, Hallways, Closets, Bathrooms or anywhere you may not have enough windows, and start around $1,400 installed.
Q: What are the pros and cons of vinyl vs wood windows?
A: Vinyl is the top selling window material for good reason. It is affordable and virtually maintenance free. However, it is not as strong of a material as Wood, Fiberglass or Aluminum and depending on the quality and thickness of the vinyl, may not last as long as the other premium materials. Vinyl is also limited for what can be done for very large windows due to structural concerns, and the possibility of expansion and contraction causing future issues.
Wood does require maintenance but can last forever if properly maintained. Fiberglass and Aluminum (thermally broken for efficiency) are essentially multi-generational products and allow for much larger configurations and less issues with weather than Vinyl or Wood. We really don’t see too many wood exteriors on windows anymore because of the extreme weather swings we get in Calgary.
Q: I’m building a new home. What is the best kind of siding for longevity?
A: There are so many choices now that can last many decades. While Vinyl Siding does come with a limited lifetime warranty, it clearly does not stand up well to Hail as we have seen in 2020, and can actually end up costing more in the long run with higher insurance premiums and deductibles than other options.
The #1 Selling siding brand in the World is James Hardie, which is a fiber-cement siding which has a nice premium look to it and is very durable, holding up to most hail storms. It can also slow down fire spread from a neigbouring house too which is a great feature for suburban neighbourhoods where the homes are quite close together.
Another choice that provided excellent longevity (50 year product and 25 year colour warranty) is Engineered Wood Siding. This is also the most environmentally friendly siding as it is made from essentially sawdust and resins and can also be recycled into future siding too, though that probably won’t be needed in our lifetime given the durability of this siding.
Other options include Metal Panels that look like wood, Cellular PVC Siding, Stucco and Stone. There are a lot of ways to make your home stand out and last for as long as you live there!
Q: Asphalt shingles wear out so quickly in Calgary! What other options do I have that will last longer and how much more do they cost?
A: Yes unfortunately even with their “Limited Lifetime” warranty options, they don’t actually last as long as some manufacturers would have you believe. Calgary gets a lot of variable weather and a lot of freeze/thaw cycles each year which causes shingles to lose their granules and break down sooner than in more temperate climates. Unfortunately this normal wear and tear in Calgary is not considered a warrantable defect, so many homeowners are left replacing their “30 year roof” much sooner than that here. And of course the standard asphalt is no match for Alberta hail storms.
Some asphalt shingles have added rubberized compounds in them to help them better withstand hail and the freeze/thaw cycle and can get you closer to 30-40 years vs 18-25 for standard shingles.
Our favourite roofing material is the Calgary-Invented, EuroShield Rubber Roofing, made 95% of recycled car tires. Not only do these shake or slate style panels look very high end, they also last essentially forever and can withstand most sizes of hail, with one profile being warranted against hail damage from up to a 2.5″ hail stone! These roofs will typically be around the same investment as 2 to 2.5 standard asphalt roofs but will not only provide longevity, they should also lower your insurance premiums, save you future deductibles, and provide much more resale value than a typical asphalt shingle roof that will need to be replaced again by a new owner if you do sell.
Q: What should I look for when picking a roofing, windows or siding company?
A: My biggest piece of advice is to read all the BAD reviews of the companies you are looking to hire. Any company can post good reviews, and some even pay for them, but reading the bad reviews will really give you a good idea of the types of problems the company often has and how they respond to them. Most review sites allow the business owner to respond to reviews. If you find the company to be defensive, dismissive or even worse, apathetic towards customer complaints, that can tell you a lot about what may happen if you do have a problem. Unfortunately in construction things don’t always go perfectly all the time but how you are treated when that happens makes the biggest difference in our industry.