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Tips and advice for buying windows

After recently buying some windows myself here are some tips that I have put together. This advice is aimed at people living in Britain but much of it applies for where ever you may live.

1. If you can, inspect windows previously installed by the company. The window company may be able to provide addresses of people whose windows you can view. Make sure you are satisfied with the way they look from both the inside and outside. If you can’t arrange to see actual windows then ask to see detailed photographs or a brochure of their work. Try to agree with the company (in writing) that your windows will look as good as the ones you see – they are bound to show you the best ones!

2. As well as inspecting the windows you should ensure you are happy with the mechanical operation of the windows. Try opening all the different types of windows (e.g. if there are large and small windows open both of them) and testing any handles or locks.

3. Check what guarantee the company offers. A guarantee is legally binding and provides rights in addition to your statutory rights. Check if the guarantee is “insurance backed”. This will protect you if the window company goes out of business. Make sure that you get the guarantee in writing.

4. The language used on quotes is often quite technical. Ask for explanations of any technical terms that you don’t understand.

5. Check if the quote includes repairs to the window-sill and repairing / repainting any damaged areas of the window frames. If your TV aerial is routed through the windows make sure that they can take it into account.

6. If you are going for double glazing find out how easy it is to replace the double glazed sealed units. They have a limited lifetime (often 5-10 years) after which the seal may fail and condensation may build up inside.

7. Get multiple quotes – if possible contact a minimum of three companies and compare the quotes.

8. Try to pay only a small deposit. Ideally paying as much as you can after the work has been completed. This will give you more bargaining power if there are problems with the windows. For example, if there are problem you may be able to withhold some of the balance until the problem is fixed. The Trading Standards web site explains how you can do this.

9. Before handing over the final balance inspect and test all your windows. If you can avoid having to pay too soon after the windows are completed, you may get lucky and be able to see how your windows perform during wind and rain.

10. Ask the company what problems previous customers have had with their windows and how they dealt with them. Ask if they can give you details of previous customers that you can contact for references. Be aware that they are likely to give you details of happy customers.

11. If you run into problems then there is legislation protecting you such as:

  1. Sale of Goods Act 1979
  2. Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
  3. Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002

12. Further advice can be found at:

  1. http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk
  2. http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk
  3. http://www.adviceguide.org.uk (Citizens Advice Bureau)

You may wonder if it is worth going through all these steps. Think about how much the windows will cost. Replacing a number of windows could end up costing as much as a small car (or maybe a bigger car depending on how many get replaced). Would you buy a car without thoroughly researching it, reading the brochure and taking it for a test drive?


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