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Should I Replace My Builder Grade Windows?

Expert Overview

  1. Builder grade windows are the inexpensive windows that home builders use to save money, and they are not meant to last.
  2. Because builder grade windows are made with low cost materials and are often installed improperly, within just a few years, the windows may have seal failure and hardware failure.
  3. Builder grade windows usually lack good insulation; upgrading to new, energy-efficient windows can lower your energy bill.

Homebuilders are not experts in windows. They are experts in building homes as efficiently as possible. Naturally, they want to save money and maximize profits during the construction process. This is why they often use low quality, inexpensive windows.

We call these lower quality windows “builder grade windows.” Some builders allow you to upgrade to a higher quality window. The majority of home buyers don’t upgrade, because one window seems much the same as the next.

But as homeowners often find out a few years down the road—when the windows won’t open properly or their home is continually drafty—not all windows are created alike.

Builder grade windows are typically not designed to have long term durability. It is not uncommon for homeowners to begin seeing issues with their builder grade windows after 5 to 10 years.

The combination of low quality materials and incorrect installation can create a number of problems for homeowners with builder grade windows.

Problem #1: Seal failure

If you notice that your windows constantly look foggy and just won’t come clean, this is a sign of seal failure. Seal failure is what happens when the seals around your windows fail and excess moisture gets trapped between the panes of glass. This is usually the result of incorrect installation. The only way to fix this is to have the window replaced correctly with insulated glass.

Problem #2: Hardware failure

After a while, homeowners may notice issues operating their windows, such as failure to stay up, and difficulty with closing and/or locking the window. These are signs of hardware failure. If a window cannot open or close easily, that is a sure sign that the windows are made from low quality materials or that they were not installed correctly.

Problem #3: No insulation

If your home has builder grade windows, there is a good chance the windows weren’t properly insulated when they were installed. Improperly insulated windows can become a source of drafts and can lead to higher energy bills and a less comfortable home. Windows need to be properly insulated to keep the outside temperatures where they belong—outside!

Benefits of upgrading from your builder grade windows

There are many benefits to replacing builder grade windows with high quality windows that are properly installed. When you upgrade your windows to high quality, energy-efficient windows, you won’t have to worry about having rooms in the house that are consistently too hot or too cold because of drafts or poor insulation. You can also cut your energy bills and increase the comfort of your home.

New windows will also enhance your home’s curb appeal. You’ll notice less issues with seal failure, and have less operating issues as well.

Another benefit of upgrading your builder grade windows is the opportunity to customize your windows. Most home builders do not give home buyers many options when it comes to their windows. Most are either white or tan, have limited grid options—if any—and come in standard styles.

When you upgrade to new windows, you have the ability to custom design your new windows to match your personal style. You can choose from a variety of colors, grid patterns, and even upgrade to different styles, such as a garden window above your sink.

Wondering which type of window is right for you? Learn more about the various kinds of windows.

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