5 ways to tell if the house you’re touring will need new windows

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Two-story yellow home with front-facing garage

08/26/2016 | Author: Fran J. Donegan, guest expert

New windows are an expensive investment, easily costing $300 to $1,000 per window, and most homebuyers don’t factor in window costs when searching for a new home. However, if you’re aware of what to look for when touring a home, you can spot windows that may need repair or replacement. Here are things to pay attention to:

1. Windows that are difficult to open and close. You might not be able to test every window in the house, but try some out. If you are unsure, you can ask permission. 

2. Damage to window frames. Look for signs of water damage, rotted wood, or recently made repairs, both inside and outside. 

3. Missing hardware. Most hardware can be replaced, including cranks for casement windows, but if the hardware is missing, it could be a sign that the window does not work properly. 

4. Foggy double-pane windows. Condensation between the panes of glass means the seal has been broken and the energy efficiency of the window has been compromised. 

5. Single-pane windows. This is a sign that the windows are fairly old and not very energy efficient. New double-pane windows are much more energy efficient. 

Consider future maintenance when surveying the windows. Wood windows need to be scraped and painted every few years. If new windows are an option, there are number of low-maintenance models available, including vinyl, fiberglass, and composite, as well as wood windows where the wood is exposed inside but covered with vinyl or aluminum outside to protect it from the elements.

If you get to the stage of the buying process where you visit the property with a home inspector, point out any concerns you have.

While you may not have planned to spend money for window fixes as a new homeowner, you’ll benefit in the long run by having a more energy-efficient home.

Fran J. Donegan writes on home improvement for Home Depot. Fran is a longtime DIY author and has written several books, including Paint Your Home. To review a number of window installation options, you can visit homedepot.com.

Categories: Buyers, Sellers, Homeowners
Tags: windows, homebuying, buyers


Lillian Schaeffer on 03/06/2017

Thanks for bringing to my attention that single-pane windows should be replaced with something more energy efficient. My husband and I are going to be purchasing a house, and the one we’re looking at is older, and the windows only have single panes. It’s good to keep in mind that we’ll likely need to replace the windows with something double-paned and more energy efficient if we buy this home.

Laurie on 11/12/2016

It is important to have your home inspected by a professional and also look at these things yourself. If it is found that the home you would like to purchase needs a big ticket item like a new roof, new windows, new furnace, foundation repair, etc. then you can try and negotiate that into the cost of the home or request that they make the repair. Great information, thanks for sharing!

Jon Pfau on 09/06/2016

Your real estate agent can provide several qualified inspectors for you to choose from when you purchase.  The home inspection is crucial in determining whether the home has faulty or inefficient windows.  They can cost you a lot over time in energy loss, and are expensive to replace.

Debbie Russell on 08/29/2016

Nothing quite as nice, as fresh clean new energy efficient windows.  Don’t let the window salesman “fancy up the order”.... get what you need and stay away from the big extra’s….

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The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.

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