Out of the above three companies, the highest rated windows were Marvin, both via Consumer Reports and via the online blogs. We’d also had a great endorsement from our roofing contractor for SolarGlass in Boulder, our local Marvin representative, so we were comfortable getting a quote from them.
We’d read online that Marvin tends to be the more expensive windows, but their quality is commensurate. We’d also read that Pella can be difficult to get a true price in that they may bid high and then come back with a lower bid and if you do have problems that their customer service is not all that great. Not much was commented about with the Renewal by Andersen in terms of sales tactics.
In all cases, when we asked for our quotes, we clearly and definitively asked for the best price they could give for replacing our windows. We specifically stated that we did not want a “rethink” on the quote and we wanted the sales rep to think up-front and give us their best price the first time.
Upon receiving the three quotes, there was quite a difference in how the bid sheets were laid out. The least detailed was Renewal by Anderson, the most detailed was Marvin. But mostly we were shocked at the huge difference in pricing! Much to our surprise, the SolarGlass Marvin Integrity quote was the lowest price – and this window (wood interior, pultruded fiberglass exterior) was the highest rated window in terms of energy efficiency. And not only was the SolarGlass total quote (material, finishing and installation) for the Integrity lowest, but their installation also included interior finishing. The other companies would not perform interior finishing (staining).
Strictly in terms of pricing, the list was (lowest to highest cost):
- Marvin Integrity (lowest)
- Renewal by Anderson
- Marvin Ultimate
- Pella ProLine
- Pella Designer (highest)
True to the on-line reports, within about a week or two from the initial quote period we received calls from the other companies offering to reduce their pricing because “they weren’t that busy now and had room to negotiate their prices.” Call us stubborn, but we do not appreciate that type of selling. We asked for best prices up front and we expected the first quotes to be best offer. We find it hard to develop trust when the target is moving. And if it were entirely a decision on lowest landed cost, the SolarGlass Integrity quote still won on lowest landed cost – even after Pella and Renewal by Anderson came back with their ‘improved’ pricing!
However, this kind of decision is not only a financial decision, but one about the installation quality. Without decent installation the best windows are likely to leak or have problems. Again, SolarGlass gave us a good feeling about the work they would do. Their sales person, Rick, stopped by several times to discuss the options, fit and installation process. We spent considerable time with him to determine the best configuration for the windows, trying to understand the changes we would expect and the amount of work required to install the windows.
Rick suggested a change to our kitchen window, moving from a double casement to a wide awning style that would remove the mullion that obstructed the view from the kitchen sink. Not only would this give us a more open feel with a better view, but it was a lower cost option to the double casement. In addition, for the small increase in price (less than 2% of the total installed cost), we made all other double casement windows to have both windows operate so that we could maximize airflow in summer months. Previously, the double casements had only one side operating. We simply would never have considered these two significant changes without his advice.