Bay Area Window Trends

From on May 02, 2007 in Window Replacement

Bow WindowOur contractors report that replacement windows are one of the most popular home improvement projects in the Bay Area - no surprise, since it’s one of the best investments in the home’s ultimate resale value. In most cases, homeowners are taking the retrofit approach of leaving the frame intact and installing just the new window, although in some cases (from major remodel to fixing dry rot), they sometimes replace the frame or even change the size and shape of the window opening.

Probably the biggest issue is energy conservation, as a combination of skyrocketing energy bills and green concerns drives people to replace their old, leaky, single-pane windows with double-paned models that offer better insulation. (They’re also often tired of sitting next to drafty windows and want to be a bit more cozy.) More and more homeowners are also citing noise reduction as an issue, particularly in high-traffic areas.

Also driving the trend: remedying the bad decisions of the past, both functional and aesthetic. “More and more,” says Dennis Lafayette of INCOTEC in Palo Alto, “We’re running into the issue of replacing dual-pane windows, either vinyl or aluminum, that are maybe five or 10 years old, where the owner has chosen very poorly and gone with a very low-budget company. We’re being called out on stuff where there’s been failure, and a number of real serious problems with the windows - and we have to look at them and say, ‘There’s nothing we can repair; the only thing to do is do it right.’”

Old aluminum windowsAnd then there’s the fact that those ubiquitous aluminum windows of decades past are not, at this point, a midcentury classic. Says Lance Schepps of HomeWorks in San Rafael, “Some of the very inexpensive aluminum frames from the 1960s are failing at a high rate and make the entire house look old and tired. New windows can dramatically upgrade the curb appeal and therefore the resale value of the home.”

By far the most popular frame material is vinyl, for its price point, insulation properties and low maintenance. Traditional wood windows can cost up to triple the price of their vinyl counterparts, says Lafayette.

Nonetheless, in some situations they’re the best, if not the only choice, particularly in historic buildings or when the CC&Rs of homeowner associations are an issue. Says Schepps, “Many cities, such as San Francisco and Oakland, are paying strict attention to the permits being issued for historical properties. For too many years people were putting temporary window products into these lovely and stately historic homes. Building departments in some communities, for instance, will not allow aluminum or vinyl as acceptable replacement windows, as they do not architecturally look like original ‘millwork’ wood windows. Wood composite, such as Renewal by Andersen, has many of the features of a traditional wood ‘millwork’ window and is accepted in many communities as a ‘green’ alternative to wood as it shares similar aesthetics.”

One hot new trend that’s popular across all styles: self-cleaning glass. This breakthrough comes thanks to a nano-thin coating of titanium dioxide, applied to the glass during the manufacturing process, that causes dirt and dust not to stick to the surface. Rain or a squirt from the garden hose is all it takes to make the windows clean and spot-free. Just about everybody seems to think it’s worth the investment, which, says Lafayette, amounts to between $50 and $100 more per window. “I haven’t heard anybody say it wasn’t worth it,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Golly, I never have to wash my windows again and it’s going to cost me 50 or 100 bucks? Where do I sign?’”

If your energy bills have been giving you fits, if you’re tired of sitting in a draft, if you’re just plain tired of looking at your old windows, or if you’re more than ready to give up window-washing, we can help you find just the right specialist to deliver the perfect windows - and the perfect installation - for your home. Give us a call — we’re here to help.

[tags]windows, window trends, window energy conservation, window contractors, window replacement[/tags]