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Starting point for affordable triple-glazed windows?

John Williams | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Hi guys, we are building in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. 1250 square-foot oneday retirment house with a small loft. We haven’t solidified any details yet but are shooting for a pretty good house.

Lots of the local builders use Anderson 400 series some use Matthew’s brothers windows, who does offer a triple glazed version/line. Even in this region there’s clearly not a huge call for really good efficient windows, so I’d like to help my builder find the starting point to get the best windows we can afford, and I do not yet have a linenitem budget but the overall build budget not including site work or architecture is 350,000. If you had this budget, and your primary concern was the envelope what window online would you use? And what might I expect to pay for a typical 27″ x 55″ (based off my current Anderson’s) casement window?

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Replies

  1. Steve Knapp CZ 3A Georgia | | #1

    My climate is not as severe as yours, so I went with Andersen 100 series windows (fixed lights and casements) and 400 series sliding french doors. However, my front door is from Intus, and, based on how it looks and performs, I would have preferred that product for the entire house. (Unfortunately, I learned about Intus too late in the process.)

    You should buy the best window your budget can support. There are quite a few options on the marketplace. Your budget will go further if you minimize the number of windows in the structure.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    John,
    Intus. Paradigm. Inline Fiberglass. Duxton.

    -- Martin Holladay

  3. Brian P | | #3

    When researching/buying windows for our house (Jackson, NH) in 2013, we narrowed our choices to either fiberglass or PVC and the brands of Marvin or Intus or Alpen. We further narrowed that down to Intus or Alpen because they had better specs for the cold climate here. And then narrowed it down to Alpen because we weren't sure if the longer lead time of Intus would work out.

    I don't know much about what Anderson and Mathews Brothers offer, but Alpen and Intus are both great window lines for cold climates and have options to "tune" each window for its location on your house. They both have good local/regional dealers:

    Intus - Performance Building Supply in Portland, ME - http://performancebuildingsupply.com
    Alpen - Pinnacle Window Solutions in Hallowell, ME - http://www.pinnaclewindowsolutions.net

    If you went with Alpen, I'd recommend at least the Zenith 625 line or above for the climate up here. The owner of Pinnacle even drove over to help us with the window delivery and some installation follow up.

    Once you have more details about your window needs, you can submit a "window schedule" to each dealer for an estimate.

    On another note, I'd also recommend looking into the Energy Star program. If you'll have NHEC as an electric provider, they'll pay for the consultation/certification service (which will include blower door tests).

  4. Charlie Sullivan | | #4

    Another to consider is Comfortline by Fiberframe (or is it Fiberframe by Comfortline?). They seem to be good quality fiberglass frame windows with the full range of triple-pane glass types available without excessive upcharges, and their prices in the US can be better than the price for importing Canadian windows, although that comparison might vary with the exchange rate.

  5. John Ranson | | #5

    I quoted Inline a few months back, and it was $380 for a 10.7 sq.ft. triple glazed argon filled casement. No idea if the pricing has changed much, but that was as good as any other quote I got. Bigger windows were cheaper for the area.

    --John

  6. John Williams | | #6

    guys, thanks so much for the input. this place is an absolute wealth of information.

    whats a reasonable, or expected, turnaround on windows?

  7. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #7

    In the northeastern US, Harvey's ~U0.20 triple panes are usually available at "value pricing" competitive with some of the others at that end of the market (Paradigm, et al).

  8. Adam Emter | | #8

    Check out http://prossimo.us/. I used their windows in my pretty good house in ND and I would recommend them to anyone. They are based in upstate NY.

  9. John Williams | | #9

    thanks again guys.

    well, wife and builder have expanded sq footage to 1800, from 1250 (plus a loft) and i'm getting nudged to towards a lower energy standard (builder) and nicer finish level (wife)

    now i'm hearing "marvin integrity, anything beyond that is past your budget and we dont have the vendor relationships, you'll pay full retail. we have great relationship/discount with marvin vendors"

    can i get a decent house with these? ie if i insist on great air sealing and good insulation with thermal break etc.?

    have a budget of $350k not including design or land and am feeling like i'm going to wind up with very average house. any input is welcome

  10. Steve Knapp CZ 3A Georgia | | #10

    Consider pricing out the Andersen 100 series. It a good window for the price.

  11. Bob Irving | | #11

    I've used Paradigm on several homes (good windows), Integrity double and triple glazed (IMO one of the best American windows), Alpen triple and quad pane and others. None come anywhere close to European style tilt turns such as Intus, which are not that much more - especially if you can buy some as fixed sash. If you don't have time to wait, check out Logic (http://logicwd.com) - an American manufactured European style tilt turn sold by Pinnacle Window Solutions. Windows are a critical component if your envelope, especially in northern NH.

  12. John Williams | | #12

    hi guys, after a delay, we've nearly finalized our design and are pulling window quotes. ive attached the quote from a schuco supplier. we were seeking an intus quote but were told they're no longer doing residential projects.

    so, you'll see the schuco quote, including 10 casement and 12 fixed windows and 2 doors came back at $15,483. bear in mind this is a european tilt and turn window maker, a very nice window.

    rough breakdown: $2700 per door and $10059 total for 22 windows ($457/avg per)

    for comparison's sake, we got back a quote for anderson 400 series windows for $7400 or $336 per unit.

    now, from what ive read, the door cost/benefit is not worth such a pricy unit but that's really not my deal breaker.

    i'd actually be willing to pay the 36% premium for the windows, because in real world dollars sense, its "only" another $2600 for the windows.

    BUT, what kills the deal for me is the $3500 shipping cost. bring the total tally to $18963. doing the math, now its $616/unit

    now pushing double per unit, i cant see any possible way the payback would be close. i'm shocked people would pay that much more to bring in an overseas window unless they simply have money burning a hole in their pocket. we do not.

    so the search for an affordable high quality window continues. will let you know what the tri-pane matthews brothers (made in maine) quote comes back as and am still seeking an alpen quote.

    mostly posting this so that people doing this for the first time can see a real world example of costs, which are hard to find. i had no idea of what the various windows cost, but am getting a good education

    also, if anyone has a suggestion for a local-ish window, essentially avoiding outlandish shipping quotes, i'd be grateful

    thanks

  13. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #13

    John,
    I just contacted Performance Building Supply in Portland, Maine to confirm the news. I hadn't realized that Intus is no longer quoting on residential jobs. But you're right -- no more Intus windows for homes. That's surprising, and it's too bad.

    Like the company that gave you the quote (European Architectural Supply), Performance Building Supply in Maine has switched to Schuco windows.

  14. John Williams | | #14

    hi martin,

    yes, the intus window seemed like a nice window but the schuco seems a decent replacement. again, now that ive seen the premium for the delivery, its not even a consideration but i have inquiries out to marvin (integrity line), inline, paradigm and few others. i'll post my results here so folks can get a bit of context for their own builds and go in eyes wide open as to the sometimes big price differences.

    thanks and take care

  15. T Carlson | | #15

    Pricing project to project is better compared by the square foot of opening versus by units.

    Your units are rather small, so while there are quite a few, your overall opening cost is over $100/sf.
    I get Andersen 100 series for under $25 sf, and I believe I had gotten uPVC triple pane tilt/turn quote for around $40-50 sf by Yaro several years ago.

  16. John Williams | | #16

    interesting info T-thank you. i don't think the andersen 100's would perform in the way we're looking for

    as to yaro-i looked at their site, but it appears as tho' their uPVC are schuco windows, no? the website gave that impression and my guess is that my quote wouldnt change.

    maybe i'm paying "retail' while shopping for quote for my dealer, as opposed to him going directly to the dealer? im just trying to lighten his workload a bit.

    thanks

    john

  17. Bob Irving | | #17

    Pinnacle Windows (in Maine) makes a European stle Tilt Turn at a window plant in Pennsylvania, so faster turn around and lower shipping costs. Paradigm Windows in Portland, ME has also started to manufacture tilt turns in Maine. So Tilt Turns are now American windows! Pinnacle sells direct; Paradigm sells through lumber yards and other retailers.

  18. Bob Irving | | #18

    Do Not settle for an "average" house! Remember that "code" is the poorest quality allowed by law. Average standards today are pretty low on the ideal energy score, and a home in your climate needs to be well above average. First, sign up for Energy Star - it's free, you'll get good advice, and if you do a better than average job, you can get a check. Next, let your builder know that you insist on a tight house, and verify that with a blower door test - after window installation and before insulation. The State follows the IRC - eventually - which calls for a air seal rate of 3ACH50. NH was 7ACH recently but may have been upgraded by now. 3 ACH is not at all hard to meet if one pays attention; it doesn't require any special materials or skills. A thermal break is advisable, but as you can find on this website, you can have issues installing a non-vapor-permeable product such as on the exterior foam if you are not clear on how to deal with the moisture that will travel through the walls. These are a few of many things that anyone can do to make an average house better - for minor added costs. And it definitely is worth the time and effort.

  19. John Williams | | #19

    hi bob

    according to my builder's first calculations, we're at roughly 1.8 ACH50, trying to get down to 1.2. thus our window research. he's very excited about the project and working with someone trying go the "pretty good house" route and we're excited likewise to be working with him

    as to signing up with energy star, how does one go about doing that?

  20. T Carlson | | #20

    John,
    Good windows are important, but expensive isnt the only way to airtightness. I'm below .6 ACH50 with 100 series. I can repeat the result with really expensive windows and also with lower cost windows. I took the savings and invested in envelope and mechanicals where I believe the bigger payoffs are in my cold 8000 HDD climate.

    I know you arent going that way, just commenting on your .6 estimated reduction based on window choice, I dont think say a tilt turn package over a casement package will boost your air tightness very much. Felt stripped sliders to tilt turns, ok then you might see a measurable difference. Mixing in fixed glass helps alot as well. Good luck though, 12 week lead is ridiculous.

  21. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #21

    John,
    Q. "As to signing up with Energy Star Homes, how does one go about doing that?"

    A. Here is a link to the web page with information on New Hampshire's Energy Star Homes program: Energy Star Homes Program for New Hampshire.

    The page directs you to a Program Enrollment Form (yes, there is paperwork involved):
    https://www.nhsaves.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2018-ENERGY-STAR-HOMES-Enrollment-form-NHSAVES.pdf

  22. John Williams | | #22

    hi T,

    thanks for the input. just curious, whereabouts are you located? and is there a particular protocol you follow to achieve such a good ACH, even with a "lesser" window? my guy is good and willing/excited to learn. i'd be more than happy to stick with anderson 400's if i knew my overall build would still achieve a high level of efficiency AND comfort. i know i'm caught up in the marketing of the windows but also am anxious about making "mistakes" as this process will likely be the only home i ever build and let's face it, im stuck with my decisions, beyond paint colors etc.

    and thanks martin for the link, ill run by my contractor

  23. T Carlson | | #23

    WI on the zone 6-7 border.

    I've got a system, basically I know exactly where the "red line" is on anything I'm building and exterior sheathing is always my primary air barrier. Sealing occurs during and after framing although I do 90% after framing. I don't do interior OSB, pretty standard frame that is optimized during layout.

    I think the key has to be 1 person is responsible and directs the sealing and this person has to be lead framer or onsite super or really experienced builder owner to have the flexibility to step aside and do some sealing ahead of or after certain assemblies are built, have to he ability to stop work and take a minute to do some sealing, and that person needs to be able to have the ability to see the house three dimensionally in his or her head to keep the air barrier identified and intact when junctures get a little complicated. I treat it as a game for everyone with the blower door test as the grand finale, then everyone gets invested on how well we did.

    There's an inside and an outside, don't let the outside come inside.

  24. Peter Staecker | | #24

    John, the quote you show from Schuco lists a Ug of 0.10. That sounds like a glazing number and not glazing + frame. Martin has warned of the difficulties in comparing European U's with the U-factors you see on NFRC labels. Do you have a specific (or average over all your windows) number in mind for your U-factor? Thanks for starting this conversation, and best of luck in meeting your goal

  25. Justin Gibbs | | #25

    The recently introduced Tyrol line from Alpen is another option for tilt and turn windows. Alpen also has a unique capillary tube system that allows them to ship gas filled windows to any altitude. Even though Alpen is just down the street from our build site, we wanted to ship our windows to Walpole, NH for installation at the Bensonwood factory. The system tolerated installation and two cross country trips. Our only other alternatives were air filled windows from other manufacturers (open capillary tubes during transit) or taking the schedule hit to install the windows onsite.

  26. Ben Balcombe | | #26

    Breathing life back into this thread, I'd be curious to know what the OP went with? I put three Intus windows in during a remodel a couple of years ago that we purchased through Performance Building Supply. Contacted them a couple of weeks ago to get a price on replace the remaining windows in our house and found out they've moved to Schuco, but also they have a minimum order limit of $20,000 so they're not an option for our ~$5000 job.

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