Builders, remodelers and other contractors can tout a number of selling factors when they use high-quality windows and doors. Chief among them are energy savings that bring return on investment.
"New homes that include energy-efficient features such as windows and doors offer strong marketing opportunities and can be a sign of higher-quality construction," says Elizabeth Souders, public relations manager at JELD-WEN of Klamath Falls, Ore., a manufacturer of windows and doors.
Benefits include regulating energy costs, bringing in light and creating ambience in the home. Window and door upgrades offer a potential return on investment that ranges from 84 percent to 106 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine and the National Real Estate Appraisers Association. These figures are on par with a kitchen or bathroom remodel, Souders says.
Jeff Lowinski, president of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association in Des Plaines, Ill., says experts estimate that 75 percent to 80 percent of home heat loss or gain is through windows, not walls. "Building codes are driving the trend, and manufacturers are responding by providing tighter and higher energy-efficient products," Lowinski said.
The U-value measurement for heat loss can also be used as a marketing tool, with lower U-factors indicating better insulation qualities. Many double-paned, argon-filled windows render U-values as low as 0.30, Lowinski says.
Souders offers these design tips for adding value to projects:
1. Style matters. Pay attention to historic style. "The best investments tend to be those styles considered timeless and enduring. Ever-popular design classics such as Craftsman and Old World endure and offer value over the long run," she says. "Historical accuracy and architectural correctness are essential."
Provide options that incorporate the architectural style of the home. A number of manufacturers continue to innovate with design and color options.
2. Offer upgrades that homeowners want and care about. Go for quality and special touches. For example, an ornate carved front door, available even in fiberglass today, can be a big selling point for a home.
Pay attention to regional needs, especially when it comes to energy efficiency and coastal considerations. In hurricane country, windows and doors require superior flashing and impeccable caulking. Many manufacturers offer impact-resistant glazing and windows. The WinGuard line from PGT, for instance, uses a flexible plastic layer between two panes of glass to guard against breakage. Low-E (low-emissivity) coating and argon-gas-filled windows are suitable for extreme climates with harsh cold or severe heat.
Performance matters. Use low-maintenance products with long warranties. JELD-WEN offers a 20-year warranty against wood decay and insect damage with its windows and doors made with Aura Last wood.
Noise reduction is important, too. U.S. Census research has found that noise is the top neighborhood complaint among homeowners. Some interior doors use technology that reduces noise by up to 50 percent compared with hollow interior doors.
3. Choose materials wisely. Consider attractive, low-maintenance alternatives. To this end, many builders prefer vinyl, fiberglass and other composite materials. Vinyl represents more than 50 percent of the replacement-window market for residential remodeling.
In doors, fiberglass is increasingly common. It offers easy care, strength and resistance to warping and fading in extreme weather conditions. And Souders says JELD-WEN's Aurora custom fiberglass doors are visually indistinguishable from wood.
"When it comes to affordable style, architects, builders and remodelers must consider overall value," Souders says. "Not just how they will look but how the products they recommend will perform over time."
Marcia Jedd writes frequently about design and construction issues.
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