Research: Window to the future

Homeowner window-buying habits changing as more emphasize energy efficiency.

May 28, 2014

Remodeling and replacement projects that involve windows remain stable since last year but window replacement work is expected to increase slightly in the next 2-3 years, according to the 2014 Professional Remodeler Window Trends survey conducted this spring. Despite the moderate projection, many remodelers report window and door replacement projects remain a critical aspect of their remodeling projects.

Ninety-eight percent of the remodelers who responded to our survey said at least some of their projects during the last year included replacement windows. Seventeen percent of remodelers are getting at least half of their business from window replacement.

“In my area, window replacement and installation has picked up tremendously and my clients rely on my experience when it comes to helping them decide what windows best fit their needs,” said one New York-based remodeler.

WINDOW TRENDS

We asked remodelers about the major trends they are seeing in window projects. Here is some of what we heard:
“There are more impact-rated and requests for low-e."
“High-end windows for energy efficiency.”
“Price is No. 1. Styling, operation, overall appearance also factors.”
“Since the tax credits have expired, window market has been flat. Homeowners are now replacing their doors.”
“Homeowners want quality windows because they plan to stay in their homes longer.”
“Tax credits helped but they were far too small to make a difference or influence and initiate a sale.”
“Our window replacements are typically part of a much larger project. Rarely are we getting calls just to replace windows.”
“High-end aluminum impact windows are being specified and installed.”
“Clients want energy-efficient windows but price drives their decision.”
“My customers are looking for a quality product that will provide years of trouble free service.”

The aging housing stock and the fact homeowners are opting to remodel their homes rather than relocate has also impacted window sales.

“Due to the age of the housing stock, many homes that were built 15 to 20 years ago need window replacement. The clients are opting for the most energy-efficient window and are not concerned with the tax credits,” said a Texas remodeler.

Window tax credits are no longer a driver for sales as they have dissolved in some markets or have little-to-no impact on the total window replacement and remodeling costs paid by homeowners.

“The tax credits had some impact but it was negligible in our market. Windows continue to be an item that impact many of our projects, and we continue to urge clients to upgrade their windows,” said an Idaho remodeler.

Survey respondents were asked to compare their current window-related business with that of one year ago. Twenty-four percent of respondents indicated their business was “up,” 26 percent reported their business was “down,” and 50 percent reported their business as “unchanged” compared with a year ago. Comparatively, the results from the 2013 Professional Remodeler Window Trends survey found 29 percent of remodelers reported an increase in business, 25 percent said business was off, and 46 percent indicated their window business remained “unchanged” from the previous year.

“Our window sales did drop some in the last two years due to the cut of the tax credit; however, the colder winter may have helped homeowners realize they need to invest in new energy-efficient windows,” said an Illinois remodeler.

Energy-efficient windows driving sales

As the brutally cold winter sent heating bills skyrocketing, some remodelers are banking on homeowners replacing their aging windows with energy-efficient models in an effort to tighten their home’s envelope.

“There’s more emphasis on energy efficiency and the price point for preferred windows is increasing. More people are opting for higher end windows,” said a California remodeler.

When asked about energy-efficient window technology, 99 percent of respondents indicated they have specified at least one type of energy-efficient window in the past year. Ninety percent of remodelers have specified insulated double-pane windows with low-e coating, argon or krypton filled windows were specified by 69 percent of respondents, and 40 percent specified insulated frames.

As in years past, price remains the top driver when it comes to the type of windows that are specified for a replacement project.

“Price point still drives choices more than we like,” said a Colorado remodeler.

“It’s hard to get homeowners to buy good windows. We can usually sell them on a lower-end window, but there has been resistance buying a higher-quality window,” said a Pennsylvania remodeler.

As in past surveys, remodelers in the South and West continue to be most likely to install windows with some sort of energy-saving feature due to the fact the climate is warmer and low-e coatings deflect heat. Triple-pane windows remain popular in colder climates, especially the Midwest and Northeast. The extra insulation can help combat severe cold temperatures during the winter months.

Popular types of window frames

Vinyl, wood, and aluminum remain the leaders in regard to the type of windows installed. Ninety-one percent of respondents specified vinyl windows, 88 percent specified wood windows, and 77 percent specified aluminum windows. Twenty-one percent of remodelers reported installing vinyl windows on all of projects, and 70 percent use vinyl windows on at least some of their projects.

Windows made of wood were installed on 14 percent of all projects, and 76 percent installed wood windows on at least some of their projects. Eleven percent of remodelers installed aluminum windows on all projects, and 45 percent used aluminum windows on some projects.

Window specifications

Sixty-seven percent of remodelers indicated the client relies on them to make all window material and brand recommendations. The client comes to the remodeler with a specific material chosen but the remodeler helps the homeowner chose the brand only 16 percent of the time.

METHODOLOGY

189 remodelers answered this survey via the Internet in April 2014. Participants were a random sample of subscribers to Professional Remodeler print and digital editions

Fifteen percent of remodelers said the client comes to them with a specific brand or material in mind and the remodeler influences their decision.

Only 2 percent of respondents indicated the client has a specific brand and material chosen for the remodeler to install. PR

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