New windows are an expensive investment, easily costing $300 to $1,000 per window, and most homebuyers don’t factor in window costs when searching for a new home. However, if you’re aware of what to look for when touring a home, you can spot windows that may need repair or replacement. Here are things to pay attention to:
1. Windows that are difficult to open and close. You might not be able to test every window in the house, but try some out. If you are unsure, you can ask permission.
2. Damage to window frames. Look for signs of water damage, rotted wood, or recently made repairs, both inside and outside.
3. Missing hardware. Most hardware can be replaced, including cranks for casement windows, but if the hardware is missing, it could be a sign that the window does not work properly.
4. Foggy double-pane windows. Condensation between the panes of glass means the seal has been broken and the energy efficiency of the window has been compromised.
5. Single-pane windows. This is a sign that the windows are fairly old and not very energy efficient. New double-pane windows are much more energy efficient.
Consider future maintenance when surveying the windows. Wood windows need to be scraped and painted every few years. If new windows are an option, there are number of low-maintenance models available, including vinyl, fiberglass, and composite, as well as wood windows where the wood is exposed inside but covered with vinyl or aluminum outside to protect it from the elements.
If you get to the stage of the buying process where you visit the property with a home inspector, point out any concerns you have.
While you may not have planned to spend money for window fixes as a new homeowner, you’ll benefit in the long run by having a more energy-efficient home.
Fran J. Donegan writes on home improvement for Home Depot. Fran is a longtime DIY author and has written several books, including Paint Your Home. To review a number of window installation options, you can visit homedepot.com.