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Buying Windows in New Jersey
Deciding to update your windows is the first of many home improvement choices to be made. You’ll need to consider the aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve, how to maximize energy efficient options, and which window contractor to hire. It can feel overwhelming at times. However, there are professionals ready to help you. From finding a contractor, to deciding on the best window frame for your home, use this guide to help navigate the world of window renovations.
New Jersey Window Contractors
Any contractor must be registered and licensed to perform any type of home renovation projects in the state of New Jersey. If the contractor doesn’t mention their licensing status, make sure to confirm that they are in fact licensed and registered. Below are a few Do’s and Don’t’s when it comes to finding a contractor in New Jersey:
- Do make sure they carry the proper amount of insurance and meet the requirements set by New Jersey and that they are in good standing with the state.
- Do read reviews and testimonials from former clients in your area.
- Do ask about their experience and to see examples of the types of homes they’ve worked on.
- Do read the contract carefully before signing and do ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
- Don’t sign the contract if it is missing important information regarding the work to be done, or if there is anything in it you don’t agree with.
- Don’t sign with the first contractor you find without getting quotes from other contractors in your city, first.
- Don’t hire a contractor who is not registered and licensed in New Jersey.
Window Permits for New Jersey
After you have signed the contract and discussed your renovation goals with your contractor, it’s time to look into whether or not you will need a permit for this project. Permits are not required if you are simply replacing the glass in your windows, although the new glass must meet minimum requirements set by New Jersey. So, if you don’t plan on altering the size or placement of your window and framing, you won’t need a permit. However, if you plan on adding a new window or changing dimensions of a current window make sure you do apply for the proper permit.
How to Prepare for Window Renovation
A common mistake for first time home renovators is to underestimate how long it will take to prepare the area for renovation. Hopefully your contractor will tell you to clear the room(s) that will be worked on, but that may not happen until the first day of construction. Always schedule a little more space in your timeline than you think you’ll need. It may end up that you don’t need it, but it will prevent the project from being delayed at least.
Some things, like removing shutters or awnings on the outside of your house, you may be able to ask your contractor to take care of. However, it is recommended that you handle as much of the interior preparation ahead of time in order to stay on track.
- Take down any curtains, curtain rods, window blinds or shades on the windows being worked on. If you plan on reusing them, move them to an area where they can be cleaned and stored until they are ready to be rehung.
- If you have any area rugs or floor carpets, roll them up and move them to another part of the home. This can also be a good excuse to take them outside and beat any excess dust out of them.
- Relocate any fragile items to areas of the home that won’t be disturbed. Items such as vases, collectibles, art and picture frames should be moved.
- If you have any pets, be sure to keep them away from the area while workers are present. If a pet gets underfoot, it can be dangerous for all parties involved.
Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency
New Jersey has a moderate climate due in part to being flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Delaware River on the other. This means summers are warm and humid and winters are very cold. The north and south parts of New Jersey have noticeably different temperatures during the late winter months.
There are several ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. The first is by opting for double (or triple) pane windows. These windows provide more insulation than single pane because of the argon gas between each pane. This will save a lot of money during the winter, because it protects against heat loss during the cold winters.
Many windows offer the choice of a low-E coating. This technology protects you and your home from ultraviolet rays coming through the window. While it keeps your furniture and photographs from fading, it also keeps your home cool during the summer. Natural light is not affected, and the same amount comes in whether you opt for the low-E coating or not.
Choosing the right window frame for your home is also an important choice that affects energy efficiency. Below are the most common window frame options, in order of least energy efficient to most:
- Wooden window frames require the most maintenance and offer the least insulation because they expand and contract depending on the weather.
- Aluminum window frames conduct heat which can increase energy bills during the summer. However, it is a very light and strong material that does not require a lot of maintenance.
- Vinyl window frames can have insulation added to increase energy efficiency. Vinyl is used frequently because it is very moisture resistant and is durable as well. It doesn’t require a lot of maintenance due in part to being the same color throughout- meaning if it gets chipped or scratched you don’t have to repaint it.
- Fiberglass window frames are extremely energy efficient. They are not as affected by thermal energy as other materials, which means they do not expand or contract with the temperature. Because this is a similar property of glass, the seal between fiberglass window frames and the windows can remain tighter for a longer period of time. Like vinyl, insulation can be injected into the frame, reducing energy bills considerably.
What To Know About Window Ratings
When you purchase new windows, most energy efficient windows will have a sticker on it depicting ratings determined by The National Fenestration Rating Council, or NFRC. To understand the sticker, and any terms your contractor may say, the definitions are shared below. These stickers may not be on every window, but they will be on those who have passed the appropriate tests to be rated as energy efficient windows.
- U-Factor- rating measures the indoor heat that can escape from the house. Look for a low U-Factor rating, because the lower the number, the warmer the home- especially important during winter.
- Visible Transmittance (VT)- rating measures the amount of natural light that comes through this window. Higher numbers mean more natural light comes into the home. Remember, if you choose to add low-E coating to your windows, your VT rating is not affected.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)- rating measures the amount of outside heat that comes into your home via the windows. Keep this rating in mind for summer months, and when choosing windows that will face the south or have a lot of direct sunlight.
- Air Leakage- ratings the easiest to understand. The lower the air leakage rating, the lower amount of air that will leak into your home from the window. If you currently have drafty windows, chances are you would have a high air leakage rating, according to the NFRC.