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Albany, New York Window Replacement Guide
Considering most windows last between 10 and 40 years, homeowners can expect to have to replace them only once or twice in their lifetime. Because of this, when it does come time to upgrade, the task can feel daunting. There are so many different window options on the market and varying permit regulations to consider. Plus, you can expect to spend $300 to $700 per window on average which will certainly begin to add up quickly, making it more important that you understand what is necessary before beginning a renovation project of this magnitude.
Due to the amount of inclement weather that Albany gets annually, it is imperative to find windows that can withstand blizzards as well as the intense summer sun, all while remaining energy efficient. The City of Albany has strict permit regulations and mandatory inspections that may determine whether you want to attempt to do it yourself or hire on a contractor.
This Albany Window Replacement Guide will help usher you through the process by examining how to know that a replacement is necessary, the different materials that are available, and all that is required to perform the job legally.
How to Know When a Window Replacement is Necessary in Your Albany Home
If your home is over 30 years old, it is most likely time for a replacement, but age is not the only factor to consider. Albany averages over 59 inches of snowfall and over 39 inches of rain annually, and weather like that can certainly add extra wear and tear on your windows. If your windows have begun to rot or leak, or cannot open and close properly, then replacing them is probably necessary to maintain your home’s property value as well as ensuring your safety.
All that snow brings with it a frigid cold that can linger for months. In homes that have single pane windows, this cold can translate into expensive utility bills, and it would behoove your monthly budget to have the windows replaced with an option that is more energy efficient.
Window Materials Matter in Albany
When considering which type of window you would like in your home, you will need to decide on what material the window framing is made from, single versus a dual pane window, and any sort of specialized energy efficiency coating.
Aluminum, wood, and vinyl are your three main options for frames. Hands down your best option in Albany is wood, especially if you have historic hardwood windows. In fact, one of the worst things a homeowner could do would be to take out a historic window that is in good condition. These hardwood windows are incredibly insulating and were built by expert craftsman who were far more attentive to their product than their modern factory-produced counterparts.
If you find yourself in this situation and are still looking to improve your energy efficiency, consider installing exterior storm windows with a low emissivity (low-E) coating. These windows are easy to install, averaging about 20 to 30 minutes per window, and are significantly cheaper than a full window replacement is (roughly $60 to $200 per window for your overall cost). You should expect to see an energy saving of 12 to 33 percent annually with the addition of these storm windows.
If you do not have hardwood windows and a full replacement is in order, then opt for windows that have the Energy Star designation with a low U-value and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). The U-value measures the rate at which a window is able to conduct heat flow from the exterior of your home to the interior and vise versa. SHGC operates in much the same way, except that it deals with solar radiation rather than heat. The lower the U-value and SHGC are, the more energy efficient the window is. In Albany, you should ideally look for these values to be 0.3 or lower. Virtually all of the windows that fit this criteria will be gas-filled, double-paned windows that have a low-E coating.
Permits, Inspections, and Fees for Window Replacement in Albany
Before beginning your project, the city of Albany requires you to obtain a building permit which can be done at the Buildings & Regulatory Compliance office located at 200 Henry Johnson Blvd, First Floor, Suite #1, Albany, NY 12210. Most permits are issued over the counter at the time of application. However, in cases where buildings are located in historic or overlay zoned areas, the applicant is required to submit an application and a photograph of the front of your home to the Planning Department for their approval. You can expect this process to take 7 to 10 days. It’s important to find out where your home’s zoned district is. Also, if any of the windows being replaced require a structural change, you will need to submit two sets of plans that have been signed and stamped by a NYS licensed engineer or architect.
A fee will be assessed at the same time you apply for the permit. For most of the city, the fee is $125 on jobs estimated at $5000 and under. For renovations over $5000, the fee is $125 plus an additional $6 per extra $1000. However, if you are in a historic zone, the fees are structured differently and you will need to contact the Buildings & Regulatory Compliance office at (518) 434-5165 or via general email at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine the amount due.
Once the renovation is completed, an inspection will need to be scheduled with a city inspector. This can be done by calling the office during business hours as well.
All of these requirements can be a bit tricky, though not insurmountable; if you plan on making this a DIY project, be sure to check out the City of Albany’s website for more information. However, if you choose to hire a licensed contractor, he or she will make sure that everything is done to code.