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Window Buying Guide for North Carolina
North Carolina property owners seeking to purchase new windows for their home or business should first become familiar with the project requirements. Important considerations are necessary before making a new window purchase for a newly constructed home or when replacing existing windows. Careful planning and preparation is required to ensure the project runs smoothly and that you purchase the right type of window for your property. Things to consider include: adhering to local building codes, hiring a reputable window contractor, and selecting appropriate window glass and frames. In addition, this buying guide will point you towards programs available in your area that could reduce the out-of-pocket expenses associated with window installation.
North Carolina Window Styles and Frame Materials
Purchasing new windows in North Carolina means you will face some tough decisions regarding material types and window styles. In this section, you will find a breakdown of the different frame materials and common window styles to help get you started on your project.
- Single Hung windows incorporate a fixed sash, usually the upper, and an operable lower sash to provide room ventilation.
- A Double Hung Window is a window type where both the upper and lower sashes are operable.
- Bay windows are fabricated by mulling two side windows together with a larger, center section at between 30 and 45 degrees extending outward from the building. Often, homeowners utilize the extra interior space created by the Bay window as a bench top seating area with underneath storage.
- Box windows are similar to Bay windows with the difference being they take on a more rounded shape because more window sections are mulled together at lesser degrees.
- Double slider windows utilize two window sashes that slide horizontally. This type of window is also available with a single slide option where only one-sash slides and a 3-lite version with the outer sashes operable.
- A casement window uses a hinged sash operated by an interior crank or handle that allows the user to open the window a full 90 degrees for maximum ventilation. Colonial casement windows operate the same as a traditional casement window with the difference being a decorative meeting rail to enhance its appearance.
- Picture windows are fixed panes of glass that do not include any operation. Often they are strategically placed to enhance property views.
- Awning windows utilize hinges mounted at the top of the sash. This allows the window bottom to swing out when open. A crank or handle located at the base operates the window.
- Garden windows are those types of windows that extend outwards, away from the frame and incorporate side, top and bottom panes to create a box. They are designed to invite sunshine and showcase plants or herb gardens.
- Geometric windows are fixed panels of glass that do not open or shut. They are available in many shapes and sizes and are commonly used over entryways, stairwells or any other area where natural light is desired.
- Skylights are fixed or operable windows installed in ceiling areas. Their main function is to allow natural light to enhance interior areas.
Window Panes and Glazing
- Single pane or single glazed windows utilize a single layer of clear glass that is typically 4mm thick.
- Double glazed windows incorporate two panes of glass with an air or gas-filled layer in between. Typically, the gas is argon but some manufacturer’s use krypton.
- Triple-glazed windows utilize a third layer of glass and subsequent argon gases that increases energy and noise reduction capabilities significantly.
Window Frame Material
- Vinyl framed windows are made of PVC “polyvinyl chloride” and have quickly become the most popular window frame material among building contractors. The tough, rigid plastic never fades, peels, chips or requires maintenance.
- Fiberglass and plastic framed windows incorporate the best attributes from each material. The fiberglass elements stiffen the window and allow it to be painted, which is an attractive option for some property owners.
- Wood framed or wood-clad windows are wooden frames protected with a vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass jacket covering the exterior surfaces for added protection from outside elements. They allow you to showcase their beautiful, wood grain interiors with maximum protection on the outside.
The level of energy efficiency you choose will depend on certain factors applicable to your area, budget and climate. Many factors contribute to a window’s energy efficiency such as double or triple paned glass, Low-E coatings and frame material. Before making a new window purchase, you should check state and local building codes or contact your local building department to determine efficiency requirements.
Coastal cities may also require the installation of hurricane rated/impact resistant windows. Contact your local building department to learn about new or replacement window requirements in your coastal community.
Window Permitting Requirements in North Carolina
Replacing existing windows when the opening or structure is not altered does not require a building permit in most municipalities. However, new construction applications or window installations that require alterations to the structure require a building permit. Before starting your window project, cover the bases and verify permitting requirements with your local building department. A homeowner starting a project that requires a building permit without first obtaining it faces the potential of paying double for the permit as well as other applicable fees and fines. Building permits and inspections ensure that all building practices adhere to the North Carolina State Building Code.
Rebates and Incentives for North Carolina
A new window installation project may require a significant out-of-pocket expense, especially for whole house installations. In addition, you might encounter unforeseen circumstances during the installation process that increase the cost of the project such as damaged drywall, rotten studs or concrete and stucco repair. To reduce out-of-pocket expense, it is to your benefit to take advantage of cost-cutting incentive programs available in North Carolina. Many state and city localities in North Carolina as well as the federal government have realized the value to energy conservation, and they have set in place home improvement rebates and incentives designed to promote energy efficiency. These programs often include window replacement when the windows meet a set criteria of energy efficiency.
- Search for available rebates and incentive programs in North Carolina by visiting the “DSIRE” Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website by clicking here.
- Visit energy.gov for a comprehensive list of tax credits, rebates and savings available to North Carolina residents.
- Find incentives and rebates for energy efficient windows offered through utility and state programs in North Carolina by clicking here.
Where to Buy Windows in North Carolina
Property owners have many options from which to choose when purchasing new windows for their home or business in North Carolina. Home improvement centers, window supply companies and manufacturers are the most common. You can purchase windows individually or in whole house packages. Many retailers offer installation services as well. You can shop online or visit their showroom in person, but they will require a precise measurement of each opening before you place an order. Unless you are purchasing a popular size they carry in stock, one of their representatives will be assigned to measure your property accordingly. This provides a layer of protection for both you and the manufacturer by ensuring that once the windows are fabricated, they will fit easily into existing window openings. One advantage to purchasing windows through a home improvement center is they sometimes offer their own rebates, incentives and special financing options to acquire your business, which can help to reduce the overall project costs.
North Carolina Window Contractors
The State of North Carolina requires that all residential and building contractors operating in the state be licensed, certified and carry the proper type and amount of insurance coverage. Hiring the right contractor is important as there are many who fall short of the strict, statewide requirements. You can verify the legality of potential North Carolina contractors and verify the status of their license online by visiting The North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.
Paying for New Windows in North Carolina
Paying for your new window purchase may require a substantial upfront investment. Property owners who do not have the necessary cash to cover the out-of-pocket expense can finance their purchase. As mentioned above, large window retailers often offer financing to attract your business. Their rates are competitive to or better than traditional financing options. Banks and other lending institutions offer HELOC’s “Home Equity Lines of Credit” to North Carolina property owners with some lenders providing attractive or reduced rates for energy efficient home & business improvement projects.
Return on Window Investment
Installing new or replacing old windows in your home or business provides a good “ROI” return on investment. In addition to increasing the aesthetic appeal of your property, a new window installation will increase its value. Inoperable, inefficient and dated or broken windows can have a negative affect on property values. Replacing them with newer, more efficient windows of today provides you with a substantial marketing tool should you ever decide to sell the property.
Now that you’ve completed your window installation project you can increase your property’s energy efficiency with a home energy audit. Many utility companies offer free home energy audits or substantial rebates to reduce out-of-pocket expense. An energy audit identifies areas of your home that allow conditioned air to escape or require additional insulation. Sealing your home properly reduces energy loss, reduces energy costs and reduces greenhouse gases that harm our environment.
By doing your homework and planning your window installation project carefully, you can achieve a professional result, increase your property value and realize reduced energy costs.