What I Learned about How to Buy Windows for Your House

If you haven’t had to buy replacement windows for your house recently (or at all) be prepared for sticker shock. Here’s what I’ve learned, and here’s what we did. Note that we first spoke with several different window companies, including Clearwater and Home Depot (I’m including an explanation of Home Depot windows versus having Home Depot install the windows – think that $149 per window is a deal? It’s not – it doesn’t even apply to windows you order through Home Depot – but more on that shortly).

how to buy new windows

We recently needed to replace the windows on our house – nearly all of the windows (12), because they are very old, drafty, don’t slide well, and in some cases are cracked. In fact, they were the original windows with which this house was built, back in the 70s. Aluminum frames, many dented or even bent… you get the idea. We were also going to replace a sliding patio door.

Because we have a friend who works at Clearwater, we wanted to go with them if possible – we really did. So we arranged for a Clearwater Exteriors sales person to come to our house, along with our friend (who is not a sales person).

This is when we got the sticker shock of our lives. Even with the ‘friends and family’ discount (which to be fair they were going to give us), if we wanted top quality windows it was going to be over $18000 dollars. If you’re playing along at home, that works out to well over $1000 per window.

Then we started checking around, asking neighbors, reading online reviews, etc., and quickly realized that every window company is going to send over a sales person (“for a free estimate”). And we discovered that they all use the same high pressure sales tactic (think ‘car salesman’), and that no matter what window company we used it was going to cost us well over $17000.

This is when we started thinking creatively and looking for other options.

Several neighbors had recommended going through Home Depot, based on their own experiences with Home Depot, and, as it happened, Home Depot was having a 15% off everything sale, and they were advertising installation for only $149 per window!

So we grabbed our window measurements, and went to Home Depot to order windows.

The first thing that I need to tell you at this juncture is that if you are going to call or go into Home Depot, the department you want is called “millwork” (which is basically jargon for ‘building material’).

But the second thing that I need to share with you is the big thing.

We got to Home Depot, measurements in hand, and sat down with one of their window people. We gave them the measurements, picked out the brand, style and quality of window that we wanted, and put together an order. It came to about $6000. We hadn’t actually ordered it yet, when we had this conversation with the Home Depot person (“HDP”):

Us: Ok (pointing to big sign that says “Window installation only $149 per window”) now we’re going to get this $149 installation price, right?”

HDP: Oh, no, that only applies if you order your windows through our Home Depot Exteriors company. We don’t have an installation service for windows that you order directly through Home Depot.

Let me repeat what the Home Depot person said again, just so you really catch it:

“that only applies if you order your windows through our Home Depot Exteriors company.”

and

“We don’t have an installation service for windows that you order directly through Home Depot.”

Home Depot Exteriors is a completely different organization that is in direct competition with, you guessed it, Clearwater Exterior, Anderson Windows, and other window companies that are going to try to pressure you into buying a big dollar window package.

And, in fact, just to be sure, we scheduled a ‘free estimate’ with Home Depot Exteriors, and their estimate came in at around $17000, including that $149 per window installation (in other words, they make it up on the windows – the exact same windows you can go into your friendly neighborhood Home Depot and order directly. But then of course you have to somehow get the windows installed, and you are on your own there.)

Fortunately for us, we have a neighbor who is in the window and door business. He came highly recommended by several neighbors, and so we contacted him and asked him whether he would be willing to install windows for us that we had purchased ourselves. And because he is wonderful, he said yes, and we agreed on a price that was fair to him, and also to us. While he of course couldn’t give us a warranty on the windows themselves, he still gave us a warranty on the installation. And the window brand that we chose at Home Depot – Milgard – comes with a lifetime warranty on the product.

By ordering the windows directly through Home Depot (not Home Depot Exteriors) and having a professional window installer install them for us, we saved at least $5000 off even the most ‘conservative’ estimate, and we got a top-of-the-line window product to boot.

If you happen to be in Colorado, let me tell you one more thing. We first went to the Longmont Home Depot, where the person who took our original window order (where we learned that the $149 installation didn’t apply) was very nice, but knew very little. In fact, he originally told us that we would get the $149 installation price with our order, but that we would have to contact “this person for the installation” (handing us a card). Turns out that “this person” was the Home Depot Exteriors guy, who of course informed us that we would have to go through them to get the windows, and turned on the high pressure sales charm.

Then we went to the store in Superior, after calling them and being assured that someone in millwork would be there all day. We arrived a bit after 2:00pm, couldn’t find anyone, had them paged, waited some more, and finally found someone who knew where everyone in millwork was: gone. They had all left early for the day.

We finally went to the Boulder store, where the awesome Miriam helped us place our order. She was very knowledgeable, and assured us that she was there 6 days as week, from 9 to 5 at least.

So, the morals of this story are two-fold:

1. If you can find someone to install them, order your windows through Home Depot, but stay away from Home Depot Exterors, and

2. If you are in Colorado and it’s local enough for you, go to the Boulder Home Depot and ask for Miriam.

The Smell of Books

I went to the library today – it was the first time that I’d been there in a few months, and when I walked in, I was immediately struck by the smell.

Now, I don’t mean that the library smelled bad. Quite the opposite.

It was the smell of books, and it was heavenly – almost heady.

There’s just something about the smell of books – it’s the smell of literature, the smell of information – it’s the smell of knowledge.

Walking down the stacks is a sensory experience to which nothing else compares. The smell of the books – the rows and rows and rows – the feel of their heft in your hands.

When I was at university, I did a research project for which I got to use original source materials. Where I went to university they had an amazing collection of old books, and when I tread – oh so lightly and in an almost euphoric state – among the stacks of the old book collection, it was like being in the presence of history itself. Books that I picked up and opened were from other centuries, and had leather bindings, gold leaf letters, and unslit pages.

I was humbled.

And they smelled divine.

Now don’t get me wrong – I really like my Kindle too.

But nothing – ever – will take the place of books.

I Call 911 and Thankfully It Is Not a False Alarm

I was out with two colleagues last evening, turning what had been a pitiful excuse for an executive networking event into a very productive Internet and affiliate marketing business meeting. We were sitting in the outdoor dining area of 1010 in Boulder, on Walnut (it was quieter outside than in, so we could talk), when I realized I smelled….a lit fireplace? No, I was outside.

Then Gail, who was facing the street said “is that smoke coming from across the street?!” (I had my back to the street – I know, not safe given how many enemies I have).

We all look, and by golly it is. I reach for my phone, and Sopan gets up and goes into the restaurant and tells a waiter. Rather than calling 911, the waiter inexplicably comes out to the patio to look for himself.

There then ensues a debate about whether it’s a fire, or maybe someone is cooking up on the roof (not entirely implausible as the Med restaurant is on the ground floor of the building in question, and some restaurants in Boulder do have rooftop dining). Meanwhile smoke is clearly billowing, not just whisping as if someone were cooking.

Well, you all know me – I’m an action kinda gal, so I grabbed my phone, ducked under the railing while dialing 911, and ran across the street to the building, and went into the restaurant to ask them was there any known reason for the smoke on their roof. While I’m entering the restaurant, and quizzing a staff member there, I’m also telling the 911 dispatcher the coordinates – she is waiting to hear what the restaurant employee says.

“Smoke on our roof? That’s not good,” he says, and runs off to find the manager.

I relay to dispatch that the smoke billowing off the ceiling is not intentional, and she advises me to leave the building (I already am) and says that the fire department is already on its way.

I cross back over to the other side of the street to join my colleagues, turn to look..and..the smoke is gone. I kid you not.

Now I find myself in the unusual moral dilemma of wanting there to be a fire – or at least smoke – so that I haven’t just called in a false alarm, and, of course, not really wanting there to be a fire.

(Sidenote: I know a lot of people who face this same quandry in their dating habits.)

Fortunately, exactly the right thing happens to satisfy all requirements for moral and ethical serenity – the smoke starts up again (or maybe it never stopped, we just couldn’t see the smoke for the tree in the way), and there is fire but, as you’ll see, not one that had become serious.

The trucks arrive (3 of them!), and the firemen approach the roof – some by stair, and some in the cherry picker! That was very cool to watch!

They were there for well over an hour – maybe two – time flies when your enthralled, and eventually they all come down from the roof and start packing up. I’m still too embarrassed that maybe, still, I had wasted their time, and so despite the urgings of my colleagues, I don’t go ask one of the firefighters what it was. So Gail does.

It turns out that there was a fire – in the chimney – as a result of a not-entirely-properly-completed (?) cleaning of the wood- fired brick fireplace in the restaurant.’

So it was good that I called.

And it was good that it wasn’t actually a roof fire.

My colleagues also insisted that I take pictures – which of course didn’t come out as it was dark, and there were bright emergency lights, and it was a phone camera. But here they are.

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Remember that Lincoln Continental Commercial with the Diamond Cutter in the Back Seat? Well Check This Out!

Remember that Lincoln Continental commercial, from way back when – the one with the master diamond cutter in the back seat, cutting a hugely valuable diamond? The idea was that the Lincoln delivered such a smooth ride that the diamond cutter could cut the diamond even in the back of a moving car.

(And remember SNL’s spoof of that same commercial, with the Rabbi in the back, performing a bris?)

Well, the Lincoln, the diamond cutter, and the Rabbi ain’t got nothing on me.
Recently I went, with my family, to the grocery store. In said grocery store they have a Starbucks counter. I got a beverage, and then walked out to the car, beverage in hand, along with several bags of groceries.

After loading the car, we got in, and drove off. A few minutes later, now out of the parking lot, I reached for my drink … and it wasn’t there.

Holy cow! I’d left it on the roof of the car!

But, I didn’t remember seeing it fall off!

Incredulous, I stopped the car – uh, very carefully – and got out, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?

An upright, full cup full of Starbucks good cheer!

On the roof!

My husband had better not ever criticize my driving again!

Here’s a pic, in case you want proof.

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o/` o/` It’s a Cross to the Left.. and Jab to the Right….

Ohmygosh! I learned how to box today as part of my physical therapy training! (I’m doing my PT at a regular gym now.)

I learned to jab, throw a right cross and a left hook…and footwork..I followed my trainer around the room throwing jabs and crosses and hooks and it was SO much fun!!

And a heck of an upper body, core, and cardio workout!

Highly recommended!

The Elk of Estes Park Including Video of Them Bugling

Today we went to Estes Park, Colorado, to see the elk and hear the elk bugling.

Wow! I had no idea what a treat we were in for!

I had wondered how I’d know where to find the elk – someone we know who lives in Estes Park said not to worry – and they were right!

We drove through the center of town, along one of the main streets, and did a double take…

This is someone’s lawn – check out their lawn ornament:

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That’s some lawn ornament!:

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Then we found a small herd near some other houses:

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A baby elk getting a nuzzle from momma (laying down):

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This is the male:

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Isn’t he just absolutely gorgeous?

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Apparently he’s not as impressed with us:

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Little did we know that we had yet to discover where the elk really were!
When we found it, we were just stunned. It was incredible. ‘

Not everyone finds it so fantastic though – because they were hanging out on the local golf course. I guess that admiring wildlife isn’t fore everybody.

Here is the herd at the golf course, which is right in the middle of town, near a main intersection – basically like the village green. Note the houses in the background. And behind us is the highway. They are basically right in the middle of town. In fact, in addition to the other elk we saw in peoples’ yards, on the way out of town we saw an elk just strolling right along the side of the road! They are *everywhere*!

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This is the male, also beautiful (as are they all!):

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These two calves were so funny – they laid like this, face to face, looking like mirror images of each other, chewing their cud in synch – as if they are playing that mirror game that children so often do. I kept thinking that they would have made a great Doublemint commercial (if you are old enough to remember the Doublemint twins!):

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One of the calves wandered off on his own to grab a bit of grazing – he was *sooo* cute!:

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Scratch, scritch:

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Then he caught up to mom:

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We thought that we were going to miss them bugling, as we needed to head back and hadn’t heard any, when suddenly we heard, from far away, what sounded like a rusty gate opening – or somebody blowing too hard on a wooden recorder. It was another male, bugling in the distance. Our male got up, and started encouraging many of the females to get up, although they didn’t actually leave the area.

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And then, he did it. It was *awesome*:

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have a video or sound recorder – but then I remembered – my phone! So here is a short video of him bugling – I apologize for the quality (hey, it was a cell phone), but you can still clearly hear him bugling, and it is incredible to see this magnificent animal and realize that this sound is coming from him.

 

And, if bugling doesn’t work, there’s always the old raspberry (what is it with male elk sticking out their tongue??):

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So that was our visit to Estes Park, to see the elk!

I’m not Soliciting, I’m Advertising

Honest to gawd, I just had the following exchange, word for word, with a product of our school system – which once again illustrates why we homeschool:

[Unknown woman walks up to our front door, flyer in hand, and rings doorbell – unaware that I’ve seen her through our front window]

Ding Dong!

Me (through closed door): Yes, who is it?

Woman (in tone of voice as if we are long-time friends): It’s Evelyn!

Me: Evelyn who?

Woman (in tone of voice as if I really ought to recognize her): Evelyn Martinez!

Me: What can I do for you, Evelyn Martinez?

Woman (now switching tone as clearly the fake friend thing isn’t working, as I haven’t opened the door): Are you the lady of the house?

Me: We don’t accept solicitors here.

Woman: I’m not soliciting, I’m advertising.

Badump bum.