If you’ve owned your San Diego home for any amount of time and done any improvements to it, you’ve likely heard the term “builder grade” used in reference to home improvement products. You might not have stopped to think about, or ask about, what this term really means. It isn’t uncommon for homeowners to think of “builder grade” products as “builder’s choice” products—as in, the preferred products of builders. This is only true in the sense that builder grade products are more likely to be chosen by builders because they are typically less expensive than quality grade or custom grade products.
We wanted to offer some clarification for San Diego homeowners about what you can expect from builder grade products, and builder grade replacement windows in particular, so you can make more informed purchasing decisions when it comes to your home.
Builder grade is a classification of the building materials that is used to describe products that meet the minimum standards of quality. They are often mass produced, and come with few options or features. However, they do start at a lower price point than higher grade products (often a significantly lower price).
When it comes to windows, builder grade windows meet only the minimum standards of energy efficiency. Builder grade windows are often still manufactured with dual panes, but may not have the insulating technology available in higher grade windows. In addition, builder grade windows usually are only offered in a limited number of standard sizes and styles, so you may not be able to get exactly what you want by purchasing builder grade windows.
What if your San Diego Home Currently has Builder Grade Windows?
San Diego homes with builder grade windows already installed in them shouldn’t necessarily just replace them all with upgraded windows. However, if you don’t want to wait to start seeing the energy savings that come with more energy-efficient replacement windows, you could replace them now—especially if you anticipate you’ll own you home for a long period of time. There are other good reasons to upgrade your windows sooner rather than later, for example, if the windows are obviously not in good shape, or if you have trouble keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
If your current windows are relatively new and in good working order, you may want to just live with them until you start experiencing problems like leaks, drafts, or difficulty opening or closing them—or if you anticipate that you won’t be in your home for very long (less than 5 years), as you may not see enough in energy savings to justify the cost of the replacement windows.
Michal Bohm, replacement window industry veteran and owner of BM Windows in San Diego, had this to say about replacing builder grade windows:
Being in the replacement window industry for so many years, I have seen a lot of builder grade windows that just haven’t held up well over time. We are constantly replacing them in San Diego homes in favor of newer vinyl windows that are much more durable and energy efficient.”
Bohm continued, “A word of caution to San Diego homeowners: when you choose to replace your builder grade windows, make sure you are replacing them with a superior product, and not just another builder grade product, or you could be in the position of having to replace your windows again down the road. At our company, we don’t even offer builder grade windows to our customers because we know they just don’t give homeowners the energy savings or long-term performance they’re looking for. Sure, they may look good for a while, but over time you will start to experience problems because they just aren’t made to last.”
If you’ve determined it’s time to replace the windows in your home, contact several replacement window companies in San Diego to obtain estimates. Often, replacement window companies will have access to higher grade and specialty window products that aren’t available in retail stores or to general contractors.
Make sure you take the time to compare the energy efficiency and quality of the products each company offers (not just the price), and purchase products that will give you a lifetime of energy-efficient performance.