For building owners and property managers, replacing commercial apartment windows is a necessary, albeit overwhelming, task. Updating a building’s windows can help improve efficiency and security and rejuvenate exterior aesthetics. Although there are numerous benefits, building managers have many of the same concerns. Examples include:
- Will residents be disturbed during a commercial apartment window installation project?
- How much time will a building-wide project take?
- What effect does a capital improvement like this have on the property’s value?
- Will new windows help drive occupancy and rent?
- What types of windows are right for my building?
Reasons to Consider Apartment Window Replacement
Property managers and building owners should consider replacing windows for a number of reasons, the most compelling of which is energy efficiency. Inefficient commercial windows account for roughly 33% of energy loss. If your building’s windows haven’t been replaced in the last 25 years, the building likely has single-pane windows with no low-e coating installed. These are major culprits when it comes to heat loss. Updating these inefficient windows can significantly reduce heating/cooling costs by 10-40%, according to some industry estimates. In addition, many municipalities are beginning to implement their own energy efficiency requirements for commercial buildings. In January of 2019, Washington, D.C. passed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018. Energy conservation and consumption will certainly become more prevalent for commercial buildings in the future.
Beyond thermal improvement, there are many reasons to consider updating your apartment building or multi-family complex including: Reduced Noise Transmittance Today’s commercial windows can reduce noise by as much as 95%. For multi-family housing in densely populated areas, near traffic corridors, or in airport flight paths, updating commercial windows can help to greatly reduce noise. This will improve resident satisfaction and allow for higher rents. Read more about how windows can reduce noise pollution here. Improved Functionality Replacing fixed windows with operable casement or double-hung windows improves tenant comfort and makes apartments more marketable. Enhanced Property Aesthetics New windows or an updated storefront can bring new life to an aging property from the interior to the exterior. Apartments will feel lighter and more modern, while the exterior looks cleaner and more inviting. Reduced Maintenance Updating your commercial windows will reduce labor costs for apartment building owners, as staff will not need to spend as much time attending to them.
Factors to Consider When Replacing Commercial Windows
For apartment managers and owners, a successful commercial window replacement project starts with planning. They must consider the types of windows and the way the placement of the new windows will affect tenant life. A commercial window installation team can schedule the project to ensure a positive experience for both management and tenants. This can be an overwhelming challenge, so it is important that you work with a window expert at every step of the process. Consider the following when planning your commercial apartment window installation:
- For commercial windows and doors, the larger the project, the larger the pricing breaks from commercial window manufacturers. Though it may be difficult to budget for large projects, the most savings are realized when the entire project can be purchased at one time.
- Limiting yourself to a single manufacturer from the start will typically result in spending more for the project. It is not only important to consider multiple manufacturers, but also to consider contractors that have a vast offering of similar products. This will ensure that you are getting the best value for your improvement.
Window Code Requirements
- Window codes must be considered from the start of the process. Key considerations are:
- Structural requirements for the windows and doors
- How far windows need to be able to open (certain jurisdictions are now requiring window opening control devices that limit the windows to 4”, unless bypassed).
- Hurricane and impact windows are often required in coastal areas. The requirements for these windows are often stringent and must be met.
- Tempered glass can be required next to doors, close to the walking surface, as well as in stairwells.
- Energy requirements are now standard in almost every part of the United States. Most jurisdictions have adopted some form of the International Energy Code Council’s requirements, which provide guidance on U-Value and solar heat gain coefficients for the windows. Low-e coatings are almost always required to meet IECC requirements.
- Permits are sometimes required. Most often, they are not required if the window is replaced in-kind. It is always important to check, as most jurisdictions charge a percentage of the project. This is usually between 2% and 4% of the overall project cost.
- Window codes must be considered from the start of the process. Key considerations are:
Mock-Up Windows and Doors
- Mock-up commercial replacement windows will accomplish several things. They allow the owner to see how the new window will change the aesthetics of the building. It is imperative to install a mock-up window if a color change from the existing window is being considered. They also allow the contractor to do an exploratory on the building when the window is removed. This will help the contractor firm up installation details, while also helping prevent change orders from unforeseen conditions. Further, it will allow the maintenance staff to ask questions regarding upkeep of the new windows before they are responsible for maintaining hundreds of them. Lastly, it will allow the property to change windows or doors if the mock-up results are not what they expected. Properties do not want hundreds of new windows that they are dissatisfied with from the start.
Use a Single Manufacturer if the Project is Multi-Phased
- Some managers and owners may be tempted to switch manufacturers after completing a portion of the project. Before this is done, consider how different the windows or doors will look, including the thickness of the metal and the tint of the low-e coatings.
- For most projects, windows and doors in a single apartment unit are completed in one business day. Having contractors in a tenant’s unit for multiple days will only lead to an unhappy tenant. It is imperative that the contractor that you choose has a long track record of working in occupied space and completing projects on time.
Visit Completed Projects
- Another important step that is sometimes overlooked is checking out completed projects in your area. Not only do you want to view the quality of the manufacturer you have selected, but the quality of the installation as well. Additionally, speaking with the property manager or owner of the property will provide valuable insight as to how the window installation project went and how the contractor performed on the property. Lastly, if possible, visit a project that was completed 5-10 years ago in-person. This will provide an excellent idea of how your new windows will look in future. New windows always look fantastic in the first year, but today’s windows should provide 20+ years of functionality and performance.
- Installation and the quality of the window are of the utmost importance. It is imperative to interview contractors that have completed projects similar to your property. For information on Aeroseal’s installation services, click here.
- Other important factors to consider are lead and other environmental hazards. Because of the nature of these hazards, you will need a contractor that is qualified and licensed to do this type of work on your property. The process for replacing commercial apartment windows and doors with these hazards can be quite different than a standard replacement. Ask about other properties your contractor has completed with similar hazards and speak with the manager about the process.
Benefits of Replacing Commercial Glass in Commercial Apartment Windows
For property managers and owners, a strong business case can be made for commercial window replacement. Not only can replacement windows help to reduce an apartment building’s heating load, they also result in:
Windows improve the visual aesthetics of an apartment building, as well as reduce drafts, soften direct sunlight and can allow for natural ventilation. Check out some examples of our work on high and mid-rise buildings here.
Increase Property Values
Replacement windows have a significant impact on a property’s carbon footprint, which is a key driver of property value. In fact, one study found that resale values for green properties was on average 20% higher than traditional properties.
Although there are many factors that contribute to tenant happiness, property maintenance and building enhancements can be a powerful motivator for retaining residents.
Aeroseal is an exterior improvement contractor providing turn-key tenant-in-place window, door, railing, and storefront replacement services for multi-family properties. With the ability to provide products from 40+ window and door manufacturers, Aeroseal’s commercial window installers and door experts will ensure the overall best value for your property. Aeroseal services property owners, property managers and general contractors up and down the east coast. We provide comprehensive commercial window installation services nationwide. Call now for a free estimate or to learn more about our solutions.