For building owners and property managers, window replacement is often a necessary, but overwhelming, task.
Updating a building’s windows can help improve efficiency and security, while rejuvenating the building’s exterior. Although there are numerous benefits, building managers have many of the same concerns:
- Will residents be disturbed during a 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?
If you are thinking about replacing commercial apartment windows at your property, these are some of the most important questions to ask yourself.
Reasons to Consider Apartment Window Replacement
Property managers and building owners should consider replacing windows for a number of reasons. One of the most important, which offers the most compelling business case, is 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, which are prime sources of heat loss. Updating these inefficient windows can significantly reduce heating/cooling costs by 10-40 percent, 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, DC passed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018. Energy conservation and consumption will definitely 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 the building’s windows can help to greatly reduce noise, increasing resident satisfaction and allowing for higher rents.
- 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 instantly revitalize an aging property from the interior and exterior. Apartments feel lighter and newer, while the exterior looks cleaner and more inviting.
- Reduced Maintenance — Reduction in maintenance tickets and time spent by staff dealing with old, difficult to operate windows.
Factors to Consider When Replacing Windows
For apartment managers and owners, a successful window replacement project starts with planning. They must consider the types of windows, how the new windows will benefit tenants, and scheduling of the project to ensure a positive experience for tenants. This can be an overwhelming challenge. Here are steps that should be considered:
- How large is the project?
- For commercial windows and doors, the larger the project, the larger the pricing breaks received from commercial window manufacturers. Though it may be difficult to budget capital for large projects, the most savings are realized when the entire project can be purchased at one time.
- Consider multiple manufacturers from the start
- Limiting yourself to a single manufacturer from the start will typical 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 do I want or am I allowed to have my new windows 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. It is often referred to as IECC. It gives requirements for the 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, often between 2 and 4 percent 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 windows will accomplish several things. First, it allows 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. Second, it allows the contractor to do an exploratory on the building when the window is removed. This will help the contractor firm up an installation details, while also helping prevent change orders from unforeseen conditions. Next, 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.
- Residents disruption
- 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 visiting 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 on how the project went and how the contractor performed on the property. Lastly, if possible, visit a project that was completed 5-10 years ago. 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.
- 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 windows and doors with these hazards can be quite different than a standard replacement. Ask for other properties your contractor has completed with similar hazards and speak with the manager about the process.
Benefits of Replacing Commercial Glass on Apartments
For property managers and owners, a strong business case can be made for upgrading windows. Not only can replacement windows help to reduce an apartment building’s heating load, they also result in:
- Higher Rents – Windows improve the visual aesthetics of an apartment building, as well as reduce drafts, soften direct sunlight and can allow for natural ventilation.
- Increase Property Values – Replacement windows have a significant impact on a property’s eco 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.
- Resident Retention – Although there are many factors that contribute to tenant retention, 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 will ensure the overall best value for your property. Aeroseal services property owners, property managers and general contractors up and down the east coast, as well as provides nationwide services to key customers.
Call now for a free estimate or to learn more about our solutions.