The Truth About Builder Grade Windows

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How Good Are The New Construction Windows In My Home? Why Do I feel Drafts And Why Are They Falling Apart?

Did you know that almost all builder grade windows will start showing signs of wear and tear within 5 years?


When you purchase a new construction home, you expect everything to be top-notch, brand new and probably wouldn’t expect to see things falling apart in a few short years. Unfortunately that’s not the case with many new homes being built on Staten Island, especially when it comes to the windows.

These windows look great when new, but they’re a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. You’ll see how nice and big they are and how much light they give a room, and that’s great. What’s not great about these windows is that they are in most cases a low quality Silverline, American Craftsman, or other builder grade window, meaning in a short period of 5 to 10 years you’re going to start having problems.

These are builder grade windows also known as contractor grade. They’re being installed in condos, townhouses, duplexes, and all types of homes on Staten Island.

What Exactly Are Builder Grade Windows?

Builder grade windows are inexpensive and made from low grade materials as opposed to a higher quality or custom grade that are more durable to last. They are a popular choice because they save builders money.

Blast those corner cutters!

To put it bluntly, they don’t care if the windows fail a few years forcing you to shell out all of this money that they should have invested themselves.

Hardware Failure

One day you’ll try to lock your window and it won’t engage. You’ll forcibly push down on the lever, but it’ll remain popped up and won’t snap in. In other words, your window isn’t properly shut and air is seeping in.


You’ll have a hard time opening and closing your windows, because the cheap balancers are going. If you’re window starts squeaking or making noises while opening and closing, chances are you will have a problem if not already. Opening and closing a window should be a one finger operation. You shouldn’t need both hands and your foot planted on the wall as you tug away.

Seal Failure

Is the glass not as clear as it used to be? Is there water on the glass but you can’t wipe it off? This is seal failure and it’s very common with these cheap new construction windows. The seal around the insulated glass unit has failed and water has penetrated between the panes. Guess what? You can’t clean it. You’ll need to call a glass shop and pay for new insulated glass units.

The Installation Is Also Bad

Here’s a little secret. Most new home builders don’t know much about or even care about the quality of installation. Now that you know this, it’s important to understand the installation process and how they were most likely installed. If you think an experienced window installer is doing the job, guess again. It’s usually the framer and he’s installing the windows to close up all the openings for security purposes.

Yeah, security purposes.

“What they do is have the framers hang the windows,” said The Men With Tools Owner John Kolbaska. “They will frame up the house, then install the exterior sheathing — plywood or whatever material they’re using — and they’ll have the framers install the new construction windows to that sheathing to close up the house.

“They generally just put a few screws in the flange and off they go to the next window. They don’t square it off, they don’t level it, they just pop the window in and that’s it. What the builder basically has is a house that’s framed, sheathed, and secured.”

Insulation is Skipped

One of the keys to preventing drafts is insulation between the pocket around each window and that’s the missing piece. No one is going around and putting in foam insulation. The sheet rocker comes in followed by the guy who does the molding and it’s skipped. The windows usually aren’t caulked and flashed properly on the outside, so that’s why you feel air coming in.

Here at The Men With Tools, our No. 1 complaint with new construction windows is drafts, and it’s a result of poor installation, no insulation plus the cheap builder grade windows that were used.

Don’t be afraid to ask the builder a lot of questions about the windows before you buy a new home:

  • What brand of windows are these?
  • Have they been insulated?
  • Who installed them?
  • How long is the warranty from the window manufacturer?
  • What does the warranty cover?

Be a pest, it’s your investment. No one wants to purchase a new home with inferior windows.

Are you in the market for replacement windows? Check out The Men With Tools on Staten Island, NY who won’t caulk and walk and will give you a fair price. Call us today at 347-815-4151 for a free estimate.

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