Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#16 Post by TheWindowNerd »

I am one of the pros who is very pro full frame.
Most of your quotes look like insert install.
Full frame cost more because of the extra size, jamb extensions, interior trim, etc. In my neck of the woods it adds ~$300 to a comparable insert install.
The advantages are it maintains or increases VG,allows for window to RO foaming, new interior casing( with possible design changes).

theWindowNerd wayne

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HomeSealed
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#17 Post by HomeSealed »

Cyclone wrote: Mon Mar 22, 2021 5:13 pm The third quote company is continuing to impress me. It’s 5:45 pm local and within 10 minutes I got an email reply to my question. That is the $710/window quote I had provided. I didn’t realize the Imperial would block more of the glass. One of the things I didn’t like about the Norandex is the low VT as I like a bright house. Losing glass would be a negative, but it wouldn’t mean I don’t get the Imperial if that would indeed be a much better window.
Zen Windows NC wrote: The Lotus is the equivalent to the Soft-Lite Pro.

With the Elements and Imperial LS (Same window - different lock), we have the Imperial LS. The only challenge with going up to these lines is you will lose more glass. These have a thicker/beefier extrusion and as a result you lose more visible glass.
The gentleman I was speaking to has left the office already though, so he said he will send an update quote with the Imperial as an option tomorrow.
This LS is a little beefier, but its a much better window. The glass loss isn't much and its more than worth the tradeoff IMO. The Pro is better than the Classic, but you are getting a top performer with the LS.
Lastly, its great to get good customer service, but you also want a company that is highly proficient at their craft. The next time that I meet a franchise owner that fits that description in this industry will be the first. Most of those guys come from other fields, have been doing this for a brief period, and end up exiting when they learn that hundred dollar bills don't rain from the sky when you own a window company.

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#18 Post by TheWindowNerd »

"The next time that I meet a franchise owner that fits that description in this industry will be the first. Most of those guys come from other fields, have been doing this for a brief period, and end up exiting when they learn that hundred dollar bills don't rain from the sky when you own a window company." Brandon

I often enjoy your way with communicating, ya might have made a great preacher.

wayne

Delaware Mike
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#19 Post by Delaware Mike »

If a window salesman where to show someone a double-hung hand sample as a SL Classic/Pro with an Elements or Imperial side by side, one would see the slightly more robust much better frame and sash design along with the the glass loss. However, if you saw the full "real world" sizes of actual normal DH's side by side, you would barely notice the glass difference. SL and the extruder (Vision) didn't design that extrusion profile to make homeowners lose glass to upset them, they did it for a reason. I've never seen bowed, frowned, smiled sashes on those platforms.

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Randy
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#20 Post by Randy »

"SL and the extruder (Vision) didn't design that extrusion profile to make homeowners lose glass to upset them, they did it for a reason. I've never seen bowed, frowned, smiled sashes on those platforms." - Delaware Mike

Fact.

Cyclone
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#21 Post by Cyclone »

Thank you HomeSealed, Wayne, Mike, and Randy. They got back to me this morning with there being an $1,930 uncharge to go to Imperial LS from either the Classic Plus Double-Pane or the Pro Triple-Pane. An extra charge to be sure, but it seems the consensus is that there is a great value improvement moving up to the Imperial.

Cyclone
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#22 Post by Cyclone »

So today I had another local, highly-recommended company come out. It wasn't bad, but there were some things I didn't like about the sale presentation. The salesman spent a lot of time comparing themselves to Pella and Renewal By Anderson, when up front I told him I wasn't even considering those companies. He also spent a good bit of time going over how the NFRC label presented by other companies are misleading b/c while that label is true to a window, you are unlikely to actually be buying the window whose label is presented to you. After I asked about air infiltration, he said they have <0.3 as the level the NFRC stops measuring, didn't know of the spec value is, and proceeded to say that once I get below 0.3, the difference doesn't matter. Now, going over his product and his company, it was good.

- Private Label AMI 8001
- in business since 2007
- AMI lifetime warranty, product and glass breakage. Labor covered first two years.
- Installer covers labor beyond that for as long as I and subsequent owner live in the home
- doubler-hung, triple pane
- ClimaTech TG2 glass
- Stainless steel, warm-edge spacer (rep also talked about how foam has better thermal properties, but it won't hold up and degrades faster, so that is why the use stainless steel)
- Machine cut closed-cell foam for frame and sash that the vinyl is built around vs. expanding foam injected into widow
- Fiberclass reinforced sash at the locking rail
- Hidden screen tracks with a "tumble and block" (I may have the first work wrong?) rail with kevlar cording instead of nylon
- U-Factor 0.26
- SHGC 0.18 (I may have the U-Factor and SHGC #s reversed, it isn't in the documentation he left me, but was in the presentation)
- VT 0.40
- AL <0.3
- $1,015/window = $14,214

** This includes a $115/window upcharge for three windows that are "oriel" style with the bottom sash larger than the top sash. I could go with a 50/50 setup to save $345, but then my plantation shutters center bar would be at a different spot than where the sashes meet and it + interlock would be obstructing my view.

uncle eddie
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#23 Post by uncle eddie »

You are going to want to keep shopping. Zen sucks butt nuggets. The last window you just saw is an alside 8000. Also high level butt nugget consumption and matching sales pitch. Worst one yet on the sales BS meter.

Cyclone
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#24 Post by Cyclone »

Thank you Eddie. That seems rather harsh, but perhaps my local location is above average for the franchises or they’ve changed over the years. I’ve reached out to three people via NextDoor in my neighborhood that were very happy with them. I’ve read a number of reviews about them.

However, I try to keep in mind that us homeowners don’t have an eye for this and what might seem like a good installation that we are happy with will end up cropping up an issue in a few years. The franchise only started 6 years ago, though the owner had worked in the business for 15 years prior.

I have two more quotes today and I can see myself growing tired of these salespeople. Now granted these are salesman, but I’m not about to believe each guy saying his window and team are the best thing since sliced bread, especially when I can at least know the product isn’t top grade.

That last part got me thinking last night. This isn’t a top end, high quality how. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but only valued at $300k after 10 years of ownership, doesn’t have trim upgrades around the house (tried when replacing my roof, but there was insufficient room above the windows to fit decorative trim), has 7.5’ ceilings, etc. While I see value in getting better products, I can also understand that this home isn’t top tier and some of the cost in going with high end products would be wasted.

On top of that, I started thinking seriously about visible transmittance. I like a bright house and eventually added more lighting because I wanted the living spaces to be brighter. Today I have single pane glass and on the bottom level, plantation shutters. If I go to Imperial Solar Ultra triple pane, my VT would be around 0.39. Would that make things too dark? If I forgot some of the U-Factor and to Imperial Solar dual pane, my VT would be around 0.49. That would save $184/window. I could go with the Classic Plus and save another $129/window. Though I prefer the aesthetic of the Imperial and the Pro over the Classic, looking at pictures of home in my city with brick facades and the Classic Plus on SoftLite’s website leads me to feel I would be ok with that. I don’t even have brickmold on the existing windows, though perhaps the capping that would be done could be done in a brickmold style.

While I understand I am talking to pros here, what are your thoughts about windows to put in a mid-grade home that doesn’t have exterior upgrades.

To be clear, the actual cost isn’t a problem. $4k is available in the renovation budget, but would that $4k be better served upgrading the 40-year old insulation or changing the 20+ year old flooring? Your thoughts are appreciated.

Cyclone
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#25 Post by Cyclone »

To circle around on this for folks in the future (I hate when threads are left out in limbo), I made my decision today.

I went to a few neighbors that recently had their windows done, saw them first-hand, and reached out a window company in another area that gave me their recommended installer for my area (which happened to be one I already talked to).

After looking at everything, I ended choosing Zen Windows. Their reviews have been great and they are the ones I’ve felt most comfortable with of those in my area. A few things helped finalize the decision:
- since November 2020, the Soft-Lite Classic Plus windows they order come with the full bevel as the Pro line (see note below)
- Of all the installers in my area I spoke to, only one recommended triple pane and many didn’t even offer triple pane.
- I am being provided full-screen BetterVue screens without an extra line-item cost
- My three 36 x 64 windows were originally priced as standard double-hungs. They are providing Oriel style dh at no extra charge.
- I found my existing Andersen 200 series Perma-Force DH (air fill) NFRC ratings and estimate I have a 0.55 VT (estimate since my 1980 windows may be a different spec than what the NFRC lists for clear dh on that window)
- I was provided the CPD numbers for the two standard options being offered to me. The Pro triple pane would be 0.35 VT and the Classic Plus double pane would be 0.48 VT.


With the options they select, the only really tangible difference is the Pro having a foam Super Spacer vs. Interceptor Stainless Steel spacer + fiberglass reinforcement vs. metal in the meeting rail. Both the Classic Plus and Pro they order is foam filled in the frame and sash.

Meanwhile, I’m ok losing 7% light compared to my existing windows. A 20% reduction in light I’m sure I would notice. I already turn on my lights in the late afternoon/early evenings because it feels too dark maybe two or three hours before the sun goes down.

In the end, I am paying an average of $570.88 per window before tax, or $612.26 after. The whole project is about $9,800 (I moved up to doing all 16 windows after seeing the wood rot on the garage and basement windows) on a house worth $300k - $350k. The Pro with triple pane would have been $799 a window after tax.

Now comes the 10 week wait.

uncle eddie
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#26 Post by uncle eddie »

it sounds like you have really worked hard to convince yourself that this is a good choice. That window is the BMW Isetta of the softlite lineup. More importantly, and which you don't seem to want to believe, is that 10 week wait is going to feel awfully short compared to waiting for service from a company that is out of business in a few years. Here's a little inside info, that organization in my opinion is a glorified pyramid scheme. The guys selling the franchises make all of the money, the guys buying them are schmucks. Most times they don't know anything about the business like I said earlier, and they get eaten alive by an industry full of sharks where their only chance at making sales is to give things away *ahem*, your brutally low price. The other guys that may buy in may have some industry experience but aren't smart enough to start their own company which is equally concerning. Even if you find a sharp guy that for some ungodly reason was conned into buying in, its not going to take him long to figure out that he could be making BANK for himself instead of paying a chunk of his profits to some a-holes with a dumb business concept. And yes, selling home improvements site-unseen is an incredibly dumb concept. If you are within your 3 day cancellation period it would be something to think strongly about.

I don't think I'll ever understand why people do a bunch of research only to completely disregard it, and even worse then come back and think they will get a pat on the back for it. SMH.

Cyclone
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#27 Post by Cyclone »

To be clear, I wasn’t looking for a pat on the back. I was just circling around for closure (and will update again post-installation).

They seemed to be the best of bad choices. The first was $1k/window for Slocomb 677s. Expensive for sure, but if the installation quality was there, I would pay the premium. When the same company did my gutters, I got the same spiel about a full satisfaction guarantee, the owner would come out and inspect everything with me, etc. When the time came, one guy did my gutters by him over the course of the day, and he wanted me to sign their document immediately. No going over anything or anything like that. Thankfully, I had checked on him periodically and watched him work, so I was comfortable signing. Looking at their reviews, they have plenty of people very dissatisfied and having a hard time getting service in the future. This past Monday the salesman had emailed me to tell me he left the company and if I hadn’t decided who to go with, to not go with that company.

The second company didn’t write anything up. Gave me a verbal offer and went through this whole process of how I would get a certificate of insurance, a full warranty write up, a detailed quote, etc. in a few days. When I didn’t immediately commit (with 50% down), I suspect they decided I wasn’t the mark for them as I have not heard from them since and they have responded to calls or messages from my number, but answer immediately from my mother’s.

The third company was Zen. The fourth company gave me pricing site-unseen without even going over measurements. They don’t use Soft-Lite, but instead offered the Alside Mezzo or the Simonton 5500. He was $610/window for double-pane.

The fourth company offered AMI windows and seemed good enough. They have good reviews as well. The didn’t leave a detailed quote, just the total price of $13,253 + tax for 14 windows. They said they don’t even offer triple pane glass packages.

The fifth company was good and gave me a great feeling about the company. The reviews are good. They only carry the Soft-Lite Pro, no other model. Their price started at $21,388 for double-pane and kept discounting every time I said I need time to think about it. It actually got all the way down to $12,450 for the 14 windows if I committed right then. They also only charged another $1,200 for triple pane for 14 windows. It was 1/3 down, 1/3 at start of install, 1/3 upon install completion. They also didn’t leave a detailed quote, just the total. The above figures are after tax, not before. If I didn’t go with Zen, I’d probably go with them.

The sixth company only does Pella Symphony double-pane windows. They felt the most like a car salesman, with a very high pressure presentation. The pricing also kept going down like crazy. For 14 windows, $22,596 -> $23,520 -> $17,645 -> $15,436 -> $14,796 -> $13,997 -> $13,553 -> $12,125. This also had a mandatory financing application, even if I was paying cash. 10% down, then payment upon completion or via financing 30-45 days after install was complete. Online reviews were horrid, not only on service, but also on how employees are treated. The big “selling point” for the employees is the annual “all expenses paid” trip to Mexico.

The other quote was for Window World / World of Windows, and I cancelled that appt after hearing from you all here.

So given these choices, I basically was left with two viable options. The fifth company did have pricing tactics, but I never felt pressured. So while they did the “today only” price, they still didn’t seem like a bad company to deal with. They’ve called a few times (I didn’t answer), so I’m sure that the today only price is still available, or even improved.

In the end, if it was only the $4k difference between Zen and company # 5, I would pay that for a company/install. When I reached out to a Houston-based installer and saw another forum in my Google searching, they both recommended the specific Zen franchise I signed up with (in the latter case, there were a few people asking about this franchise over a few years, so I just read their threads). After the comments on the other forum and watching the YouTube videos of the Houston-based installer, I felt the recommendations put me at ease for considering Zen to company # 5, leaving just the price as a differentiator.

I am still within my 3 days and the on-site measurements haven’t even been taken yet should I decide to go with someone else. But that would only realistically be with company # 5 (Carolinas Home Remodeling).

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toddinmn
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#28 Post by toddinmn »

I think you did a pretty good job, and I think the window is pretty solid choice. I’m not a Zen fan either but In all fairness I don’t have any Idea on there quality of work, I don’t think they are a pyramid scheme, they have franchises that have been in business for awhile now, have not seen or heard of anyone that got conned into buying there franchise. I I think there sales approach is brilliant and anyone who has sat through A high pressure sales would probably agree. Iwould not call the pricing they gave brutally low. I think franchises are not a bad way of starting a business.I think Eddies reply was a little harsh and rude and perhaps slanderous.

Cyclone
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#29 Post by Cyclone »

Thank you Todd. I appreciate it.

It is crazy how Charlotte neighborhoods are set up. On my street, the median house price is $250k, with mine being higher for having a garage + basement (vs. one or none) and not being split-level. The two streets behind me are part of the same sub-development and priced similarly. Go over one more street, and now homes are $2 MM - $5 MM. Or go a single street in front from me and homes are $500k - $750k. One more street and they are $600k - $1.5 MM. All of this is without even cross the main road, just streets in the neighborhood.

If I lived on one of those other streets, I’d opt for the Imperial, find someone with Elements, or even go with another brand for something more upscale. But when I’m the “slums” of the neighborhood, it didn’t seem worthwhile to spend for premium quality windows. At least I have some of the city’s top rated schools within walking distance to me!

I am trying to keep an open mind though as I’m sure some of the rave reviews gain “brownie points” for the sales tactic vs. others in the area. So I try not to focus on just the money, but the value. Hence why I didn’t get Imperial Elite windows, but did get a solar array installed that will take years to recoup the initial costs.

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HomeSealed
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Re: Norandex vs Slocomb vs. Keep shopping

#30 Post by HomeSealed »

While I don't think that you had any home run options here, I think that you had a better option or two. I'd agree with eddie's comments being on the harsh side, but there is some truth in there as well. Anyone selling a decent window installed in the $500's these days won't likely be around long, and IF they aren't, $1000 per unit for the better window could end up looking a lot more attractive in the rearview mirror. Take a look at the BBB complaints that this industry is known for, the vast majority are about the cheap contractor, not the pricey one. That said, no need to beat that horse any further.

Either way, hopefully all goes as you expect it to and you are happy with your purchase. That's what matters in the end.

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