Narrowed down to three choices

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Lumpy
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2021 7:59 pm

Narrowed down to three choices

#1 Post by Lumpy »

Hi - I've been researching Windows for awhile now and have narrowed down my decision to three choices. Given the differences in prices on these, I'm wondering if there is something I'm missing or questions I should be asking. All three are from well reviewed local contractors for 20 windows and a sliding door.

The first is a quote for 20 triple pane Polaris Thermaweld and a sliding door for about $25,000. This was the only contractor that seemed to think we needed triple pane and in fact insisted on it. They also did not come out to our property that I know of. If they did they did not let us know and looked from the outside. The price seems reasonable for triple pane though which is the main reason they are still in consideration.

The second is for 20 two pane Okna 500 Deluxe and an Elegante 8800 sliding door for about $23,000.

The third is for 20 two pane Soft-lite Imperial Elite + Softlite Sliding door for about $19,000.

Looking at brochures, the Okna has a U of .25, SHGC of .29, VT of .53, CR of .62 and air filtration of .02

The Softlite Imperial Elite is at U of .27, SHGC of .26, VT of .48, CR of 57 and air filtration of .02

On paper the Okna is a slightly better window, but is it $4000 worth better for the entire project? Or is the Softlite dealers price incredibly low for some reason and there's a question I should be asking that I'm not? I've seen many estimates around the forums where these two products are quoted a lot closer in price to each other - so I'm trying to figure out what the Okna may be providing that the Softlite is not.

On the Polaris contractor most of the reviews say they did good work but not very personable (like not meeting during sales process). The other two are equally reviewed, and almost all review are positive. I found significantly more reviews for the Softlite dealer than Okna, but there were plenty reviews of both companies and both had glowing reviews overall.

Thanks in advance.

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toddinmn
Posts: 912
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:02 pm

Re: Narrowed down to three choices

#2 Post by toddinmn »

The triple pane is nice but really comes down to a personnel decision , I don’t push it but merely leave it as an option with an upgraded price. On paper the Soft-Lite is the winner. The install details are key . with more information my opinion may sway.

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Windows on Washington
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Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:23 am
Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC

Re: Narrowed down to three choices

#3 Post by Windows on Washington »

+1

The Soft-Lite is the leader here. Only reason to consider the Okna over the SL offering would be if you don't like the frame bulk on the SL window.

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HomeSealed
Posts: 2655
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:46 pm
Location: Milwaukee, Madison, Northern IL

Re: Narrowed down to three choices

#4 Post by HomeSealed »

I'd step back from the product for a moment (they are both top performers), and take a closer look at the installing company. Its great that they are both well-reviewed, but consider the following:

- Volume of good reviews (its a lot harder to get a few hundred great reviews than a few dozen)

- How long in business? Lots of companies fail within the first year. A second and third batch within 3 and 5 as bad business practices can't be overcome. Then again around the 8-10 year mark, after a company has a sufficient number of installations done and those older jobs have service calls, another group will bite the dust as they are unable to handle that.

- Based locally? It may seem to contradict my comments on size, however its not uncommon for large regional or national organizations to pull out of an underperforming market.

- Company size? While there are some small companies that stay in business for a long time and large ones that fail, the odds of failure decrease with larger companies. These companies will also get better service from manufacturers based on their volume. Does that mean that you need a company that does $100 million in sales, no, but one that does under a million annually will be a little riskier.

- Location? Once again, nothing inherently wrong with home based businesses, but being able to walk into an establishment if they aren't answering your phone calls offers some peace of mind.

- Certifications, trade groups, BBB rating (and complaint qty), etc.

- Length of time carrying that product. Some companies jump around between products a lot. Speaking from experience, it is not pleasant to try and coordinate warranty parts and service from a manufacturer that you no longer work with, or do in small volume. Theoretically this shouldn't affect you as a consumer, but it does. Lead time for parts, etc.

These are all items to consider. None of them guarantee success or failure, however a larger company will have more operating cost and therefore generally higher prices. Maybe that explains your discrepancy here, or in the event that the company with the lower price profiles better, that could just reinforce going that direction. You won't go wrong with either product, the only measurable difference would be the glass area between the two, but again both are top tier performers.

uncle eddie
Posts: 150
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:52 pm

Re: Narrowed down to three choices

#5 Post by uncle eddie »

triple pane is good depending on where you are located, but I like a pros and cons approach. Not a fan of the guys that only sell it or refuse to sell it at all.
polaris tw is pretty nice but i don't like how that company sounds.
okna 500 is great.
Sl Elite is great too. Like the other guys said it a little bulky, but still great. Price seems a tad low but not like crazy low. It is the version of that window though that is pretty easy to get, bounces around a lot between dealers. The pretty girl in school that has lots of boyfriends. The Elements is her even better looking sister that you want to marry. Doesn't speak as much to the product as it does to the company selling it.

Lumpy
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2021 7:59 pm

Re: Narrowed down to three choices

#6 Post by Lumpy »

Thanks for the advice here.

For the companies, both have a large quantity of reviews. The Okna dealer has 100s of reviews and the Softlite has over 1000.

Both have been around between 10-20 years or so, but I believe the Softlite dealer rebranded and has been around longer than that.

Both are local dealers.

A quick google search shows both have about $5-10 million in revenues (but those numbers could be wrong)

Both have A+ ratings with the BBB and no complaints

Both have physical locations

The installation description on both are pretty much identical. Slightly different verbiage but same end meaning.

I know people who have used both companies and were happy. They are both ones I was referred to by people I know.

I’ve also waded through meeting a few people friends referred me to that had no web presence and worked out of their houses, some general contractors / remodelers - one who told me that Softlite and Okna were garbage contractor grade windows used in new construction and that I should by Advanced Windows.. it took me quite awhile to narrow it down to three reasonable companies. On any project I always try to get three reasonable quotes, and that’s really the reason the Polaris dealer made the cut. They didn’t make me feel great, but they were offering me a different solution and weren’t as sketchy as many of the others I talked to.

I think I’m going to go with the Softlite dealer. I’m usually good with paying more if the bang for the buck is there. It’s about 20% more on the Okna, and I’m just not seeing that. I could even have a few of the Softlite windows laminated (one side of our house can be a bit noisy) and still come in less.

Thanks for the help everyone. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something obvious that would make the Okna cost that much more.

Ricknez
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:18 am
Location: southern PA, north east MD

Re: Narrowed down to three choices

#7 Post by Ricknez »

The contractor, and I use that term loosely, is outright lying when he tells you soft lite and okna are builders grade. I dont believe it is an innocent misunderstanding on his part, he is being very dishonest.
Advanced Window are made in Chicago and its not a very good window. A company in PA uses them because they are cheap. Are you from PA?

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TheWindowNerd
Posts: 2011
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: SE PA & NJ; DFW/Metroplex

Re: Narrowed down to three choices

#8 Post by TheWindowNerd »

Not sure of your location, which could effect pricing.
The SL quote seems a little low. Which is a yellow flag. As Homesealed elaborated the company selling/installing is hugely important. Will they likely be around 10 years from now if you need warranty help?

I have sold and installed both SL and Okna. Okna would be my choice.

theWindowNerd

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