Buying a house? How to Determine the Quality of the Windows

March 8, 2013



The excitement of buying a house can be quickly dashed by the daunting amount of information and wit it takes to find the right one. Preparation is key and an inspection list is indispensable.

If you’re thinking of buying a new home, windows should be on the list of items you wish to inspect when you do a walk-through. New windows can be costly should they have any damage, and if you’ve already moved in, it’s too late.

Open and Shut

Walk around the house and check that all windows can properly open and shut. Lock and unlock the windows to ensure they work. Do any of them stick, or not open at all? The last thing you want to do is get into a summer-long war with your windows.


Carefully look around the window frame to check for any sort of damage. Cracks, chips or water marks are a tell-tale sign that you might be replacing the window before too long. Frames made of wood can soak up moisture and become damaged much easier than other materials.


Inspect the framing for any water damage or leaks. If the windows look old, they are more likely to have problems with sealing. Is there enough caulking around the edges? If you suspect there might be a draft anywhere, wet your hand and run it along the edges of the window. You will feel cold air against your hand if you find a draft.

Window Material

If the windows on the home are older, they may not be as energy efficient as newer ones. Double-paned windows will be much more efficient than single-paned, and you should know your energy bill may be higher or lower depending on the material the windows are made of and the quality of the installation.

New Installs?

Have the windows been recently replaced? Make sure the job that was done was done professionally. If their windows were not completed by a professional, you may be left with ineffective windows that will increase your bill and decrease your safety over time.

What to Do

Asking the seller for a window repair can be tricky, depending on where you live. Sellers aren’t obligated to repair anything in the home when the reason is aesthetic. If you can convince them the window damage changes the habitability and safety, you may get them to pay for new windows.

If you don’t know how costly it can be to buy replacement windows or have them retrofitted, do some research. A sticky window here or there is not a minor issue, and may run you well into the thousands. Know what to look for when you go to inspect a home.

Related Articles