Hiring a Window Contractor: Why going with your gut is a good idea

Hiring a replacement window contractor can be tricky.  Go with your gut.   In my “former life” as an HR professional we had to always make decisions with facts.  Facts.  Facts.  Facts.   Hiring decisions were based on skills and work experiences..  We were literally told to ignore our gut.   Guess what?  When you are the homeowner and you are considering making an investment into your home GO WITH YOUR GUT!!

He seems friendly, right?

Like it or not, any home improvement project, from just a window replacement or door replacement or new vinyl siding to a full on room remodeling project means your home is exposed.   Your life is disrupted (if only for a day) and your home undergoes change.  You don’t want to trust that to just anyone.  You certainly don’t want to trust it to just the “guy with the lowest price”.    What DO you want?

  1. The best product.   The product that looks and feels like “your house”
  2. The best warranty.   You don’t want to buy the cheapest stuff and then go through this all again in a few years, do you?
  3. The contractor with a good reputation.  You checked him out, right?   He isn’t the guy the BBB has listed with an “F” rating, or the guy with unresolved complaints against him in the double digits, right?
  4. The contractor who is punctual, clean, put together, and well… likeable.   If he is in your home to give you a quote and you ALREADY don’t like him  (because he is rude, or talks down to you or talks over your head, or who you catch in a lie, etc)  why would you invite him back?
  5. The contractor who listens to you.   It’s all any of us want, really.  To be listened to.   Ask questions..  Tell him your concerns.  Give him a chance to answer everything and put any concerns you have to rest.   Sometimes the sign of the best contractor isn’t the one who necessarily tells you what you want to hear, but the one who  responds to you the most honestly

So next time you or someone you know is ready to talk to a window, siding, or door contractor they can trust, contact us.   Experience what a non pushy, honest, and trustworthy home improvement contractor can be like!

Author:  Melissa Brager, Universal Windows Direct

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Busy Busy... What has Universal Windows Direct been up to?

It's been a month, dear reader.    Sadly we have allowed ourselves to get behind in our blogging but do not worry, we did not forget about you!    We are back at it and ready to get caught up.     Business has been good, our personal lives have been good, we've just been running like crazy. 

We have successfully finished our summer show and event season.    Gone are the days of hanging in the tent, hoping for good weather overnight, and searching out our next great meal from a food truck.   I think that Taco Cielo from the Dakota County Fair was my favorite this year!   Mmmmmm!!!

Our fall and spring home show season gets underway soon and we have all of our dates finalized.   Sometimes I feel like we're a rock bank booking our next great tour.   We always have free or discounted tickets for shows so definitely check our website or call us if you're interested in enjoying a home show and vising your favorite window company!

Speaking of home shows, we are moving forward with some awesome new displays for our larger products.   They will debut in 2012!

New product options!   Our UniShield siding has come out with new colors to provide you with even more options for customizing your home and creating the look you've dreamed of.     Our UniShield fiberglass entry doors have just release new styles that include 3/4 glass on the front.   A nice way to get the look on the front of your home "just right". 

We are growing!   We have brought on another installer and are currently looking to grow our sales department.   If you know anyone looking to get some sales experience, send them our way. 

All work and no play?  No way!!   We have a vacation scheduled in December and are looking forward to our annual sales meeting in January.    Not only that, but with fall TV underway, we are glad to "see"  all of our old friends.    Hey, there is nothing wrong with some quality couch time, right?

Beyond all of that, we are happily selling high quality, energy efficient windows, siding, and doors at factory direct prices to homeowners all across the Twin Cities.    To learn more about our products or to schedule a free, no obligation estimate, contact us today.

UWD MN at a Summer Events: A behind the scenes look at UWD working outdoor events

Raise your hand if you've been to a Fair or Outdoor Festival this year.    Raise both hands if you've been to more than one.   Now smile because you feel silly with both your arms in the air.

 Summer in MN is the best thing on Earth.  Every weekend you can find a summer festival in a local city,   Celebrations center around everything from raspberries to potatoes to stock cars to just the city itself.   No matter what they are celebrating you are almost guaranteed to find yummy food, activities for kids, a midway, a live band, a car show and a business fair.

Show and event marketing is a huge part of our marketing plan at Universal Windows Direct MN.    Throughout the summer (June - August) we spend the majority of our weekends working in a booth to promote our business, and our awesome line of UniShield windows and doors.  Needless to say, we have it down to a science.

We can go from everything in the truck to "open for business" in about 20 minutes.

We have the perfect size cooler that ensures we drink a gallon of water a day.  

We have perfected the "show food" shopping trip to keep us eating and snacking right in the midst of full on fair food temptation.

 

We have made events into networki ng and social events.  Building relationships and enjoying the connections with familiar faces and other local business owners.  Some days would get very long without our friends.

We have a section in our closets dedicated to UWD wear - which ensures that no matter how many days the event is, and no matter what the weather has in store for us...  we will be branded.  In layers.

Last but not least, we know that working these summer shows are different than working home improvement expos.  We know you didn't head out to the fair with a window replacement project in mind.   So we show you our windows, we give stickers to your kids, we answer your questions and if you don't want to schedule a free estimate, we'll give you a brochure to take home.   We know that when you're ready, you'll call us.

Thanks to every single person this summer who stopped by our tent to talk with us. Days can get long and we can get a little crazy.

Thanks to previous customers who made a point to visit.  Thanks to all the show sponsors who make us feel appreciated and welcome, and thanks to that girl at Pride with the pink and purple pigtails who bounced in to give us a smile because we looked lonely.   It isn't easy to work those events, but it's worth it.   We love our company and we  love offering such a great product at a factory direct price.

If you're looking to get a free quote on replacement windows, sliding glass patio doors, front entry doors or vinyl siding, contact us today.   We'd be happy to stop out.

Tempered Glass: Why do I need my windows tempered?

Tempered glass is a type of safety glass that is 4-5 times stronger than regular glass.   Because of how its made (through a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling) it is a much harder and more brittle type of glass.    When tempered glass breaks, it shatters into little pebbles without any dangerous sharp edges.  Check it out, its quite cool.

Tempered glass is for your safetyTempered glass turns into tiny pebbles when broken.

Your car windows are tempered, for example.

The State of MN building code actually requires tempered glass in several locations of your house and your window replacement will not pass inspection if certain windows do not have tempered glass in them.   It's all in the name of protecting you and your family from potential hazards.

This is why it surprises me a little bit when homeowners and/or contractors are confused about why they need tempered glass.   So here we are on the Friday morning blog and I'm going to lay it all out there.   Me.  The office girl.  The advocate for tempered glass.

Ask yourself these questions about a window you are putting in.   If the answer is YES, then tempered - or safety glass is required.

  1. Is the window less than 18 inches from the floor?
  2. Is it a patio door?   (UniShield Patio Doors come standard with tempered glass)
  3. Is it a large window more than 9 square feet?
  4. Is the window in a bathroom and close to the bathtub?
  5. Is the window within 3 feet of a door?
  6. Is the actual top of the window within 3 feet of the floor?

Tempered windows are your safety net.  They are like a little bit of insurance, or peace of mind that if someone falls,  if the furniture gets pushed hard into the glass,  if a lamp falls off the table,  if you slip getting out of the tub, that at least the glass won't shatter and cause additional harm.

If you are thinking about replacing some windows and are looking for an in home consultation on which windows may need to be tempered, contact us today.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windows at the Fair?: Top Questions asked about Windows at the Dakota County Fair

How many replacement windows and siding companies are at the Fair?  If you are anything like me you're freaking out about the fact that its mid-August.    County Fairs mean that summer is coming to a close.   As much fun as we have looking at the animals, watching the demo derbies, eating the fried food and looking at all the cool stuff in the exhibitor buildings we can't deny that school is around the corner, and winter isn't far behind.

As a window girl the County Fairs mean that I basically leave home for a week.  I pack fruit, healthy snacks and sandwiches so I am less tempted by all the Fair Food.  (If you've ever met me, you know this doesn't work very well.)  I bring a book for the hours where no one is around, and I look forward to meeting my neighbors.    I also do my best to tell interested fair -goers about our awesome UniShield windows and doors and answer their questions the best I can.

After 5 days and 55 hours at the Fair,  I have compiled this list of Top Questions asked at the Universal Windows Direct Booth at the Dakota County Fair.

Q: Is that a wood window?      A:   No, the UniShield window is a vinyl replacement window.    We are excited to offer three different wood grain finishes that give you the look of wood to match your cabinets, floors or woodwork, but in a 100% maintenance free vinyl finish.

Q:  Are these replacement windows or new construction?   A: Both.   The majority of the windows we sell are replacement windows, but we do also do  also sell to remodelers and we can order any window you need with a nailing fin.

Q: What if I want to install the window myself?   A: We do sell windows directly to individuals and contractors.   However, installing windows isn't for amateurs.   If you're not totally comfortable installing a window please allow us to install it for you.

Q: What is your warranty?  A:   Universal Windows Direct offers the double lifetime warranty on windows.   This means that your new windows will be covered for as long as you are in your house, and 30 years to the next homeowner.   This is a non-prorated warranty.   We stand behind the quality of our windows!

Q: Do you make awning windows? A: Yes.   We can build any style window you need.  Double hungs, sliders, casements, awnings, hoppers, garden windows, bays and bows.

Q: Where are the cows?   A:  The did leave for a night for a barn cleaning, but no worries...  the next afternoon we had a huge cow trailer parade and they were all returned, safe and sound.

Universal Windows Direct at the Dakota County FairThe cows are back!

Q: My window is  really weird size.   Can you do custom sizes?   A: Yes!  All of our windows are custom ordered to fit your rough opening.   So bring us your weirdest size window and we'll replace it.

To everyone who stopped by our booth at the fair, thank you.   I appreciated the chance to tell you about our great windows. If it was a particularly slow time of the day, I appreciate the visit.   If you have any additional questions, or are interested in a free quote, contact us today.

 

 

 

 

 

MN Storm Damage: How Universal Windows Direct will fix your home after a storm

Ah, Minnesota in the spring time.  Daffodils, street sweepers, warmer temps and ……severe weather.  We get it all... severe thunderstorms, hail, high winds, and sadly, tornadoes.  We know there are lots of companies in the Twin Cities area that are storm chasers.  Their business relies heavily on repairing homes after the big storms sweep through and leave entire neighborhoods devastated.

We think storm chasing is a little bit creepy.   We envision these contractors glued to the weather channel, gleefully rubbing their hands together and giggling with delight as the latest tornado warning is posted.  They fire up their trucks and show up in your yard just as you’re looking at the damage and feeling overwhelmed.  In the heat of the moment you will pay anything to have your house put back together again and they know it.

Universal Windows Direct, MN isn’t like that.

We understand how stressful it can be to have your house torn apart.   We are that company who says “Hey, a terrible thing has happened here.   I’ve been there and I can help you fix it”.

When you are ready to fix your house – to replace the damaged windows, siding, front doors or patio doors, then call us.   We work 7 days a week, night and day.   We will answer all your questions, we will show you our exclusive UniShield products, and will never leave without giving you a price.

We believe you can  put your home back together again with high performing, energy efficient products at  factory direct prices.  We will work with you to give you and your family whatever you need to get your home put together again.

The price reflects when you buy direct.  Quotes are always free and no job is too small!

 

Just another day in the office: Behind the scenes with Universal Windows Direct

Hi!  Welcome back to our blog.   I know I promised a more personal glimpse into the business, so here I go.

I started work today at 8:30 and this was my morning:

  • General administrative paperwork
  • Finishing up the blog on vinyl siding
  • Receiving the latest window and door shipment   (everything we expected arrived, except the brochures for the upcoming show, of course)
  • A meeting with a potential new credit card processing company.

On the way to the meeting we got a call from a lady who was referred by a customer of ours we installed a year ago.  I love that!   She was hoping someone had time to meet her at 1:00 today and luckily Steve was open.   He spent the afternoon with her talking about windows and ultimately selling them to her.   Of course, on the way he stopped to drop off some materials for the installers and on the way back he visited the install site again to check on progress and make sure the customer was thrilled.

Meanwhile, I ate my lunch (leftover spaghetti!) and planned out menus for the next week. You see, we have a big home show coming up this weekend and nothing - I mean NOTHING - makes you want to plan a menu more than the thought of being trapped in the convention center eating grease for 3 days.   Not only that, but I have learned that a person who works quite a bit from her home office gets much lazier about meals than a person who leaves to work in a cube.   If I don't have a plan, nothing happens.   But I digress.

I ran to the bank to make our deposits from yesterday, dropped off a cable box at the cable company, completed the grocery shopping ($35 in coupon savings!) and then ran to meet a remodeler at our warehouse to pick up the windows he ordered.

Since I was so close I went into the office to check on the status of a few orders and to check emails.   I didn't get the email I was hoping for.  Apparently L&L Exhibition Management, the promoters for the home remodeling show this weekend,  are running a TV ad to promote the show that features Steve at the beginning of it!     A friend of ours called to say she saw it today while watching "The View".   I'm dying to see it and so I called the company asking if they could email me a copy of the commercial.  Stay tuned.  If I get it I'm posting it!

Here it is, 4:00pm on this beautiful day I'm finally back at home and ditching the office in favor of the sunshine and the fresh air.   This is my favorite part of the day because I get to blog a little and do a little work on our web marketing campaign.  When I'm done out here I'll  get a little workout in and hopefully get started prepping for my garage sale.   That is, unless I get tempted with a nice long walk outside.

If you want to be part of our day - in the form of an in-home consultation for windows, siding, or doors, contact me.  I'll send Steve out and you guys will have a ball!

The price reflects when you buy direct.  Universal Windows Direct, MN offers you the highest quality home improvement products at factory direct prices.

Vinyl Siding: What Should I Look for When Buying Vinyl Siding?

Buying vinyl siding doesn't have to be difficult, but most people have no idea where to start.  Bottom line,  you need to choose a vinyl siding that is strong, rigid, durable, and energy efficient, that is also beautiful.

Think about it!  When you drive up to a house the first thing you notice is its appearance.   A vinyl siding with solid construction will affect how it looks.  It immediately boosts your curb appeal and increases the value of your home.

As you shop for vinyl siding, consider the following:

Strong vinyl siding is constructed to perform well over time.

Look for a siding that has been impact tested and has a panel thickness of at least .44.   Choose siding with an insulated backing to  offer you even more  impact resistance and overall strength.  Finally,  look for features like a staggered or  rolled nailing hems that will increase the quality of the install by making sure the connection of the siding panels to your home is tight.

You want your siding to be very rigid.

When the install is completed you want to gaze proudly at the strong straight lines down the side of your  house.    Your siding should never look wavy, sag, or have any gaps in it.

The  TriBeam suspension system offered in the UniShield siding is one of the most rigidly constructed panels available  and will make sure your siding will continue to look beautiful for years to come!

How durable is the siding?

Weather is the enemy of poorly constructed siding.   A thin siding with no insulation will be quick to dent and chip in a hail storm.     A siding that hasn’t conformed to industry fading standards will fade quickly under the heat of the sun.  Siding panels in the shorter 12’ lengths increase the total seams on your house – giving wind a chance to pull away those panels  and giving water  and insects an open invitation to invade.

Finally, look at the warranty.   A  5 year warranty is okay.   A 30 year warranty is better.   A warranty against hail damage and fading is the best.     Always ask about the warranty and ask to see it before making your buying decision.

Perm Ratings matter.

Did you know that the average household creates moisture and humidity through normal activities like showering, and cooking?      Perm ratings measure how well that moisture can escape the house.   Choose a house wrap and vinyl siding product with a perm rating of at least a 5.

Always pick Energy Efficiency.

 

It's just smart.  Look for a siding with a full insulation backer to increase the overall energy efficiency of your home.  Your siding covers your entire home.  You want it to be at least as energy efficient as your windows, right?

 

To learn more about UniShield Siding from Universal Windows Direct, contact us today for a free, in home consultation.   Remember, the price reflects when you buy direct!

Hiring a Contractor: Find a Contractor You Can Trust

Easy, right?   Start by getting referrals from family and friends.   If someone you trust had a good experience with a company, chances are you will too.  Don’t forget to Use your social network on Facebook and Twitter!

If a contractor is punctual, professional and organized when he meets with you, chances are he will run a clean job site.   Use this quick checklist as a guide:

  • Is he on time?
  • Does he have a tidy appearance?
  • Is he licensed?
  • Does he carry liability and workers comp insurance?
  • Is he certified by the EPA to perform lead safe practices on your home if needed?
  • Can  he describe the install process to you?
  • Is he able to show you pictures of his work?

Remember, YOU are the customer.   Don’t let him push you into making a decision until you are ready.   You get to decide what you want on your home. Make sure he answers all of your questions to your satisfaction.  And always, ask for references!

Universal Windows Direct is proud to be a contractor you can trust.   Contact us today for a free quote.  612-866-2888