Vinyl Windows, Siding and other great investments for your Home.


You’ve just bought the worst house in the best neighborhood. Now it’s time to spruce the place up a bit. But deciding how to split up your budget could make a lasting impact.




Kitchen remodel

Kitchen & Bath.

Remodeling your Kitchen or bath is sure fire way to WOW guests and also give you a pretty nice return. Kitchen and Bath remodels are usually the most expensive when comes to construction with an average recouped cost of 66.75%. So what are the best investments when redoing your Kitchen or Bathroom? Keep the finishes traditional with all-wood cabinets and stone countertops. Save square footage by skipping the whirlpool tub and going for a walk-in shower. If you recently purchased an old home with a lot of charm but only one bathroom, it is a smart investment to add more Bathrooms rather than remodel your current one.


Windows

Home maintenance.

The major thing that homeowners often overlook is the structural things like windows, roofing, and a front door. Although choosing the right windows might not be as glamorous as choosing colors of granite countertops, it will improve the livability of the home as well as increase the value of your home when it comes time to sell. Investing in Home maintenance like windows or doors will give you the largest cost recouped in the metro with an average of 73%. It is important to remember that not all windows are created equal. Universal Direct windows are custom made for each home, while other window providers have one size fits all windows, Universal Windows Direct windows look like they were original to the home. An effective replacement window will keep the inner pane of glass warmer to the touch during winter and cooler to the touch during the summer. Our exclusive UniShield® system has been proven to be more effective than comparable products on the market today, which in turn, means more energy savings for the homeowner.


Siding

Curb appeal.

When it comes to selling your home, first impressions count. If the exterior of your home is lackluster, it doesn’t matter how nice the inside is, most buyers won’t get past the front door. That’s why siding has a recouped cost of 74.9%. Make smart decisions when it comes to siding, Vinyl siding looks great and is guaranteed to be maintenance free. Our exclusive UniShield Vinyl Siding offers endearing looks and enduring performance, making your vision for your home a reality. All of our vinyl siding delivers the warmth and quality appearance of wood without the costly, time-consuming maintenance and repairs. Superior panel thickness and an advanced lock design provide superior rigidity and exceptional holding power, keeping panels straight and tight in the most extreme of conditions. UniShield siding has been tested extensively and rated to withstand virtually anything that Mother Nature may throw at, including Gale-force winds, hail, as well as snow and ice during the winter.


Home Additions

Extra space.

A common problem for homeowners is running out of space. If you are living in a booming housing market, it might be to be too expensive to stay in your desired neighborhood while increasing your square footage. Make your current home, your dream home by investing in additions like extras bedrooms or bathrooms. Every 1,000 square feet added to a home boosts the sale price by more than 30 percent, according to the 2005 study for the National Association of Realtors. A new trend for home additions is hobby rooms. Whether it's an exercise room or room devoted solely to your antique stamp collection, it will increase the value of your home. The average cost recouped for home additions 53.4% But don't go square footage crazy, you don't want to price yourself out of your current neighborhood.

Call today Steve for a free in-home estimate
(612) 866-2888


Window Replacement: Do you Check the Contractor's Insurance Before You Sign a Contract?

Replacing Windows in your home can be a long and confusing process.   Once a decision is made on a window purchase,  contractor details can be overlooked.    

 

The results are not surprising.   If you're like most people you care about the level of liability insurance your contractor carries,  but when you're in the thick of decision making on windows you don't think of it.   You and your window buying partner are choosing styles, colors, glass upgrades, and often trying to fit the windows you want replaced in to your budget.    By the time you've come to decisions on all of that,  it can be hard to remember if your contractor carries insurance.   Did it come up when you first met him?  Did you ask to see it?  Did he say he had it but you didn't see it?    Suddenly, the excitement of buying new windows can be clouded by panic that you may not have hired the right person for the job.  

 

Next time you meet with a contractor to discuss a project, arm yourself with information.     Download our FREE eBook on "9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor"  and feel confident in your decision to hire.

  

 

 

Replacement Window Cost: What does it cost to replace a window?

What does a window cost?  

You know you need to replace some windows but you really feel you need to get an idea of what windows cost before you let a sales guy into your home.   You do a quick web search, you call a few places, and find you aren’t really getting a straight answer.   Frustrating!     What does a window cost?   It seems like it should be a straight answer.  But it isn’t.   You wouldn’t call a car dealership and ask what a car costs would you?   The last time you wanted a house did you call a Realtor and ask what a house costs?   No – because with those purchases you’ve made them before and you understand that quality, options, brand, and features all make a difference in the bottom line price.

Guess what?  Windows are the same way.  {gallery}double hung{/gallery}

Sure, you can buy a window for $189 but you can also  buy a window for $1500 or more.   That is a wide range and not particularly helpful.  So when you call and ask us what a window costs we can't tell you.   We aren’t trying to be rude.   We need to understand what you’re shopping for so we can be helpful.   The answer to each of the questions below will impact the price of the window. 

 

How big is the window?

What style is the window?

Are you looking at vinyl, fiberglass, wood, aluminum clad, a composite or a mix?

Do you want the window unfinished, primed, stained, painted, an upgraded vinyl color?

Do you want double pane or triple pane glass?

Do you care about energy efficiency?  You can have air, argon or krypton in the panes of glass

How many coats of Low E do you want?

Which spacer do you want in the glass package?

Does the window need to be tempered glass or egress size to meet code?

Do want the glass obscured?

Do you want to upgrade your screen to a full screen or a smaller weave?

Do you want grids or etched glass?

What is the condition of the existing window frame?   Does the sill need to be rebuilt?

Are we doing the install or are you?

Is the install a pocket / retrofit / replacement or is it a full frame install?

Is nailing fin required?

Will new stops, sills and jamb need to be built?  If yes, are we looking at pine or oak?  Will you paint or stain when we’re done?

How does the interior casing look?  Can we re-use it?

 

You don't have to know all of these answers right now.   The purpose of an in-home estimate is to help you and your window buying partner understand what these options mean, and decide what you're really buying so we can give you a price.  

Every window replacement job is going to be different, and different factors and decisions will play into the cost.  If you know you need to replace windows in your home and you want to get an idea on what it will cost you, an in-home estimate is the only way.   Let a window consultant come into your home and help you and your window buying partner decide what you want in your home.  In -home estimates should be free, and should not come with an obligation to buy.

Contact Steve the Window Guy today and get started with that quote.  

 

Author:  Melissa Brager

 

Want more info?  Check out these blogs:

 

Choosing a glass package

Choosing window colors and options

 

 

 

 

 

Now Hiring: Marketing Manager

Marketing Manager needed to work in our Bloomington, MN office.

 

Who we are:   

  • We are a local, family – owned company with offices in Bloomington, MN.  
  • Steve the Window Guy is a brand of our business.   Universal Windows Direct is our company name, and ties us to a pretty awesome group of dealers and resources throughout the country.
  • We work hard, we take our work seriously, and we laugh a lot.  
  • We love cheeseburgers & popcorn and some days we have a toddler in the office.

What we do:

  • We make homes warmer, cozier, and prettier.
  • We sell and install windows, siding, roofing, front doors, patio doors, and attic insulation
  • We do what we say we’re going to do and we take pride in our work.
  • We all pitch in.  We all share ideas.  We all work together to meet our goals.

What you’ll do:

  • You’ll make sure we have appointments in the books for our sales guys to run.
  • You’ll hire, train, and manage a small staff of people who will set appointments by
    • Working home shows and events
    • Marketing our products door to door
    • Working in a call center
  • You’ll work shows, you’ll market door to door, and you’ll make phone calls, too
  • You’ll work tirelessly to help the team meet our goals.

Your background will include:

  • College degree in business, management, marketing, or similar field.
  • 2+ years in a customer service field;
  • 1+ years supervising staff
  • 1+ years working in a call center or canvassing preferred
  • Proficiency with Microsoft word, excel, and internet programs. 
  • You will need to be able to lift 50-75 pounds. 
  • You will need to be able to stand on your feet for up to 8 hours a day.

 

To apply: Send resume and letter of interest with salary requirements to Melissa at mbrager@universalwindowsdirect.com.

To learn more about us, please visit our website at www.SteveTheWindowGuy.com   or www.UniversalWindowsMN.com

 

 

 

Siding and Roofing Season: Summer is the time to replace your siding or roofing with Universal WIndows Direct


This blog reviews why summer is the perfect time to replace siding or roofing on your home. Siding and roofing replacement is the home improvement of choice in the summer months. Especially in the short summer, we have here in Minnesota! At Universal WIndows Direct we can install replacement windows and doors all winter long, but tearing off and replacing the siding or the roof on your home is really a summer project. Don't you agree?

Siding


Steve the Window Guy is a siding guy too - and has done replacement siding jobs in steel and fiber cement, but his product of choice is the full backed insulation panel of vinyl siding. Here is why:

  1. The insulated backer provides more insulation AND makes sure the siding is strong and rigid—resisting dings, hail and whatnot significantly better than vinyl siding without the backer. Plus, a rigid siding panel gives you a straight clean install so your home will look amazing when the job is completed.
  2. You can choose from a wide range of colors, and a full host of decorative options so the completed project is exactly what you want




Roofing


Now let's talk roofing. We are proud to be an Owens Corning Preferred Contractor. The best thing about being preferred is that you can be confident that we will use the entire system of Owens Corning Roofing products on your home, which lets us offer you a 50-year warranty. If you’re going to replace your roof anyway, don’t you want the best warranty? You do. So how do you know if you need a new roof?
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  1. If it is bad, it is bad. Do you have missing shingles, bald spots, moss growing, or water getting in your home? That is bad.
  2. If your roof is over 15 years old, you might want to have it looked at. While roofing products today are built to last, that hasn’t always been the case. Don’t wait for a problem. If you think your roof may need to be replaced call us.
  3. Weather. My goodness. A good hail or wind storm can cause serious havoc to your roof. If a storm rolls through your neighborhood and you want a trusted, local company to take a look, call us. We are glad to help. 612-866-2888



Roofing consultations are free. We will get up on your roof, inspect for damage or signs of excess wear, and will share information about the Owens Corning System of roofing. New roofs can be installed in a month.

Get your free in-home estimate today!

Home Shows: Steve the Window Guy Closes out Spring Home Shows

This blog gives a behind the scenes look at our life working home shows!

We survived.

The spring home show season for 2014 is officially over for us.

show staff Some companies hire a staff of people who do nothing but work shows.   We chose not to do that.   Steve, Zach and I work most of them.   We prefer to have people in our booth who know the product and can have an intelligent conversation with you.    Zach, Dave, Joe, Sarah and Mike are all people we adore both personally and professionally.    They are smart.  They are helpful.  They are knowledgeable.  They are good people and we trusted them to represent our company.   Having that level of trust made those big huge long shows very successful for us.   More importantly, their help meant we didn't have to be there every minute.

Home shows are a lot of hours.  Still, they are the best way to get our name out to the local communities.      Are they the only way for us to personally connect with homeowners and potential customers?  YES!   Are they hands down the best way for a prospective customer to see the quality of our replacement windows and doors while comparing to the competition?  ABSOLUTELY!

But is working a home show every weekend easy?  NO!

While everyone else is winding down their Friday and calculating how much longer they have to pretend to work before Happy Hour , we are just getting started.  We are loading the truck.  We are printing our move-in instructions.  We are gambling with rush hour traffic; trying to get a bit more done in the office before we go set up.

sarah showHave you ever seen a home show get set up?  It’s like one of those little Chinese puzzles we used to get as kids at birthday parties.  Everyone is jockeying for a spot by the door.  Everyone is frantically unloading their stuff and dumping it into their booth so they can move the truck and the next guy can get in.  It isn’t a calm process.

Then, once all of our displays are inside we arrange the booth.   Do you think the booth would be easy to arrange every time?  It isn’t!   We have different set ups every single time based on the location and size of the booth, the number of corners the booth has, whether or not we’re on the end, and even what show it is.     This means once everything is unloaded we do the whole scratching our head thing and start moving stuff until it feels right.    (Not unlike when we moved into our home trying to decide the best spot for the sofa!)

We do our best.  We make a list of what we forgot, and we head home.  Do we stop for ice cream?  Yes.  Most days.

If we are both working, the “show prep” continues with prepping the babysitter for the next day.   We try to clean the house so we don’t look like total slobs.   We try to make sure there is food for the sitter and for the baby… and we usually do an okay job at it.      Just like that our Friday night is shot.

Saturday Mornings are crazy.  We are busy getting up and ready to go.  We need a big breakfast.  We need to pack a lunch.  We spend what time we can with our daughter.   We greet the babysitter and give her last minute instructions, then we race off to buy the caffeine we’ll need for the day and then race to the show.    Often we stop at the office to grab something.   More often then I’d like to admit, we stop at the grocery store to buy food for lunch.   And a doughnut.   (our nutrition suffers). Doughnut

By the time the show opens we are ready to go and we work.   We talk to hundreds of people every day.  We demo our replacement windows.  We show the quality of our steel and fiberglass entry doors.    We talk about the benefit of being a preferred contractor with Owens Corning for our roofing.   We talk until we cannot talk any more.  Then we ride home in silence.   Exhausted.

The next day we repeat the whole routine..  with the added bonus of tear down.    At the end of the show we tear it all down, pack it all up, re-load the truck, jockey for loading space in the back of the show space and then take it all home.  And unload it all back in to the warehouse.   Sunday night is usually a late night.

Then on Monday morning the week starts all over again.   The phone keeps ringing, orders keep getting placed, jobs keep getting installed, and our sales guys keep running appointments.   We look ahead to the next weekend and what we need to do to get ready.

For us, home show season starts at the end of January and goes until mid-April.   We have a few weekends off, but for the most part we are working every weekend.  It is necessary.  It is beneficial.  It is tiring.  It is exhausting.

weides at the home showIf you talked to us at a show this year, thank you very much.     We appreciate your time and consideration.    We love our company.   We believe in our products and we strive to do the best possible job for you and your family.

Next weekend we have a weekend.   This is going to feel new to us.  And it is going to feel so very  GOOD.   I can’t wait.

Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is in the market for replacement windows,  doors, siding or roofing, please contact us for a free quote.

Steve The Window Guy sells more than just windows in MN! Steve The Window Guy sells more than just windows in MN!

Author:  Melissa Brager

Related Articles:

Why you should go to a Home Show

Tips for Visiting Companies at a Home Shows

Finding a Contractor you can trust

 

 

 

 

Roofing and Siding Replacement with Universal Windows Direct

Contact Universal Windows Direct, MN for your siding and roof replacement after the recent storms.

Roofing and Siding  can get beat up when huge hail storms come through.    If you live in one of the areas that was hit hard you are probably in the midst of dealing with door to door canvassers, insurance adjusters and contractors.   How are you supposed to know if you are making the right decision?roof hail damage

It seems like life would be much simpler if you had one contractor who you trusted that you could just call. At Universal Windows Direct people know us for our exclusive UniShield Windows but did you know we also do siding, roofs, and gutters?

If your roof and siding has been affected by the recent storms we would love to come out to give you an estimate on the repair of your home, and have the opportunity to earn your business.

Still doing your online research?  No problem!   Here are a few items that all reputable contractors suggest you check on before hiring someone to work on your home.

  1. Is the contractor a local company?   You don't want a "here today gone tomorrow" contractor from another state to work on your home, do you?
  2. Is the contractor licensed?   Click here to check the status of a contractor's MN license.
  3. Is the contractor covered with insurance?  Is it enough insurance to cover your home if something goes very very wrong during the install?   Ask to see their coverage.
  4. Has the contractor been in business for more than a few months?  Make sure they have both the skill and the experience to give you a beautiful finished product.
  5. What the reputation of the contractor?  Check out the BBB and Angie's List for Reviews.

This list may seem like common sense,  but when your home is damaged and your life is disrupted it can be very hard to keep your common sense hat on.   Your focus becomes GET IT DONE!  No matter how hurried you feel, always choose a contractor who is local, licensed, insured, and with the experience and reputation to do a great job for you. universal windows direct mn

Universal Windows Direct is a family owned company that is owned and operated in the Twin Cities.    We are fully licensed and insured, and take pride in the relationships we have built with our past customers.    We are more interested in making sure your home is put back together the way you want it to be.  If the work wouldn't be good enough for our

home, it won't be good enough for your home.   We are here to make things easier for you.

Call us today at 612-866-2888  or contact us  through our website for a free, no obligation estimate.   We'd love to help you!     Do you like videos better than websites?  Click here to watch a video introducing our company!

Author:  Melissa Brager

Related Articles:

Why warranty matters

Go with your gut when hiring a contractor

Call us after a storm

 

 

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 Fogged Up: The Number One Reason Why Windows Fog up.

Are your window fogged up? Instead of peering through clear glass to enjoy the view outside are you stuck looking at dirty, drippy, fogging glass? Do you hate driving up to your house and being greeted by fogged windows? Have you ever wondered why this happens?

Metal spacers will cause your window to fail Windows fog up when your glass package has failed. At some point the seal that was holding that glass package together popped, causing all the insulating gas to escape. Without that barrier, and with an opening, wind and condensation have been getting in and causing the mess. Not only that, but without the Argon gas, the window is no longer energy efficient at all.

 

Glass packages with metal and aluminum spacers in them will fail. It doesn’t matter if

Metal Spacers cause windows to fog up

your house is 3 years old or if you just had the “best” windows put in 10 years ago. Look closely at the bottom of your glass. See that silver metal? It’s your cause of failure.

Independent tests done by the NFRC test exactly how long each type of window spacer is expected to last. Windows that use metal or aluminum spacers are proven to fail in as little as 3 years and in some cases have lasted as long as 27 years.

When you are shopping for replacement windows focus on finding a quality product at a great price.  Quality starts with the spacer system. Choose a windows with a warm edge super spacer. The super spacer is a flexible material that can actually move with your glass package, allowing it to last 70-100 years longer than any other spacer on the market

I was in a home recently describing the different spacer systems to a homeowner.

You’ve worked too hard for your money. Home improvement decisions need to pay for themselves over time and need to add to the value of your home. Don’t waste your money on a replacement window with a metal spacer that will need to be replaced again in the next 10 years. Choose the highest quality spacer on the market. Choose the super spacer.

Universal Windows Direct, MN offers homeowners across the Twin Cities the highest quality replacement window at a factory direct price. Our exclusive UniShield window comes standard with the warm edge super spacer and a warranty that backs it up. Contact us today for a few quote.

Window Terminology: Window Terms Starting with "B"

Balance

A mechanical device (normally spring-loaded) used in single- and double-hung windows as a means of counterbalancing the weight of the sash during opening and closing.  UniShield windows come with a true balance system, and no weights for a cleaner look and for consistent performance.

Bay Window

An arrangement of three or more individual window units, attached so as to project from the building at various angles. In a three-unit bay, the center section is normally fixed, with the end panels operable as double-hung or casement windows.

Bow Window

A rounded bay window with 5 or more sashes – often all of them open.

Building Permit

A requirement in most cities to ensure the installation meets state building code requirements.

 

For more information on window terminology, and to get your free quote on replacement windows from Universal Windows Direct, MN contact us today

 

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!

Replacing Siding: When should you replace your siding?

First of all, it isn’t as hard as it seems.  If you’re starting to think it might be time to replace your siding, you might be right.

Homeowners ask us these questions all the time:

“When should I replace my siding?”

“How do I know my siding needs to be replaced?”

"I want my siding replaced, but should I?

Top 5 Ways to know it’s time to replace your siding

Is the existing siding damaged? Stand on the street or in your backyard and evaluate the overall siding.  Can you see cracks, chips, or holes in any of the panels?  How many of the panels?   A good rule of thumb is to replace all of the siding on your home when at least 5o of the panels are damaged.

  1. Is the siding warped or wavy? Stand along the side of your home and look down it.  This could be a sign of water damage.  
  2. How are the seams? Are they tight or are they loose and pulling away from the house?  Loose seams allow rain to get in behind the siding panels, causing ongoing damage to your home.
  3. Check for mildew, mold and dry rot – particularly if you have wood siding on your home now.  Mold and mildew create an unhealthy environment for you and your family.
  4. Lastly, think about the energy efficiency of your home. The siding industry has made some amazing improvements in the construction and performance of siding over the last few decades.  Replacing your old siding with new, energy efficient siding will make you more comfortable in your home.

Also worth nothing, although not really “top 5 list” worthy is this:   If you don’t like your siding anymore and you just want your house to look different, that is a good reason too.

No matter what your reason, when you’re ready to get a free quote on replacing your siding, contact Universal Windows Direct at 612-866-2888.  Serving the entire Twin Cities Metro Area.