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Question DetailsAsked on 4/22/2017

How much to enlarge a window?

I am thinking about purchasing a home, but the windows seem small. I want the rooms to be brighter. So I'm thinking of potential ways to enlarge the windows. Then again, I don't know if it will be worth it since I plan to resell within 5 years. How much would it be to install bigger windows? It is a single family ranch and I was thinking of enlarging the windows in the three bedroons and a bay window in the living room.

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You can find a number of previous similar questions with responses in the Home > Window and Doors link under Browse Projects, at lower left.

Also a couple of links here to typical (without opening enlargement) window replacement costs:

Generally speaking, you are talking $400-700 for normal size on up to 1000 or more to replace double-unit or larger (but not picture size) or wood windows respectively - enlarging the opening typically runs about $250-500 additional depending on specifics - more typically above $500 additional for a picture, large bay, or sliding glass door size opening. PER window, so an entire house swapout commonly runs in the $10,000-25,000 range - WITHOUT enlarging the openings which might add another $5,000-10,000 or more ballpark depending on number and size of new windows. And of course, whether normal or high-efficiency or arctic-grade windows and any special solar radiation treatment (for energy efficiency or ultraviolet light blocking) adds to the cost too, commonly pushing the average per-window cost to more around the $1000 range for those cases.

Since you are talking about moving, I would say your return on investment would depend a lot more on how old or deteriorated your windows are (in which case new ones can certainly improve the saleability), and on how small your current windows are compared to adjacent houses (i.e. do the rooms actuyally look cramped or murky because of the lack of window space ?). If these are normal, just smallish, but in decent condition windows - like mostly singles rather than double units, I doubt you will recover even 1/2 your investment at sale time unless they are really small or are deteriorated, so unless you think you will be really bothered by the small windows I would not replace them if this is not your "forever" house.

I would talk to your realtor about how much he/she thinks the windows are affecting the price - I would guess, unless in poor shape or really tiny openings, the answer will be a negligable amount - meaning come resale time new, larger windows will likely not improve the price much compared to comparable homes in the area. Your realtor can be a really good guide on things like this - but will likely also tell you what many realtors say to their clients: pick a house like uyou should a spouse - unless committed to a major fixer-upper job, buy one you want to live with as is, not one you envision how it would be after a lot of changes.

If you do decide to replace, be sure to get a firm bid from a window contractor good till several months after closing date, so you know how much this is going to cost in addition to the purchase price (including closing costs) BEFORE you are committed to an offering price. And realize, redoing them after closing means their cost will not be included in your mortgage - you will have to be paying full cash value for them, which might be a financial issue, does not spread the cost out over the life of the mortgage, and also might make this house a lot less desireable or economic than another one which looks brighter to you as-is. Certainly, all things considered and assuming this house does not have other features or benefits that really tie you to it, finding a house that suits you as-is is almost always going to be way cheaper than upgrading a home you are not happy with to a higher standard - especially if you are not a serious DIY'er. Also, generally speaking, most planned improvements which buyers are planning on at purchase time never get done, for financial or time availability or other reasons, so you run a good chance of buying a home which will not be upgraded (especially if looking at moving within 5 years or so) and will therefore not be as pleasant for you during that time.

One other possibility - pick one or two rooms you will be spending a lot of time in and put in larger (maybe substantially larger) windows or maybe an added window in only those rooms, to brighten them. One other thing - adding another standard size window which fits within two stud bays (so roughly 30" rough opening) is going to be cheaper by probably several hundred $ than widening an existing window to more than that width - so commonly your biggest bang for the bucks is adding same-sized windows (assuming the existing ones are not tiny) rather than much larger windows, though granted wider windows do admit better light.

And of course, changing lighting (maybe just light fixture swapouts, or adding lighting) is a LOT cheaper than changing windows when it comes to brightening up a room - ditto to repainting with brighter or lighter colors. On lighting changes - putting a second ceiling fixture relatively close to an existing one (on the same switch), or sconce lighting or such right above wall outlets, can commonly be a lot cheaper than an arbitrary new location because the wiring can be run from existing box to new one easily - commonly without ANY opening up of the drywall, so a few hundred per new fixture as opposed to the more common $500 range (wall/ceiling repairs included).

One other economic possibility - depending on how adverse you are to roof penetrations and how rainy or prone to snow-trapped water your roof is - is light tubes or skylights - thesmaller ones are generally cheaper than windows, though full-size skylights run about the sameas or more than a double-wide window unit - but because they are exposed to the sky all day rather than just to sunlight part of the day as a window is, generally give better room brightening. But you do have to be more careful to get an excellent contractor, so you don't get leakage issues. And if in a cold climate, to avoid condensation issues will definitely cost a LOT more than an equivalent sized window.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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