You can save yourself eight to 10 hours worth of wages by using a one-man crew to install windows. But on a typical multi-unit window job, you may well lose more than you save. A one-man crew is fine “if you have the time and you want to keep going inside, then outside,” says Jim Bodnar, owner of Fox River Valley Sash & Door, McHenry, Il., a window supplier to many area home improvement companies. “The advantage of two guys is that one can work inside, the other outside. It moves a lot faster and it's more convenient for the homeowner because you're not traipsing in and out every five minutes.”
TWO'S COMPANY In a perfect world, says Wes Neal, installation manager at American Siding & Window Systems in Urbandale, Iowa — meaning a world where “you're only installing sliders, casements, or double-hung windows” — maybe one guy could do it. But in most circumstances, two are far more practical, which is why many window replacement companies use two-man crews. It's faster.
“If they're a good crew, they can put in eight to 12 units in a day,” says David Braymiller, owner of Braymiller Builders, in Hamburg, N.Y. Steve Borgia, owner of Homeowner Resource Center, in Dunmore, Pa., says he has found that the perfect arrangement for crews is one guy with experience and carpentry skills and an eager-to-learn “apprentice as helper. According to Borgia, Homeowner Resource Center, which installs about 85% of its windows with its own crews, also benefits from such an arrangement because “you take a skilled guy, with someone not as skilled, and pretty soon they can branch out to two crews.”
SIZE OF THE JOB Beyond expertise, there's the size of the job. “We have three or four guys who install by themselves,” Neal says. The key to making that work, he points out, is picking the right jobs — small ones. Braymiller Builders sends a one-man crew for one or two-window jobs, or for a door or storm door. For big jobs, the company combines a two-man crew with a single-man crew. Three guys can far more easily handle a bay, a bow, or a big window mulled together.
Neal says that, normally, the productivity rate of a two-man crew should be about one window an hour, “trimmed out, capped, and everything.” Pressuring installers to speed it up can result in their cutting corners, he says, which is not desirable. It's worth asking yourself: “Is the customer paying for fast or is he paying for good?” Neal says.