Crews for Weatherite, in Sacramento, Calif., routinely install the first window, complete and finished, then invite homeowners to inspect their work.
Credit: Photo: courtesy Weatherite Crews for Weatherite, in Sacramento, Calif., routinely install the first window, complete and finished, then invite homeowners to inspect their work.

Got a dozen windows to install? In the interests of efficiency, you remove all the old windows, prep each opening, then install the new units. How crazy would it be to take one out, prepare the opening, insulate, install, caulk, and trim only that one? Crazy enough to get the attention of homeowners, as it turns out.

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS Crews for Sacramento, Calif., window replacement company Weatherite routinely install the first window, complete and finished, then invite homeowners to inspect the work. Company owner Joe Sandino explains that the practice originated in his own days as a window installer. Sandino says he noticed that if clients were home, they'd sometimes follow him from room to room, opening to opening, concerned that the windows were the right ones, that they would be correctly installed, etc., all the while maintaining a nonstop stream of questions that affected his ability to complete the job.

Customers, he says, “get nervous when you start tearing open their home. They'll say: ‘Will it be done tonight? I don't want to sleep with holes in my house,' or ‘Will it be done in time for our barbecue?' And the more questions they ask, the less you get done.”

So Sandino began making it a practice to finish the first window, at which point he would invite the homeowner to check it out. Five years ago, as Weatherite's owner, he made it part of his company's standard operating procedure to complete the first window.

“Let them see it. Show how them it's done. Show how the window opens and closes,” he says. Customers — unused to being consulted by installers — are often thrilled by this. “They get so excited that they get on the phone and call their friends,” Sandino says.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS Typically, a crew chief and a helper — the company uses a crew of three installers — will move to install the first window while another crew member stages materials and gets the remainder of the windows ready. It usually takes anywhere from one to two hours to completely finish the first window. “The first question we ask the homeowner is: ‘Where would you like us to start?'” Sandino says. Since most don't have an opinion, the crew will select an opening closest to the tools and the truck.

“It's a way to relax homeowners,” Sandino says. And, for that, it's more efficient in the end.