By Jim Cory. Rich Gaspar, owner of Gaspar Construction in Seattle, notes that there's a 20% to 30% price difference between nationally known window brands and locally produced brands. He offers clients the option of picking either. But, he tells them, there is "no comparison." Unless clients are really scraping for dollars, national brand windows get specified. It's a "piece of mind difference," Gaspar says.

"The clients who choose the lesser products run a heightened risk of the windows failing," Gaspar says. "Especially on southern exposures." It costs as much to take a window out to fix or replace it as it does to buy a new one.

Though he's a certified dealer of a well-known national brand, upstate New York contractor Dett Otterbeck always asks clients what kind of windows they prefer. "If they have a specific brand they prefer to use, that's fine with me. I'm not going to lose a $90 grand job over two windows."

Apart from brand names, clients know little about the windows, Otterbeck says. "The actual quality of the product--R value, that kind of thing--they don't have a clue," he says. Otterbeck includes a flyer in his bid folder that contains technical information on the windows he's specified, to help clients make an informed choice.

Boise, Idaho, contractor Jim Strite is open minded if clients want a particular brand. But he doesn't encourage it. Strite, who regularly specifies a top national brand, says he needs to balance what customers might want against the track record of suppliers and especially against their ability to get the windows to the jobsite on schedule.

Recently, for instance, he specified a brand whose product had features the client specifically wanted in spite of Strite's service concerns about that particular supplier. In the past, missed delivery dates "have turned out to be very costly for us," he says. "When the windows don't show up, we're faced with re-scheduling trades and vendors, and each day you spend trying to work this out, the dollars are going down the road."