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We're in a split level, in Massachusetts, that was built in 1997 with contractor grade vinyl siding and vinyl windows, nothing fancy. One window has lost its seal, another has a broken tilt-in latch - nothing disastrous, but we would like to replace them, and figured we may as well do them all. The catch is that the house has 17 windows.

We were told by the one contractor we've had in that because the original windows are new construction vinyl, they can only be replaced by new construction windows - no retrofit. I've read a variety of threads on the new construction vs replacement window trade-offs, included good reasons why replacements shouldn't be used, but nothing saying when they can't be used. So is this correct, that we can't use replacement windows because the originals are new construction vinyl?

We've gotten one quote for Pella Architect running over $1800/window (tricked out, high end screens and hardware), and another for Harvey Tribute, at over $1200/window (both including installation). We know labor in MA will be expensive, but these seem insane. At these prices, we're looking at just fixing the two windows that need it instead of doing the whole house.

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Broken tilt-in latch, damaged seals: Replacement parts may be available, if you can figure out the manufacturer. MUCH cheaper than either insert or full replacement! Of course if the damage is worse than that, or you want to replace them for other reasons... –  keshlam Jun 7 at 5:10

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The price you mentioned may seem a little high, then again maybe not. Your question, if you can use replacement windows, would be no. The extrusions of the vinyl windows would not allow that. Just to get it out there, you could use them, but only after you remove the vinyl window completely, and install them like it was new construction. To do it that way would be a little counterproductive.

Depending on your rough openings, they may have spec'd custom sized windows that sent the price higher. I just gave a quote for replacing windows in a 1940's home with double hung weighted windows for just under $1000 each in Maryland. I spec'd 3-0/5-6 Andersen double hung windows with screens for new construction. It would be a total gut of the original window so the weight pockets could be filled in and reframe the RO. I could have spec'd replacement windows here and quoted it a lot cheaper, but that would have meant a lot of old wood still existing. I did not want to have that since the homeowner was remodeling the whole house in stages.

Keshlam's comment about researching replacement parts is a good route to take too.

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This novice tends to agree. Insert replacement windows are designed on the assumption that you can remove the interior and middle stops and rest the insert against the outer stops. Existing vinyl windows probably have those pieces molded into the frame. It might be possible to force-fit with some surgery, but I don't think it would be worth the effort and almost certainly would void any manufacturer's warranty on the new window. (Installed a few inserts in my own place last year to replace worn out 100-year-old sashes. Next time I'll know what I'm doing.) –  keshlam Jun 7 at 16:01

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