I spoke with a company I found through one of the referral/portal sites. They are in the next state from me, but close by.
They sell exclusively Alside products.
The sales rep showed me the Alside siding, and what the differences are from cheapo siding. Same deal with the windows. The line he showed me was the Excalibur line. The siding looked good, but what do I know? The backer board is 1/2", with a 3.8 R-value.
I have Andersen tilt-wash windows upstairs, and was hoping to get them put in the rest of the house, but I'll be damned if I can find a contractor who does windows and/or siding and will do new construction windows like that. It seems that if you can't get a GC, you can't get these windows installed.
I don't have any de facto OBJECTION to vinyl replacement windows, but I've heard they leak, crack, are no good after 5 years, etc. I only want to do this ONCE and forget about it. So what's the deal with these windows? This company quoted me just over $400 each, installed, including trim work.
The company has been in business just over 3 years. They use their own contractors and also "freelancers" -- but not day laborers. They showed me the liability insurance certificate and said they have workman's comp as well and would show me that if I decide to do business with them. I have 3 references but one of them is the rep's friend.
I know the rule of thumb is to do business with companies that have been in business 5 years or more, but would this outfit be a huge risk? The prices seem to be fair, and within the budget that I estimated based on talking to other people who have had similar work done.