The BFRC/Fensa WER Shambles

Posted in Double Glazing, Trade Manufacturing with tags , , , on September 8, 2010 by dgframeology

Last week marked the one month deadline for conformity to the new Building Regulations coming into play on October 1st. September has so far been a manic rush for fabricators, IGU manufacturers and retailers alike to sign up/register for any form of compliance in order to safeguard the impending changes. These said changes were meant to change our industry for the better, providing more stringent guidelines and helping buildings and households around the nation become more energy efficient, whilst hopefully singling out those that had no respect for both the industry and their customers.

So, having invested heavily in the one and only scheme available until August, fabricators much like ourselves and Window Warehouse have been at the expense of the BFRC out of fear of non-compliance come October. As a medium-sized business this has been a difficult year, not due to business, but due to the roundabout occurrences from the GGF monopoly on the industry. Much like our competitors we have spent the last 6 months trying to comprehend the WER Rating Scheme and ensuring that our Haven Products are ready for our customers well in time for the changes.

We at Window Warehouse have now had all of our PVC-U casement windows energy rated and are waiting on ratings on our Tilt & Turns and Large Outer Frames.

This preparation and investment, however, now seems like a complete waste of time. A letter from FENSA dated August 2010 but arriving right at the end of the month, now states that the other option of compliance against a minimum ‘U’ value means that energy rated certificates are not needed as evidence to the consumer or inspector. This is as long as the PVC-U or timber window and frame is fitted with a sealed unit containing:

> Low E Glass

> Warm Edge Spacer (minimum 16mm)

> 90% Argon Gas

If these requirements are met by the IGU then ‘FENSA will consider without further evidence that the ‘U’ value of 1.6 has been achieved.’

FENSA will also be providing an online ‘U’ value Calculator from mid-September that will provide simulation calculations and its results will be stored in the FENSA database, as well as results from previous calculations made. The online calculator will cost only £199 per year for an unlimited number of calculations.

This is in stark contrast to the BFRC Scheme changes, with Detailed Energy Licence Holders having to pay £50 a time for Certificates of Addition, on top of the simulation and previous testing costs.

As for the retailers and builders, the Authorised Retailer Scheme at between £325 and £750 was also recently undercut by FENSA, offering a cut-price offer of approximately £150.

This highlights how the Glass and Glazing Federation have basically favoured those in the industry who simply didn’t want to partake in costly means of improving and rating their products. It allows the 90% of fabricators, as outlined by Nathan Bushell of the Gl@zine, who hadn’t signed up for the WER Scheme to continue to skim the lines of compliance to any form of regulation. Those that weren’t aware of the impending implications or who just didn’t care have been given free reign within what should be a set of stringent guidelines.

What baffles me is how two organisations owned by the same conglomerate could cancel each other out in the run up to one of the biggest governmental changes to have implications on the industry since 2006. How can either company justify confusing and duping so many businesses within the trade? It is simply wrong and people need to start speaking up against it, otherwise the BFRC, Fensa and the GGF as a whole will continue to tighten their stronghold on a seemingly unaware industry that doesn’t deserve the costly and damaging aftermath of what appears to be a complete planning and administrative shambles.

WER: The Beginning

Posted in Double Glazing, Trade Manufacturing, Windows Doors & Conservatories with tags , , , on July 20, 2010 by dgframeology

Thanks to revised Building Regulations and a new coalition Government the double glazing industry will be facing rigorous changes in the coming months. As documented in the Approved Documents L and F, the news that all replacement windows must hold a Window Energy Rating of ‘C’ or higher, or an equivalent u-value of 1.6, as from October 1st 2010, is good yet daunting news. The benefit is that the new legislation highlights our industry’s drive towards producing more energy efficient products in order to combat global environmental problems.

Window Warehouse Ltd., based on the south coast in Portsmouth, are already well into the process of testing and licensing all of their windows in order to achieve the minimum of a WER ‘C’ rating. Their Haven PVC-U Windows, using the Eclipse and Rustique WHS Halo profile systems, will be ready earlier than the proposed changes in order to provide their customers with the most efficient service possible. The Haven Windows incorporating the Eclipse profile have already achieved a minimum WER band ‘B’ and the alternative 5-chambered Rustique system will hold a minimum of WER band ‘C’ by August 2010.

The prospect of reaching this goal, however, is an unnerving one. For companies across the sector the task of having each of their windows tested to ‘C’ rated standards over the next few months is an inevitable yet costly process that may see some fall by the wayside.

The stringent guidelines set by the BFRC are also going to cause ruptures for business relations during this transition. IGU suppliers and hardware manufacturers may well become dependent on the double glazing companies who are able to hold the Window Energy Ratings for their complete products. If there are any changes or updates for these suppliers that could improve the overall product the upgrade becomes difficult as the cost is significantly increased due to more testing for the BFRC-licenced business. The IGU and hardware producers are therefore tied to manufacturing the exact specifications determined by their clients’ ‘A’-‘C’ rated windows.

At the other end of the industry, however, the BFRC have instigated an Authorised Retailer Scheme so that companies who source their sealed units independently from their window manufacturers can still present the product to their customers with a Window Energy Rating, in line with the manufacturers licence. Window Warehouse Ltd. instantly took advantage of this scheme and made sure that its clients were aware of the limited offer provided through the BFRC website by sending out a promotional letter and offering the correct specification details required to achieve the Window Energy Ratings for its Haven Windows.

The industry as we know it is changing and evolving and these new guidelines are an example of such movements. As we emerge from a recession consumers are seeking to invest in their properties once again in order to increase value and benefit from such improvements as energy efficient windows. With the internet and online services being more accessible than ever before, consumers are also able to make comparisons quickly and easily the industry is constantly becoming more competitive. People now understand that it is simple to find the best deals and best quality products by shopping around on the internet and it is essential that companies exploit such activities.

An online presence is becoming more and more important and Window Warehouse has recognised this by recently launching its new website (www.window-warehouse.co.uk). The online strength of the company is just another example of its efforts to be a market leader in the double glazing industry.

The initiatives of Window Warehouse highlight its constant endeavours to provide the utmost service and highest quality products to its customer base. As well as helping to alleviate the issues surrounding the Building Regulations amendments the long-standing business offers a completely personal service, a new interactive website, full in-house marketing support and advice, and upcoming bespoke branded brochures. Thanks to its 25 years of industry knowledge and experience Window Warehouse has the expertise to rise above the upcoming obstacles facing the double glazing industry and safeguard its clients through constant liaison, support and guidance.

New Window Warehouse Website

Posted in Double Glazing, Trade Manufacturing, Windows, Windows Doors & Conservatories with tags , , on June 7, 2010 by dgframeology

The new Window Warehouse website has gone live from today and shows our constant efforts to keep moving forward and progressing with trade industry as a whole.

The website incorporates a number of benefits to our clients, as well as information for the public to access with regards to all PVC-U products and referencing energy saving as an important agenda.

As well as a cleaner and more navigable site, it contains high resolution images, a unique video profiling the company, and a Useful Links page connecting our company to our suppliers and acquaintances.

For our customers and prospective customers we have a exclusive log-in system that allows access to extra privileges including Downloadable brochures and technical information.

For more information and for a good source of insight and information please visit the website: www.window-warehouse.co.uk.

Window Warehouse aims to be a pioneer within the Double Glazing trade industry and its endeavours in raising its online profile is a significant step into modernising the trade.

The BFRC Monopoly

Posted in Double Glazing, Trade Manufacturing, Uncategorized, Windows Doors & Conservatories with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by dgframeology

As a good follow-up from my earlier post on Energy Ratings, a recent article from Windows Active magazine from Thermoseal raises concerns about the monopoly that has been created by the BFRC in relation to Window Energy Ratings.

The issues highlighted by Mark Hickox, Sales Director at Thermoseal, are important factors against the compliance to the Window Energy Rating Scheme instigated by the BFRC. The Glass and Glazing Federation, the umbrella company behind the British Fenestration Rating Council, gave a full page response to this article, skirting around the matters andrelying on the overriding governmental factors.

The problems with the scheme outlined by Thermoseal are summarised as follows:

1) From the Dept for Communities & Local Government, the proposed amendments to Part L compliance to the Building Regs, in June 2009, it will be necessary to ensure that windows are fitted have a minimum WER of B & C. Meaning that the WER Scheme is the sole performance standard by which to show such compliance.
2) The BFRC is the only organisation to administer the WER Scheme, becoming the monopoly service provider and creating a lucrative business through such initiatives, due to broad charges for the services to achieve such levels of compliance.
3) The rating provided is for the entire window unit. There is no room for any component change, even if it is to improve the standard of the finished product, the process must be repeated and a new rating license must be attained. This means that the scheme actually prevents progress within the industry as improving standards of any window causes extra costs for further simulations.
4) The scheme favours window companies and fabricators, removing responsibility and allowance for companies such as glass and sealed unit manufacturers. It also creates impossible circumstances for IGU producers, as they become reliant on the fabricator who is, in turn, instructed by the BFRC on the specification of products required to achieve WER A-C.

These topics are clearly of key concern to the double glazing industry as a whole. The main problem is the reliance on the BFRC and the costs involved in constant testing and simulations.

Although most of the issues are relevant, the BFRC have recently launched the Authorised Retailer Scheme, enabling companies who source their IGU’s independently from their window fabricators to still achieve WER’s of A-C. Although the IGU’s used have to be identical to the IGU’s used by the window fabricator who holds the BFRC license. This basically defeats the object of trying to remove the favourability of window companies and fabricators as mentioned above.

Other responses from the GGF were solely to big up the WER Scheme, suggesting that the tremendous growth and development of higher performance energy rated windows during the BFRC’s involvement ‘would suggest that BFRC is not a disincentive to innovation’. Then again, as said in the subjects raised, it actually prevents such aforementioned innovation due to the rigidity of the licenses being held. The organisation has inevitably become an extremely lucrative establishment due to such regulations.

To justify the costs the GGF stated that they could be described as ‘modest’, stating that additional costs go to separate individuals and organisations and not to the BFRC. This sounds like another way of diverting blame and creating an innocent persona.

There is no doubt that the Scheme initially intended to be a positive step forward in accordance with sustainability and an environmentally aware society, but the rules and regulations instilled within it create a severe problem for the industry as a whole.

The GGF state that they are constantly pushing to make the Scheme more flexible. The issues, however, are already rife and causing enormous problems and pressures across the board. Things need to change soon, before the whole system implodes.

PVC-U or uPVC

Posted in Double Glazing, Trade Manufacturing, Windows Doors & Conservatories with tags , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by dgframeology

Several people not related to the double glazing industry have asked me why some of us refer to our products as PVC-U and others useuPVC. My answer was obviously along the ‘I’m not sure but I think both are acceptable’ line.

This may be a puzzling topic for many people within the industry, as well as those unaccustomed to the trials and tribulations of plastic namesakes. Especially for our US friends over the pond, who call the same material vinyl or vinyl siding.

uPVC is the original name for these products, which correlates with the full term: unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride. This seems to be the most logical format for all to use, but there is more!

According to Tangram Technology Ltd., consulting engineers for plastics products, uPVC was changed to PVC-U in 1990 to conform to the international naming conventions for polymers, so that polymer databases would function properly.

The standard international name of any plastic is now in tow parts. The basic material name is given first and any special properties are given after a hyphen, with all letters in capital form.

The new correct form for this material, therefore, is PVC-U and not uPVC. If conforming to the above changes, PVC is the base polymer and the U refers to the unplasticised version of the PVC.

It may seem extremely unimportant and irrelevant, and probably is, but if you trawl the internet and visit any double glazing PVC-U sites you will see any number of letter combinations. A simple clarification will do.

Composite Door Crisis

Posted in Double Glazing, Trade Manufacturing, Windows Doors & Conservatories with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by dgframeology

We have recently taken on a new composite door provider, New World Developments, using their Apeer and Diamond ranges that offer a wide number of options that are completely compatible with the WHS Halo Rustique profile system that we also use in our manufacturing.

This movement was due to the sheer quality and durability features that NWD offer to our clients, as well as comprehensive software for our processing team. Alternatives used at Window Warehouse include Door Stop and WHS Halo’s own range, yet there has been a never-ending problem with warping, bowing, fading, cracking of the doors in a very short period of time.

This can be seen as a microcosm of the DG Industry as a whole, with composite door developments not adhering to the standards of other window and door products and causing problems for homeowners across the board.

A noteworthy review from a disgruntled homeowner on netmums.com highlights this trend:

‘Loretta Y: “We have a dark green on the outside and white on the inside. We have beautiful cut diamond and blown glass with lead and it cost a bomb from Anglian Windows 9 years and 10 months ago.

The reason I know exactly is cos I’ve had constant service calls for nearly 10 years. If I said they’ve been here 70 times due to that door I wouldn’t be lying. They have replaced the frame x3 and the door x2(wind noises, rain coming in, wobbling in frame etc) a letterbox, new handles, and we`re on our 3rd lot of glass (lead peeling off all over) plus the door expands and contracts and makes massive repetitive loud bursting noises come 3pm.

Saying this there’s never been too much trouble with the service its just the product. Last week we had new glass ordered (3rd lot) and on looking at my `Gold Service Warranty` I questio
ned with the man if I had new glass in for October does it have 10 yrs warranty-apparently not! It ends Oct 30th 2009 so irrelevant if the glass has a problem after 2 wks of being new for example cos the 10 year limits up. The door could have been replaced 3 months earlier but we`re not satisfied possibly but hey you’ve guessed it the 10 years are up.

Maybe its just us it happens to. We had the whole house done 9 years and 10 months ago and they’ve all been fine, good product but just our bad luck I guess.” 30/08/09′

The issue for manufacturers and traders alike does not cease in dealing with customer complaints. When recently receiving an order, which was to be collected, the delivery box had been trampled on and the frame had been cracked. The complete door and frame had to be re-ordered and our customer was forced to wait.

With the introduction of NWD’s latest products it is clear that the industry is pushing hard for developments to improve. Consumers are willing to pay large sums of money for a quality woodgrain imitation composite that provide enhanced thermal and security performance in comparison to its timber counterpart. These doors are costing up to £800 and not proving their worth.

But if the composite door companies cannot get the basics right, such as delivering their products in a safe and reliable manner, then how can we expect much more?

Home Improvements Show Signs of Recovery

Posted in Double Glazing, Trade Manufacturing, Uncategorized, Windows Doors & Conservatories with tags , , , on April 22, 2010 by dgframeology

Despite the economic recession hitting our industry hard, as with all building and proerty bussinesses, it has not been utter doom and gloom. The latest edition of Vision (South East) magazine details some exciting prospects.

As the market and overall value of properties have seen a decrease of up to 20% more and more homeowners are seeking ways of securing value within their homes, rather than just improving them in order to sell on. According to a recent nationwide survey by Ratedpeople.com 61% of Britons are intending to invest in their properties in the next two years as a means of offestting the losses of the recession.

In the same survey, 68% of people believe that home improvements offered a more reliable method of adding value to a property than leaving the value open to market forces alone.

These surveys are backed up by D&G Consulting, an independent research team dedicated to the PVC window, door, conservatory, cellular foam roofline and rainwater products sectors, who offer market research reports, detailed forecasts and market trends. Their recent Spring Forecast Report shows that things look positive for the DG industry. It says that compared to Q4 2008, Q4 2009 improved by 17%, highlighting that the undustry is excelling out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

So now is the time for all businesses alike to promote and advance their marketing strategies and launch new campaigns. Surveys and research published proves that consumers nationwide continue to look for home improvements and that the industry has survived the worst.

Web-based marketing and increasing online presence is paramount as the public, now more than ever before, use the internet to find the best deals on the back of hard times.

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