Jonathan Seeley, National Sales Manager at Jeld-Wen, explains why housebuilders should be talking about timber.
It’s true, looks aren’t everything, however housebuilders know that first impressions count when you’re trying to appeal to prospective buyers. Specifying timber windows, doors and stairs could be just the ticket if you’re looking to meet both the functional and fashionable demands of your clients as well as stand out from the crowd.
Timber is an incredibly versatile material and products sourced from premium manufacturers will meet the strict specification criteria, carbon targets and regulatory demands of most developments – from listed buildings and conservation areas, to communal living spaces and new build properties.
Joinery products made from responsibly sourced timber are an eco-friendly option and a good choice for new properties, particularly as homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint. Completely renewable timber has a positive embodied CO2 impact over its life cycle, compared to PVC-U. Using timber frame materials in average conditions instead of PVC-U, saves around 160kg of CO2 over a 60 year period. In a typical house with 10 windows this equals 1.5 tonnes.
Historically timber received a bad press for being weaker than alternative materials, but engineering techniques have drastically improved the stability of timber; by removing knots in the wood and engineering the timber to run the grain in different directions it’s now more reliable and can be used across a wider range of building components.
The benefits of choosing timber windows are kerb appeal for prospective buyers and use in conservation areas where planning requires you to consider the local architecture. Timber windows have long been an aspirational product for homeowners and housebuilders who are willing to choose slightly higher specification products are likely to reap dividends for their investments.
Maintenance is also simple, timber windows are easy to repair and with modern technology and engineering, incredibly hardwearing and functional – matching and often exceeding the thermal, security and acoustic performance of alternative materials. Opting for factory finished and factory glazed windows may have a slightly higher capital cost than plastic, but boast a better whole life cost, a benefit that will boost your reputation among buyers as a quality housebuilder.
Fully finished windows are also available in a wide range of colour options, including new dual colour finishes, giving a unique look to a property and helping your project standout from competitors. Leading timber window manufacturers have also started producing windows with BRFC A+ energy ratings, as well as offering designs that cover a range of U values – ideal for sites with varying performance requirements that also stipulate the need for a uniform appearance.
Doorsets are often a forgotten feature when specifying building materials, but the look and quality of this functional finishing touch can make a huge difference to the end result of a project. Available in a wide range of styles and glazing options, internal doorsets are also available fire rated.
Supplied as a pre-hung kit with architraves, ironmongery, door linings and door stops, a timber doorset is a smart solution to save time and reduce cost. Your manufacturer should be able to provide doorsets that meet Part M, B, E & L Building Regulation requirements as well as external doorsets that meet the standards of PAS 24 for Secured by Design compliance.
Timber stairs can also act as a key differentiator to a project by offering improved aesthetics over other homes on the market.
As well as having a large range of designs to choose from, top timber manufacturers are developing innovations which make installations as quick and easy as possible. For example, the latest technology means that some timber staircase manufacturers can now supply factory pre-cut, pre-notched and pre-drilled staircase components that are ready to install immediately, minimising the labour required and speeding up installation time on site.
Decoration is often one of the most time-consuming parts of installing stairs, and when working to a tight schedule and budget there’s no time to waste. Housebuilders now have the option to choose staircases that are supplied pre-finished, with a factory finished three coat primer, meaning only a quick top coat is required on site.
Timber not only looks good but also has great environmental credentials; choosing CE marked full chain of custody products from high quality manufacturers is great for CSR and ensures longer guarantees for home buyers, and ultimately a good reputation for the housebuilder. It should also command a higher price and help to differentiate your housing against the competition.
Jonathan Seeley is National Sales Manager at JELD-WEN. For more information visit www.jeld-wen.co.uk