With fenestration having such an influence on both the aesthetic of a property and its thermal efficiency PHPD speaks to Chris Reeks from Mercury Glazing to find out what housebuilders need to consider when specifying windows and doors.
Q: Windows are a vital design feature for any new home. What are the key design issues housebuilders should consider?
When designing the fenestration for a new home housebuilders need to take into account the appearance, suitability and ease of operation of the product. Whilst the window needs to complement the exterior of the home and the area in general, the design itself needs to be practical in terms of manufacturing specification. We work closely with developers to advise them where designs are outside specification and to come up with suitable alternatives that won’t detract from the original appearance too much.
The window itself needs to be suitable for the intended application and meet any necessary regulations; for example fire escape regulations need to be taken into account for upstairs rooms, and again we are on hand to advise of any potential clashes in design against regulation. Furthermore, the window needs to be easy to use and maintain, and we can meet any special needs such as the low level handle criteria as one of the requirements for lifetime homes’ installations.
Q: How do you ensure your windows and doors meet the latest thermal requirements?
As a long established manufacturer of PVC and Aluminium systems we work with some of the major names in the fenestration business, such as Spectus and Smart. Our suppliers are constantly investing in their manufacturing processes and operations to enable us to produce fenestration products that continue to meet the demands of the construction industry. As an example, we have recently changed our Aluminium profiles to a range that incorporates a wider thermal break, which leads to a better all-round thermal performance of the Aluminium window itself. And in terms of the PVC, the introduction of a thermal reinforcing insert rather than steel reinforcing allows us to achieve a better U value for the product overall.
Q: What are the benefits of using aluminium for windows and doors?
Aluminium windows and doors have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity of late, with homeowners becoming more discerning, planners favouring aluminium as a more widely accepted product and advances in manufacturing producing more thermally efficient profiles as I mentioned earlier. Aluminium profile designs have also adapted to the domestic market and are now much more aesthetically pleasing than profiles used in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. The products themselves are extremely durable and hard wearing, and can complement any location or design type with the flexibility in colours that can be provided.
Colours can be one sided or dual sided to give the homeowner a wider choice for their interior décor, which gives them more of a benefit when purchasing. The slimmer sightlines of the Smart aluminium profiles allow for greater glazing areas letting more light into the properties, thereby improving the outlook for the homeowner and more importantly proving a more energy efficient product.
The sector will continue to grow fuelled by demand, with the government pledging to build 200,000 new starter homes for example as well as mortgage lending expected to hit around £220 billion in 2016. As a company we work closely with the housebuilders providing an efficient support service from start to finish, allowing the housebuilders to concentrate on the demands on them for housebuilding.
Our experienced estimating teams work with the designers to minimise delay prior to manufacturing, and this is backed up by our dedicated installation teams working hand in hand with the relevant site managers to ensure installations run smoothly thereby allowing handovers to be managed to the appropriate time schedules.
Q: Mercury has recently invested over £250,000 in machinery. What benefits will results for customers?
It is important for us as a company to be continually investing in our future, to ensure the longevity of the company and the products and stability for the workforce too. The investment we have made has been across a number of machines, bring more modern manufacturing methods into the factory and ensuring that the quality of the product is always the best we can achieve for the customer.
The new saw centre for example cuts in a number of directions due to the complexity of the product, and ensuring the accuracy and reliability of this is key to our overall quality management programme. Coupled with this is the investment in our vehicle fleet to improve our transportation division for site deliveries and also for the installation teams; the resulting impact is an enhancement of the service and quality that the customer and ultimately the homeowner receive.
Q: Bi-fold doors are increasingly popular in new homes, what are the benefits of these over more traditional options?
With more demands being made on space in today’s homes fitting a Bifold door can increase the homeowners feeling of living area, opening up the outdoors allowing the maximum use of space and light. The versatility of the Smart Visofold Bifold that Mercury manufacture lends further appeal to the homeowner; for example, the sliding sashes have the option of folding back internally or externally depending on the limitations within the room.
Added to this versatility is the opening combinations for the doors themselves, in the doors don’t all need to be fully opened. The centre sashes can open like a set of French doors, or an end door can open at one side like an entrance door. With its strength and durability, choosing aluminium as the base material for Bifold doors provides a structurally sound product that requires minimal maintenance and will deliver long lasting and reliable performance.