Adrian Barraclough of window and door fabricator Quickslide, chats to PHPD about the importance of great windows and doors and how they can help to sell a property even before buyers leave their car!
Q What is your assessment of the current windows and door market in the new-build sector? Have you witnessed a growth in this sector as the volume of housebuilding across the UK continues to rise?
In total the market for windows and doors is expected to consistently demonstrate low levels of real growth over the next few years. Continued growth of new construction will act as a stimulus to the market while the replacement sector is already facing more challenging conditions, while overall spending on repair, maintenance and improvement remains strong.
One of the stronger prospects is that of bi-fold doors with the fashion towards open plan looking to include selective incorporation of decking and patio areas.
Q Is white still the main colour preference for new-build, or is the market beginning to embrace colour more fully?
White windows continue to be the preference for new-build. However, more than 40% of Quickslide’s output for the home improvement market is now for woodgrained and coloured frames, and this trend is continuing, offering strong consumer preference clues for housebuilders.
Our experience is that smaller developers are realising the kerb-appeal of windows and doors and are now even offering potential buyers options on their window and door choices, just in the same way that they offer kitchen, bathroom and bedroom choices. In addition to colours, even a choice of window styles are being made available, within the context of the broader architectural styles of a development, as well as choices for sliding or bi-folding doors.
Q As a supplier of both aluminium and PVCu windows – what do you see as the main benefits of each material?
PVCu has long been an established part of the replacement sector but has also gained a significant share in the high-volume part of the new build market. The preference for PVCu windows will continue as they offer performance advantages over aluminium and timber at a comparatively low price. And of course, homeowners still believe in the low maintenance advantages of PVCu. Furthermore, developments have further improved the aesthetics of PVCu windows, including the styling of the frames as well as the use of colours and woodgrain finishes.
During the past two years aluminium has seen an extraordinary resurgence in its popularity amongst home improvers. This has been spurred by the use of aluminium in many TV architect and home improvement programmes, especially for large glazed areas and sliding and bi-folding door installations. As home improvers have installed aluminium framed sliders and bi-folds in their homes they have become impressed by the clean lines and ‘feel’ of the material and have sought windows to match. Many of the aluminium frame producers have introduced window systems in response.
Aluminium also offers durability and low maintenance and structurally of course, aluminium is more rigid, therefore allowing slimmer frames and narrower sightlines in windows and glass doors.
Q What are the different glass options that are available for windows – can these help achieve, or even exceed, Part L requirements?
Windows have to comply with the Building Regulations. But the glass is what generally makes the difference in determining how thermally efficient a window or door is. In most cases even the ‘standard’ double glazed unit that comes in the majority of windows and doors means that the product is as good as or better than the requirements in Part L.
24mm double glazed argon gas filled units may produce insulation values of 1.1 W/m2K, against the Building Regulations Part L requirement of a whole element U-value of 2.0 W/m²k (although the ‘Model Design’ specified in Part L1a recommends a whole window U-value of 1.4 W/m²k). Most current window systems and IGU combinations can comfortably achieve this figure.
Triple glazing may of course improve this performance although at considerably greater cost, with additional issues of weight and bulk. However, triple glazing is especially useful when dealing with sound attenuation for example. Furthermore, glass coating technology can offer benefits other than thermal performance. ‘Self-cleaning’ glass is excellent for conservatory roofs and rooflights and combined with a glass that has solar control properties, will provide an excellent specification detail for upmarket properties.
Q With many housebuilders looking to deliver properties that help connect the indoor and outdoor areas, what kinds of doors are most appropriate?
For new properties the concept of creating clear, unhindered openings between the outdoor and indoor spaces is compelling and an excellent sales closer. However, as the market for bi-folds has matured sales of sliding doors have also increased as those with slimmer profiles offer the advantage of unencumbered views even when closed which, in the UK climate, will be most of the time. Traditional French doors may of course be more appropriate dependent upon the architectural style of the property.
Q When specifying bi-fold doors are there any particular technical aspects housebuilders need to consider?
The choice of bi-folding doors is almost endless and prices have toppled. However, don’t go cheap or you may pay the price with constant call-backs. Aluminium is best as the sections are inherently rigid and won’t bow or warp and as always make sure you buy from a reputable fabricator who will ensure you’ve measured right and include all of the best options.
Generally, however, any competent installer can fit bi-folds, but some fundamental training is essential. The fabricator of the doors will usually be able to provide this, especially when multiple sets of bi-folds are being installed in a development. The rule however is: don’t stint! On the doors themselves and certainly not the installation.
In summary, consider windows and doors as the ‘face’ of a property. Most developers will install great kitchens and bathrooms. But installing great windows and doors will sell a property at the kerb.
Adrian Barraclough is Chairman of window and door fabricator Quickslide.