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Controversy over Trinity College eco-improvements
24 February 2013
Trinity College, Cambridge is considering new renovations to New Court, a venue that is almost 200 years old, to make it more energy efficient.
The law states that all rented properties, including thousands of properties that are in Grade II and I areas of Belgravia, Bath and on National Trust and Crown lands, will need to abide by minimum energy standards to avoid breaking the rules laid out in the 2011 Energy Act. Proposals regarding the New Court building would be the most radical attempted, reducing carbon emissions by as much as 88% and cutting its heating bill by tens of thousands of pounds annually.
Suggested improvements include wood fibre “Pavadentro” board wall insulation, rooftop solar panels and a new underground heating system. The plans also suggest replacing the building’s single-paned windows with double glazed “Histoglass”, ultra thin glazing that would be made to look old to match the Georgian glass it is replacing.
“If Grade I listed buildings can’t be lived in because they are too costly to heat, or are in breach of regulations, then what is their future?” argues Dr Rod Pullen, junior bursar of Trinity College.
Oliver Smith of 5th Studio, the company behind the Trinity proposals said “This is a really big issue waiting in the wings. There are lots of privately rented flats and homes in Grade I and Grade II* listed buildings that will need radical refurbishment. We can’t just stick our heads in the sand.”
Cold weather a boost to Birmingham glaziers
07 February 2013
While many have been complaining about the recent bouts of snow and cold weather, one sector to see a lot of benefit from the cold is the double glazing industry. In Birmingham the damage to double glazing caused by the cold as been causing home owners to hire double glazing repairs at rapid speeds.
Birmingham glazing company Glaze Rite have reported that they have had record-breaking volumes of work thanks to the snow and low temperatures.
The company argues that its approach to double glazing is different, fixing windows rather than replacing them whenever possible.
With forecasters predicting more snowfall to come over the weekend, and temperatures struggling to rise over 4 degrees Celsius, it looks like this trend could continue for the foreseeable future.
Today the Met Office issued a warning saying "There is a risk that a band of rain spreading from the southwest during Sunday will turn to sleet and snow. There is the potential for accumulations up to 10 cm in places and the public should be aware of possible disruption to travel."
Whether this cold weather continues to channel business into the double glazing and energy efficiency sectors remains to be seen.
Critics suggest Green Deal may cause consumers to spend more than they save
02 February 2013
The government’s new “Green Deal”, designed to encourage families to introduce more eco-friendly home improvements, has been criticised by those who argue that the cost benefits given through the deal will be cancelled out by the cost of the inspectors needed to come round and establish whether the work needs to be done.
There are 40 firms in the UK, such as B&Q and British Gas, who are approved to carry out “Green Deal” work. These firms can charge as much as £180 to inspect premises to see if they would benefit from energy-efficiency improvement work. If they get approval, those householders can them claim cash back from the Government to pay for green home improvements.
However, some companies will refund the cost of the inspection process. Other cash back offers include £100 cash back for loft insulation, or £250 for cavity wall insulation, or £320 for double-glazing. This refund is given once you have signed a contract for the improvements to be performed by one of the 24 authorised companies who can do the work.
A spokesperson for the uSwith price comparison website said, “Don’t be put off paying for the assessment – look upon it as a prescription of how to cure a sick home in need of help to make it more energy efficient. But it may well save you money if you use a company to do the work that is not signed up to the Green Deal.”
“Unfortunately, energy bills are likely to rise over the next few years. By acting now – whether you take the Green Deal or not – you will be saving on your energy bills in the long run.”
Anglian offers £5,000 of double glazing to lucky winners
01 February 2013
Anglian Home Improvements has teamed up with the popular women’s home, food and wellbeing site allaboutyou.com to award one homeowner £5,000 worth of double glazed windows.
The competition winner will be able to choose from wooden, aluminium and uPVC frames, tilt and turn and sash styles, and Anglian’s advanced energy-saving “EcoGain” windows. To get a chance to win the drawer entrants must enter their details at this address: http://www.allaboutyou.com/competitions/26154
Customers can also have an opportunity to win £100 worth of M&S Home vouchers by ‘Liking’ Anglian on Facebook.
Anglian Home Improvements was established in 1966, going on to become the UK’s largest double glazing window, door and conservatory specialist.
Disreputable double glazing sales practices spread to solar panel sales
17 January 2013
In the past the double glazing industry has come under fire for shady business practices. However, while industry bodies such as FENSA are working to regulate the industry, a review published by the Office of Fair Trading argues that similar hard-sell sales practices have spread into the energy efficiency sector.
The review criticised the home insulation, solar panels and double glazing industries’ use of high-pressure sales tactics and practices that may break some consumer protection laws. Following the review the OFT has contacted 50 companies in an effort to "raise compliance standards across the energy efficiency sector".
Among the issues they raise are the possibility that customers have been misled about their eligibility for a grant, or the amount of money they could save through home improvements. Likewise, the OFT disapproved of the practice of offering discounts that are only available if customers buy immediately.
"Energy efficiency products offer real benefits to consumers and the sector has significant potential for business growth," said Nisha Arora, director of the OFT. “However, it is important that people can be confident the companies they deal with are complying with the law, and that they are able to make informed purchases, without pressure sales techniques.”
CPA predicts tough year for construction
14 January 2013
The Construction Products Association, that represents 85%, by value, of the manufacturers and suppliers of construction products in the UK, have warned that output is set to decline by 2% over 2013, caused by an overall 5.7% drop in commercial activity.
The CPA’s forecast followed a 9% decline over last year. The organisation predicts only 122,000 new houses will start construction over the next year, less than half the number required to meet demand.
Similarly, retail construction is predicted to drop by 10%, education construction 9.8%, and health construction by 8.7%. However road construction is beginning to recover from its 45% drop last year, with the CPA predicting an 8% rise this year.
The pessimistic forecasts of the CPA are matched by Experian’s recent forecast, which predicted output would decline by 3.5% over the next 12 months, and recovery of only 0.8% in 2014.
The economics director of the CPA, Noble Francis, said of the forecast: “Public sector construction work continues to bear the brunt of the government’s austerity drive and has fallen by 15% over the last two years.
“Our Forecasts show that it is expected to continue to fall by a further 7% this year. Unfortunately, growth from the private sector, which government hoped would compensate for this decline in public sector activity, has not materialised and it too continues to contract.”
Double glazing, insulation and solar panel firms warned about high pressure sales tactics and shoddy workmanship
Green Deal scheme opens 2 weeks ahead of schedule
14 January 2013
The launch of the Green Deal scheme, expected to go ahead on the 28th of January, has been brought forward to today. The Department of Energy and Climate Change said the deal’s launch had been moved forward to bridge the gap left by the end of last year’s insulation programmes.
The Green Deal aims to let consumers avoid upfront payments for energy saving home improvements by paying for them out of money saved on energy bills, offering people up to £650 per an energy saving measure added to their home, with no cap on the total amount an individual can receive.
Energy minister Greg Barker said of the launch, “A whole new supply chain is going to grow up to service this much bigger market.”
Planning regulations will be relaxed for Green Deal
12 January 2013
Energy and Climate Minister Greg Barker has said that planning regulations for home developments will be relaxed in order to encourage customers to take up the new Green Deal. Barker described his department as being able to making the rules concerning external solid wall insulation more lenient.
The new changes will affect the technical guidance surrounding the “Permitted Development of Householders”. Among the changes being made, external solid wall insulation will no longer be considered an “enlargement” or “extension” of the house, instead it will be considered an “improvement”, which does not necessitate planning permission unless it is being added to a listed building orr conservation area.
"Planning will not present any problem for the vast majority of people intending to put solid wall insulation on their houses," Barker said.
The Energy Saving Trust has conducted research showing that there is a disparity between authorities in how the planning rules concerning solid wall insulation are interpreted. This has led to criticism that the rules add unnecessary costs.
By relaxing the rules, the government hopes it will be able to increase the take up of the Green Deal.
Associate director of ECD Architects, Mark Elton, described the changes as "excellent”. He added, “What we need is a change of mindset by authorities over protecting an aspect of an average building against the need to find energy savings – up until now it’s been weighted towards the former, so anything that swings it another way is good news."
Office of Fair Trade issues warning against hard selling firms
10 January 2013
The Office of Fair Trading has issued a warning to firms selling double glazing, insulation and solar panels, particularly those that use high pressure sales tactics and shoddy workmanship. The OFT ran an investigation into the energy efficiency market sector, during which it found a number of examples of poor practice, including companies that offered inaccurate or misleading information about how much money customers could save.
The OFT also brought attention to the tactics being used by some sales people, mentioning instances where salespeople stayed in customers’ homes for several hours at a time. Another malpractice included telling consumers that a service is only available at a discount if bought immediately.
The regulator has contacted 50 firms reminding them to ensure they treat customers fairly.
Tactics the OFT warns against include telling customers that special discounts are only available if a service is bought immediately.
The regulator has now written to 50 companies asking them to ensure all customers are treated fairly.
Nisha Arora, from the OFT, told reporters, “Energy efficiency products offer real benefits to consumers and the sector has significant potential for business growth. However, it is important that people can be confident the companies they deal with are complying with the law, and that they are able to make informed purchases, without pressure sales techniques.”
Double glazing firm boss found guilty of fraud
21 December 2012
Kulvinder Singh, director of Central Windows West Midland Ltd, has been ordered to pay over £6,000 after pleading guilty to six counts of fraud by false representation. He admitted to giving customers the impression the company was part of the Federation of Small Businesses through paperwork and headed notepaper, while also printing on his business cards that the company was registered with FENSA and the Glass and Glazing Federation, two regulators of the double glazing industry.
This was despite the fact that Central Windows was not affiliated with any of these bodies.
Victims of the conman included Harpal Kaur, a 62 year-old widow from Tipton who called the company for a quote after hearing them advertised on Raaj FM. She paid £3,500 for the work, but after only three or four weeks started to encounter problems with the windows.
The prosecutor during the trial explained that the widow called several times to complain about the work, and was repeatedly promised someone would come and fix it, but nobody ever came.
Mrs Kaur described the situation as “extremely stressful” and told the cout that she felt “conned” by the company.
Magistrates have ordered Mr Singh to pay £3,500 in compensation to Mrs Kaur, as well as £3,246.19 in costs and to complete 175 hours of unpaid work.
Anglian Home Improvements unveil winners of their #christmashome competition
20 December 2012
From 3rd - 17th December, Anglia Home Improvements invited its customers to take part in their Home For Christmas. Hundreds of people uploaded pictures of the results of their conservatory-based festive decorating efforts. There were three categories: Christmas Windows, judged by TV presenter Phillippa Forrester, Christmas Conservatories, judged by Julia Goodwin, editor of House Beautiful and Christmas Gardens, judged by gardener and TV personality David Domoney The three winners impressed the judges with their warmth, invention and commitment to portraying Christmas spirit.
This social media-based competition is not the first of its kind for Anglia Home Improvements who have been actively promoting via various online channels including Twitter, where they have over 1,000 followers, and an active Facebook page. In a multiplatform approach, entrants could upload their photograhs via Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ using the hashtag #christmashome.
The winners will each receive a Christmas hamper worth over £80, that will be bursting with food, drink and other festive items.
Uniglaze to go into administration
18 December 2012
Uniglaze, a Norfolk-based double glazing firm that has been trading for nearly 30 years is to close its New Costessey factory, leading to the loss of 225 jobs.
The firm, which once regularly reported a turnover of £21 million, had been struggling for a number of years, facing the economic slump that has hit the construction industry particularly hard. Despite this, the firm had reported a 35% rise in sales in Spring of this year and even took on an extra 17 workers to cope with demand. However, this brief upsurge was marred by the sudden financial insolvency of a major client, and, in the absence of additional funding or a viable restructuring plan, the directors of Uniglaze called in administrators, KPMG, earlier this week. Uniglaze has dealt with KPMG before when in April 2011, a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was drawn up to try and address the business's financial problems. A buyer is still being sought by the firm and although bids for both the business and company assets are being encouraged, Chris Pole, KPMG’s restructuring practice director and joint administrator admitted that the possibility of finding a viable buyer in time is “unlikely.”
60 workers are being retained temporarily in the Uniglaze factory to help wind down the business and complete existing orders.
Insight Data speaks out against double glazing copyright infringement
17 December 2012
Andrew Scott, the managing director of data firm Insight Data, has spoken out against an epidemic of Intellectual Property (IP) theft that persistently occurs within the double glazing industry. In a guest post on Double Glazing Blogger, Scott speaks about the unscrupulous practices that occur online, with certain, less ethical Double Glazing companies illegally downloading images, photography and text from rival companies' websites and then presenting that content as their own.
In a move that particularly concerns Scott, some companies are also appropriating information from the databases that his business and others like it have painstakingly researched and built up, a process which takes time and often thousands of pounds.
Fortunately, Scott and his colleagues have developed an anti-piracy methodology to expose and protect their business assets. Measures taken include embedding data with false information that can easily be traced and identified with a simple Google search. Insight Data is currently pursuing legal action against seven separate companies, all of whom were identified as having stolen copyrighted material from their website.
DCOS members win big at the G12 Awards
15 December 2012
The members of the Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsmen Scheme (DCOS) were celebrating at the G12 Awards held earlier this week at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London. It was an especially strong year with two DCOS members - P&P Glass and T&K Home Improvements - winning Conservatory Installer of the Year and Installer Of The Year respectively.
The G12 Awards, one of the highlights on glass and glazing industry's calendar, was hosted by comedian Patrick Kielty and was attended by almost 600 key industry players. The awards were also a fund-raising event and attendees raised £2,350 for GM Fundraising, an organisation that supports children's hospice charities.
The night also brought victories for Lister Trade Frames who were named Fabricator of the Year and also received the Derek Bonnard Award For Excellence, which is awarded to a business judged to have, in organiser Tony Higgins' words: “that extra special quality.”
The 25 Most Influential Double Glazing Users on Twitter Are Named
09 December 2012
In November 2012, Green Deal, an Energy Efficiency company based in South West Wales, commissioned a study to discover the 25 most important Double Glazing people to follow on Twitter. Since the results were announced last month, response has been so strong that Green Deal has decided to make the survey a monthly occurrence so that customers and industry insiders alike can track different accounts' progress when it comes to using Twitter to support and highlight the double glazing industry.
This month, the top user is @glazingguru who bills himself as Nick, “a bloke in respectable Double Glazing.” This December, Nick, who also runs a Twitter account @AlumTradeSupply, and a blog of the same name, was judged to have done the most to educate and engage with the home improvement market and also was the most effective at enhancing brand perception.
There were new entrants to the top ten too. Peter Doran, of Heritage Windows (@peterdoran01
) entered the chart at No. 5. Doran peppers his account with funny pictures, observations about the double glazing industry and friendly interaction with customers which, according to Green Deal, is a winning combination when it comes to building business influence using Social Media. The company hopes the monthly survey will be a useful tool that improves the digital social marketing of the entire industry.
Scottish glazing firm folds
22 November 2012
Glasgow-based emergency glazing and boarding services firm A Borland & Co (Glaziers) Ltd, trading as Hurry Brothers, and its subsidiary Hurry Brothers Ltd, also known as Borglas, has collapsed, resulting in the loss of nearly 50 jobs.
WRI Associates have been appointed as liquidators for the firm, and all 48 staff have been made redundant.
The company was established in 1955 by founder Alex Borland, and at its peak in the late ‘90s it employed 120 people.
Ian Wright, of WRI Associates, said "Hurry Bros is a well-known and well-regarded name in the Glasgow area. Unfortunately, however, sustained trading difficulties have made it impossible for the company to continue its operations. We will now focus on realising the assets of the company in order to deliver maximum creditor returns."
Glazing industry still in trouble, claims Chessington business
21 November 2012
Tracey Martin, director of Pro-Fit Windows Systems Ltd in Chessington, says that the recession is still affecting the double glazing industry despite many suggestions that the market sector is seeing improvement.
Martin said: “We’ve got enough work to take us into January but we’re wondering what January will be like because, if there’s a recession update on the news, people will be holding on to their money more.”
While some commentators, such as salesman and blogger Jason Grafton-Holt argue that the worst of the recession is over, saying “At the end of last year, everyone was expecting this year to be a bloodbath in our industry because of the recession. Companies were going bust. Demand wasn’t there.”
Over the last few months Grafton-Holt says business as improved.
“The economy is doing a little better, and demands at the moment for windows are much higher than expected during a normally quiet period,” he said.
The housing market is still struggling and few people are moving, but Grafton-Holt claims that people are still looking to improve their own homes, with windows being a priority. Double glazing is known to see an increase in trade during the winter months, especially with people looking to save money on energy bills.
Grafton-Holt added: “The average household could save £260-467 on their average bill.”
Fabricator and Installer Trade Show offers glazing firms platform
13 November 2012
Leading figures from across the conservatories and double glazing industries joined the 270 people exhibiting at the Fabricator and Installer Trade (FIT) Show’s Exhibitor Briefing Day. The briefing day was held on the 13th of November at the Telford International Centre and was an opportunity to inform exhibitors about the progress made in organising next April’s event.
Several key speakers, including exhibition and industry expert Austen Hawkins, gave presentations informing exhibitors of the best practices they should observe to get the most out of the trade event.
The event will take place over three days and will feature stalls, product demonstrations, and talks for thousands of visitors.
Shropshire company's 10,000th contract marks 10 year anniversary
12 November 2012
Heritage Glass, a glazing company based in Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, has announced its 10,000th contract, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of contacts manager Paul Hotchkiss with the firm.
Hotchkiss is well thought of by the firm, with manager David Randall saying, “This is a very important milestone in the company’s history and the success of such contracts is largely down to the calibre of our staff, all of whom are vastly experienced and most of whom have been with the firm for a long time. Paul is a typical example and we acknowledge his effort and dedication in helping enable the company to thrive and expand in such a difficult trading environment.”
Hotchkiss joined the company at the age of 27, and has remained with them ever since.
Randall added, “Paul joined us when we acquired Thermaglide of Telford and since then has matured in his role to gain the respect of his colleagues and peers, and we are indebted to his contribution to what has been a special period for the company. Our company has always prided itself on our diverse workforce, I am 73 years old and brand manager Nick Heyhoe is 77 years old, so it is very pleasing to see Paul come through the ranks to provide succession in a family business.”
North Eastern glazing company gets BBC contract
31 October 2012
Glazing company Ask 4 Glass is celebrating being chosen for a contract by the BBC to work on their new costume drama, The Paradise. The show has been filmed in the North-East where it has also been working with local businesses.
Ask 4 Glass has a staff of seven people, who have been working on supplying all the windows, screens, glass counters and table tops at the Lambton Castle set for the programme. Describing how the deal came about company co-founder Chris Auld said, “It actually came about a bit by chance. Tony was leaving the industrial estate where we are based and noticed there was what looked like a new joinery firm in one of the units. We get a lot of business through joiners, so he popped in to introduce himself and it turned out that it was the joinery department for the BBC, who were working on The Paradise set. We had a word with the contract manager and put together some quotes for the work. We were successful with our initial bid, and this led to us getting the work in stages.”
Auld added, “We are only a very small company and we have managed to get a contract with the BBC – we are over the moon.”
Big Energy Saving Week aims to save consumers money
25 October 2012
The Citizens Advice bureau, in collaboration with the energy and double glazing industries, has kicked off its Big Energy Saving Week this week. The event, which was launched on the 22nd of October at Stratford’s Westfield Centre, aims to help out families struggling with rising fuel bills.
The event will involve a week-long focus on ways to cut down on energy bills, including tips for using less energy and home improvements that can bring bills down. By educating consumers the Citizens Advice Bureau hopes they will be able to find cheap deals on gas and electricity as well using finding ways to cut down on their energy use.
Baroness Verma, who was at the launch, said: "Rising fuel bills are a really big deal. Consumers really ought to know that help is available and there are lots of things they can access, but it's about getting the message out there and empowering consumers. We are working with industry, which is very aware that consumers are hurting. It's a very difficult time."
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, warned the rising fuel bills are a threat to many households: "Ofgem and the government have massive questions to answer. It really does need an overhaul of the market, and not just putting a lid on it. Government has a responsibility to look into competition in the energy market, to see how to get the structure right.
"We'd like some clarity from the government on what it is doing. What worried us is that the government's recent messages sound like a promise that everything will be okay and that this situation will be sorted out for people.
"That's counter to our message which is that people have to sort things out for themselves. I don't want people to relax. It's not going to be all right, winter is upon us and people need to take action now."
Uniglaze goes into administration
17 October 2012
Uniglaze, the Norfolk double glazing company, has gone into administration, forcing the closure of its factory and the loss of almost 300 jobs. Administration company KPMG was called in by Uniglaze after they ran into financial difficulties.
The closure of the New Costessey facility, near Norwich, will result in the loss of 137 jobs in addition to the 88 redundancies that had already been announced. The factory will temporarily retain 60 of its staff to fulfil any outstanding orders.
The 29 year-old company has been struggling for a number of years due to the impact the recession has had on the construction industry. The firm had reached a deal with its creditors and reported a 35% rise in orders between spring and August, but when a major customer went into insolvency Uniglaze was forced into administration. Chris Pole of KPMG said that the glazing firm would have needed “significant funding” to stay operational under administration.
Pole added: "From our early discussions with interested parties, it has quickly become apparent that the possibility of selling the business as a going concern is remote. We would still encourage anybody interested in acquiring the business or assets to contact the administrators as soon as possible."
Blackpool receives £8.5 million to upgrade council house windows
08 October 2012
Over £8.5 million of funding has been supplied for the purposes of upgrading council housing in Blackpool, which will go towards providing new bathrooms and double glazing. The funding marks the last phase of a £66 million Decent Homes upgrade that began in 2008. The cash will go towards news double glazing, kitchens and bathrooms in council housing throughout Blackpool.
The Government had threatened to cut £27 million from Blackpool’s Decent Homes funding, however lobbying from the council resulted in £20 million of the funding being reinstated in 2011.
The last £8.5 million in funding will be paid in two chunk, including a £4 million instalment next year and a £4.5 million instalment in 2014. The work will all be concluded in 2015.
Councillor Gillian Campbell, who is a cabinet member for housing, said of the funding, “Over the past five years 90 percent of council properties have been upgraded thanks to Decent Homes funding. New kitchens, bathrooms, central heating and double glazing have all helped to transform properties and improve the environment in which our tenants are living.”
Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North welcomed the funding as well, saying: “I am sure many tenants will be pleased to learn the programme to bring their homes into the 21st century is to continue and I hope modern features of energy efficient fittings and draft-proofing will lead to lower energy bills.”
Somerset glazing firm gains DGCOS accreditation
05 October 2012
Lancelot Windows, a double glazing firm based in Somerset, has been awarded the prestigious DGCOS accreditation. Lancelot was established in 2004 and is considered one of Somerset’s leading, window, double glazing, door and conservatory company.
Following a process of inspection and quality assurance, the company was this year accepted for a DGCOS certificate.
Lee Chambers, Managing Director of Lancelot Windows said: "This is a fantastic accreditation as the DGCOS (Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme) is a powerful organisation that offer unparalleled consumer protection. Each DGCOS accredited installer has been vetted to ensure they offer excellent customer service, value for money and quality workmanship. We want our customers to be confident that they are dealing with an accredited company. We know our customers value the quality and profile of our products."
The firm runs a showroom in Ashcott and attends the Wells Market every Wednesday, and is reporting an increased demand for their products and surfaces, resulting in the company increasing their opening hours to include Saturday from 10-4pm.
Pilot cities ready themselves for the Green Deal
24 September 2012
£12 million will be shared among seven cities throughout England who will be part of a huge pilot scheme to help test the Government’s new Green Deal before its nationwide launch. The Green Deal aims to help people pay for home improvements such as double glazing with a loan repaid through a levy on energy bills. The cities, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, will receive the money from the £200 million Green Deal launch incentives fund.
Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, said: "This announcement will help hundreds of families across the region cut their energy bills at a time when rising fuel prices are affecting everyone, while it will also help local businesses in a range of sectors including construction to develop their low carbon skills, ultimately giving them a stronger market position and helping safeguard local jobs.
"A wide range of public and private sector organisations across Greater Manchester are now committed to reducing carbon emissions, and this announcement is another important step towards achieving our goals."
Energy Secretary, Ed Davey added, "These cities have really ambitious plans to lower their emissions, reduce energy use and help people save money on their bills. I've been really impressed by their plans to start testing the Green Deal and transforming our homes and buildings.
"This funding will help them get up and running, and I look forward to seeing a number of properties across whole communities get the energy efficient improvements they need."
The seven pilot cities are expected to deliver around 2,500 retrofits to households and non-domestic properties as part of the pilot scheme. All cities involved have also proposed to generate match funding and provide direct support themselves.
New double glazing award announced for 2013
12 September 2012
A new double glazing award has been announced for 2012 by Aluminium Trade Supply. The aim of the award is to find “the most noteworthy, prominent and deserving businesses and individuals in our industry”.
The awards will cover the entire double glazing industry, and come from the Aluminium Trade Supply and Double Glazing Blogger sites as well as selected sponsors. Further information will be announced about the awards over the coming months. In a statement on the Aluminium Trade Supply website it was said the rewards would “reflect the diversity that is retail and commercial double glazing, architectural aluminium, glass, hardware, software, product innovations and individuals” in the double glazing industry.
The award will not be restricted to aluminium windows, instead covering aluminium, PVCu, steel, timber, glass, hardware, industry services and people. The award will include specific categories to cover certain areas of the industry.
The Aluminium Trade Supply website went on to say, “Our industry is diverse and varied with a huge amount of success and talent that largely goes unnoticed given the presence of just a few sectors. The Double Glazing Awards will bring to the forefront a true representation of our industry and those Companies and individuals that play a key part in it and deserve true recognition.”
GGF investigates member following BBC programme
10 September 2012
Following a BBC investigation by the television programme “Rip Off Brtain” the Glass and Glazing Federation has been contacted regarding the practices of one of its member companies concerning its policy on transferable warranties.
The producer of the TV program expressed concerns that the Glass and Glazing Federation member was refusing to offer transferable warranties on its windows, meaning that someone who bought a house with new windows and doors installed would not have any warranty on those products.
To refuse to provide transferable warranties is a breach of the GGF’s rules because of the disadvantages this gives to both house buyers and sellers. The GGF responded by contacting the member company that was under investigation, resulting in the company bringing back transferable warranties for new customers and making already issued non-transferrable warrantees into transferrable ones.
Transferrable warrantees are a key part of the GGF rules, which all members are expected to abide by.
Legal action threatened against woman who refused double glazing
08 September 2012
A woman in Stroud Green has bowed to legal pressure to let the authorities replace her windows with double glazed units. Homes for Harringey, the social housing arm of the local council, initially told Christine McNiff that she would have to have her windows replaced three years ago as part of a £120 million Decent Homes programme intended to improve council owned properties.
McNiff wanted to keep her Cittal windows, and refused the double glazing at the time, but a year ago Homes for Harringey approached her again insisting that the windows be replaced.
A spokesman said, “As part of this programme we replace windows when they have reached the end of their useful life, improving the energy efficiency and security of residents’ homes.
“We would like to encourage residents to provide our contractors access to their homes to allow us to complete these important improvement works.”
McNiff has so far been unsatisfied with her new windows, which she described as “shoddy”.
“What’s wrong with diversity?” she added. “A whole mish-mash of different windows? I am so angry.
“They would dare to knock out all these beautiful windows which were of very good quality materials. They have lasted 60 years, they would be good for another 60 years - if not another 160.”
GGF raises Green Deal oversight concerns with Government
08 September 2012
The Glass and Glazing Federation has received a reply to the letter it sent to the office of Energy Minister Greg Barker last month regarding the decision to appoint Gemserv in the role of Green Deal Oversight Body alongside REAL (Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd).
The GGF has contacted Barker to raise concerns over REAL’s attitude towards the replacement window industry due to several statements on the company’s website which the GGF believed were derogatory to the glazing industry.
GGF Group Chief Executive Nigel Rees said, “The misperception of GGF Members in the Replacement Window Industry as cowboys is something we have fought hard to address and will continue fighting because, they are unfounded, untrue and unfair. With Green Deal fast approaching and growing uncertainty of its impact, the last thing our industry needs are public attacks from organisations that are involved in promoting and administering Green Deal.”
Duty Minister Charles Hendry MP of the Department of Energy and Climate Change responded to the GGF that the Green Deal “operate in a fair and open way for consumers and businesses.”
Hendry went on to emphasise the requirements a Green Deal Oversight Body must meet and confirmed that any oversight bodies would be required to meet that criteria.
Nigel Rees said of the Government’s response, “We are pleased to get some assurances from DECC and that they have taken our points on board, however we will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure our industry is not subject to unwarranted negative bias”
GGF awaiting replacement chairman
07 September 2012
The Glass and Glazing Federation is waiting to hear who will replace the chairman of its Home Improvement Executive this month. The previous person to hold the position, Alan Burgess had been the director of the GGF since the beginning of 2008 but announced he was stepping down at the beginning of September. Burgess said that the decision was due to a number of commercial interests including the review site doubleglazingcompanies.com, Masterframe Windows Ltd and several online businesses.
Burgess said of his departure: “Representing the interests of all GGF members (often with opposing views), has been challenging yet immensely interesting and I hope most members feel the Federation has moved on considerably in the last 4 ½ years and is set firm to deliver results to serve them well, in the coming years.”
GGF Group Chief Executive Nigel Rees added “We are extremely grateful for all the time and effort that Alan has been able to give not just to the GGF but the whole GGF Group. He has helped to continue the momentum of advancing the needs and support of the window industry.
We are always mindful of the time and commitment that Members give to the Federation, especially office holders, which is invaluable to allow us to fully represent the Industry, but understand that this commitment has to be balanced with the needs of their companies.”
In Burgess’ resignation letter he wished the GGF every success with future challenges such as the Green Deal, Building Regulations 2013 and CE marking.
His replacement was to be decided during a meeting in August, but as of yet no replacement has been announced.
Critics say changes to planning laws could undermine energy efficiency
06 September 2012
The government has relaxed regulations concerning planning permission for housing work, causing some to worry that the laws will promote less energy efficient extensions. The laws, designed to ease regulation to allow more housing to be built, have met criticism from organisations such as the Local Government Association, who claim that it is financing, not planning regulatios that are preventing new builds.
Chairman of the LGA, Sir Merrick Cockell said that the figures "conclusively prove that local authorities are overwhelmingly saying ‘yes' to new development and should finally lay to rest the myth that the lack of new homes being built is the fault of the planning system."
The new rules will allow new conservatories and loft extensions to be built without the need to wait for months for local planning departments to give permission. Homeowners will now be able to build extensions up to eight metres from the rear wall, as opposed to four metres, without the need for planning permission.
The new relaxation to regulations is coming in close to the introduction of the long-awaited Green Deal, which aims to promote energy efficiency in people’s homes. However, many worry that the new change in the law will undo a lot of the good that the Green Deal could have done.
James Croucher of DLP Consulting said: "The existence of the Green Deal meant ‘consequential improvements’ could be introduced without triggering direct up-front costs to homeowners. Overall, quite a clever package. Together the two had the potential to be a genuinely game-changing move to make energy efficiency happen. However, the current government's over reaction to the press reaction potentially leaves the Green Deal in tatters."
Conservatory built over gas flue
04 September 2012
A double glazing company in Kent has received a fine after a series of safety failures that led to a conservatory being built over a gas flue. The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the family firm, Superglazing, for breaching gas safety regulations.
Prosecutors told Dartford Magistrates’ Court that the double glazing firm build the conservatory over a pre-existing flue that came from a boilet at a property on Beavor Road, Allington, Maidstone. The construction blocked the escape route for gas and other combustible products that would normally have come from the flue. A pregnant woman and her child were living in the property.
An engineer visiting the house to give an estimate for relocating the flue brought the mistake to the attention of the authorities.
Superglazing admitted to breaching gas safety regulations between the 23rd of July and 2nd of October 2010, and was fined £14,000 and ordered to cover £2,826 in costs.
Family behind “dodgy” glazing firms done for fraud
04 September 2012
A family who exploited customers through a series of “dodgy” double glazing firms have been convicted of five charged under the Fraud Act. David Evans of Skewen, Wales, and his sons Julian and Andrew from Llanelli admitted to all charges.
The three of them were officers or directors of a number of double glazing companies working out of Neath Abbey under the name “E-Glaze”. Its subsidiaries included Eglaze UK Limited, Fascias Soffits & Guttering England Limited, Eglaze Limited and Fascias Soffits & Guttering Limited. Through these companies the family were able to earn £22,000 through overcharging customers, using aggressive salesmanship techniques and make use of trademarks and logos without permission.
Judge Paul Thomas said of the family: "People who are likely to fall prey to the sort of dodgy business practices which you three set up will be protected by the courts.”
While the judge accepted that Julian Evans did not play a central role he criticised Andrew Evans’ use of aggressive selling techniques and said of David Evans that: "You knew the procedures and the dodgy short cuts."
The court case was subject to lengthy delays as David Evans’ other son, Lyndon, and his wife who were both to appear as co-accused defendents, died during the proceedings.
David and Andrew Evans both received 51-week sentences suspended for two years. Julian Evans received a six month sentence suspended for one year. The family were also given a combined 450 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £5,000 each in compensation. All three are disqualified from being company directors for 10 years.
Window replacement scheme welcomed in Newcastle
03 September 2012
The Housing Executive has confirmed that work will begin replacing double glazing in housing executive properties in Newcastle this September. The move has been welcomed by Councillor Patrick Clarke of Alliance Newcastle.
The announcement was made during a full Council meeting on the 28th of August during the Down District Housing Plan and Local Housing Strategy 2012/2013 presentation.
Patrick Clarke said of the announcement, “There are quite a number of housing executive properties in Newcastle that still have single pane glazing so the new double glazing window replacement scheme will make a big difference.”
Clarke went on to say that the announcement couldn’t come at a better time: “With rising heating and fuel costs and winter fast approaching the housing executive properties in Newcastle and Dundrum that have qualified will have their windows replaced through the double glazing window replacement scheme.
“I am also glad that following representations regarding a number of constituents living in properties in Dundrum that these housing executive properties will also be included under the same double glazing window replacement scheme being rolled out across Newcastle during September.”
Leeds and Bradford seek growth through energy efficiency
30 August 2012
The cities of Leeds and Bradford are looking to the low carbon sector as a way to encourage growth in the local economy. The city councils of both places have been looking to the low carbon sector, including the increased popularity of measures such as district heating and double glazing.
A report has been published that examines the possible scope for low carbon growth across the entire domestic, industrial, commercial and transportation sectors of the Leeds City Region. The report estimates that there are investment opportunities for companies in the low carbon industry of a potential £4 billion.
The report also claimed that there are £1.1 billion investment opportunities for the low carbon industry in the domestic sector alone. In turn these investments could help save as much as £400 million a year through reduced energy consumption, biomass district heating, energy generated through wind turbines and more efficient lighting and double glazing.
The report also argued that these domestic measures, which could potentially pay for themselves through savings in under three years, could also create as much as 38% of all jobs in the region as a result of such investment.
Double glazing conman jailed
17 August 2012
After duping dozens of customers across the midlands out of an estimated £55,000 in under 15 months, double glazing conman Harkanwaljit Singh Khabra has been sent to jail for two years by the Crown Court in Leamington.
Prosecuting lawyer Brian Dean explained that Khabra’s con involved offering double glazing to customers at half the price offered by competing firms. He would take a 20% deposit, followed by a later demand for 60% more of the total price. Yet most of his customers received absolutely nothing for their money.
Dean explained: “Not one single customer got a fully completed job, and experts found that of the work that was done, it had been done so badly with such substandard goods that it all needed to be ripped out and replaced.”
Khan’s ripped off dozens of people including a woman recovering from surgery for breast cancer and a couple with a disabled daughter, who he conned out of £1,760 and £7,000 respectively.
Several angry customers reported Khan’s company to the Central England Trading Standards Scambuster Team, who eventually found over 50 victims of the scam in 14 areas of the country.
Khan’s defence lawyer said: “My client genuinely accepts what he did was wrong, if he could turn the clock back and find himself not in this predicament he would.”
Phil Page of the Scambuster Team commented: “We are pleased with the result of this case which has come about after a lengthy and complex investigation into a trader who caused chaos for his customers.
"This will send out a strong message to dishonest traders that this type of activity will not be tolerated and they will be brought to justice.”
Double glazing firm makes wax breakthrough
14 August 2012
A family-owned start-up based in Pudsey has developed a new kind of wax with help from the University of Leeds. Prestige Double Glazing claims to be the first company in the UK to offer the new wax, which it claims provides an extra level of protection for doors, windows and conservatories from both acid rain and UV rays.
The wax was developed by Paul Khaira, who is also the majority shareholder and sales manager for the Prestige Double Glazing.
“There’s no-one else in the market that has done this. I think it will be very popular,” he said.
The wax, dubbed UV Guard Wax, was tested by Colour Science Analytical at the University of Leeds. Referring to the microscopic views of glass that had been treated with the wax Khaira said: “You can see a big difference. It fills all the voids in the frame. It gives you a better gloss finish, the UV stabilisers in there give you better protection in the long run and the wax will protect it from acid rain too.
“It’s easier to clean too as you’re not getting the dust particles in the voids. Rainwater just falls straight off, it doesn’t stay there.”
Asked how he developed the idea for the wax Khaira said: “A friend who runs a glazing company was looking for a new product to go into the industry, they wanted to improve the product and give something unique to the customers. I decided we needed more protection on the PVCu frames.”
Khaira went on to say that the next stage for Prestige Double Glazing will be to employ four or five more people to help fabricate the new windows, as well as working with independent fitters. While currently operating purely in the retail market, the company is planning to enter the commercial sector soon.
“It’s a difficult trading time for everyone at the moment, especially in the construction industry, and that’s why we’ve developed something totally unique. That’s why we’ve developed another product, to be different from the rest of the people out there. Hopefully we’ll develop some new products as well which will move us forward,” Khaira said.
Coral Windows to continue sponsoring Bradford City for three more years
13 August 2012
The Valley Parade stadium in Bradford will continue to be known as the Coral Windows Stadium for another three years. Coral Windows, the Bradford based double glazing firm, have signed an extension to their sponsorship deal, which goes back to 2007.
David Baldwin, director of operations for Bradford City, commented: “From a partnership perspective, it’s good profile for them and fantastic support for the club, which we are very grateful about.
“It was a win-win relationship. We were keen for the deal to be done and in addition to that, they were happy to do it.”
Coral Windows has been closely connected with the football club through its youth development programme. They took over as sponsors of the stadium when Stuart McCall became manager. The newly signed deal will see their names over the stadium doors until at least the summer of 2015.
Baldwin said: “You can see that support from local companies is paramount. That’s what helps at League Two level. We’ve been really keen to work on our relationship with local business and the community over a long period of time. We’ve got a community day at the ground tomorrow and the club are constantly trying to find avenues to engage corporate companies and the local community.”
Window glazing inspired by spider webs to reduce bird collisions
10 August 2012
The Arnold Group in the US have drawn inspiration from arachnids for a new kind of window designed to prevent bird strikes. Birds colliding with windows has been said to be responsible for more than 100 million bird deaths.
However the Arnold Group’s new Ornilux glazing product looks to avert these deaths. The massive number of bird on window collisions is due to the bird’s inability to perceive transparent windows as obstacles. However, they can see in the ultraviolet, or UV spectrum.
In nature the Orb Weaver spider uses UV reflective strands of silk in its web to prevent birds flying into it. The Ornilux product aims to adapt this to a man-made environment, using glass in tin lines that are almost imperceptible to the human eye, but which reflect UV light in such as way as to make them visible for birds.
The new Ornilux glass will be available in two insulating glass types. The first has a low-emissivity or solar control coating for windows, the second is triple-laminated to allow for outdoor uses such as guard rails and glass walls.
Dave Wyatt, the head of the Arnold Group’s UK operations said: “The production of the patterned Ornilux mikado coating is much more complex than, for example, standard low-E coatings. Therefore, the mikado-coated pane is the most expensive part of the product.”
The first use of the product in the UK has been on the new visitor centre and lookout tower on Holy Island, Lindisfarne, an area notable for its 300 species of birds.
Euan Millar, who directs Icosis, the firm that designed the tower, said: “Considering the native bird populations on Holy Island, we were really keen to ensure that the buildings would be great for visitors but also have minimum impact on the natural environment. With so much glass in the tower, we were concerned with birds striking the glazing in particular.”
GGF Responds to ‘Cash-in-Hand’ Claim
08 August 2012
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has dismissed MP David Gauke’s recent claim that paying cash in hand for services is ‘morally wrong’.
Last month Gauke, a Treasury minister, told The Daily Telegraph that cash in hand transactions help tradespeople to evade VAT or income tax and force others to pay more.
“Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax,” he said. “I think it is morally wrong."
This has drawn a strong worded response from the GGF, which accused him of failing to understand the realities of running a small business,
“It's when we read statements like this we wonder how these people get elected, then we remember that our Political Class is not permitted to be democratically selected by the people they suggest they represent,” it said.
“To be slightly fair to Mr Gauke, we have all done it, said immediately what was on our mind and then started to regret it before the last word gets out. Then to try and pull it back a bit by justifying the statement as being a way of opening a debate.”
Presumably Mr Gauke's plumber has to buy materials all with 20% VAT attached. If the plumber attempted to keep the payments from customers out of his accounts, he wouldn't last long as it would be a self defeating cycle of diminishing returns. Then, as most people in business are realists, they know they don't really know who their customer is - are you 100% sure they don't work for the revenue?
“Mr Gauke's statement comes over as either a deflection of something else, chest beating (I need your votes) or that he is not too bright - then he does work for the Treasury,” it added.
Norfolk double glazing firm creates jobs to meet demand
01 August 2012
Uniglaze, the Norfolk double glazing firm, is hiring new staff to meet a huge increase in demand only 12 months after it was on the verge of going bankrupt. Since late spring the company is reporting a 35% leap in orders, driving the company to hire 18 new workers for its production line as well as a new senior maintenance engineer. More than that, the company has seen its order increase by 10% year on year.
Philip Davis, managing director of Uniglaze, said: “There is normally an increase in orders at this time of year, primarily because schools, colleges and universities do building work when the students are not there during the holiday period. But we have found that the increase in orders has been significantly bigger than expected and there are a number of additional reasons for that in our case. We have found old customers are returning to us and that we are also attracting new customers.”
The firm says it has been receiving work from all sectors of the market, with units being requested for the housing and commercial sectors as well as conservatory suppliers.
Davis went on to say that he believes the increase jump in orders is a sign of things to come.
“We are also confident that the increase in orders will be sustained to the end of November or beyond and that is why we have been able to take on the additional staff because the upturn looks like it will continue for us,” he explained.
Manufacturing and Construction Insolvencies Hit 9,000
31 July 2012
The latest figures from analysts PwC have shown that over 9,000 construction and manufacturing businesses have gone into insolvency since 2010.
In a report released on July 30, the company said that more than 5,000 construction companies have gone under the since the third quarter of 2010, with roughly 3,500 manufacturing also folding during the same period.
"These figures are disappointing for the industry, but not unexpected given the significant slow down in work, particularly in the public sector,” said Dominic Wilkinson, a director at PwC.”
“Not surprisingly it is generally impacting smaller private businesses who have less exposure to frameworks and generally shorter order books, although we have seen the demise of bigger names such as Rok plc,” he added.
"Pricing of work has become intensely competitive, people have been buying in work, in many respects the reduction in capacity across the sector is needed to bring some stability into the market place."
This follows similarly bleak growth figures earlier this month that showed that the UK is still mired in the worst double-dip recession in 50 years. While PwC’s study showed an 11% decrease in insolvencies across all sectors during this quarter from the previous one, it said that a long-term improvement is still some way ahead, with the same pressures continuing through to 2013.
GGF ‘Cautious’ on Green Deal
19 July 2012
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has outlined a number of key concerns over the government’s flagship Green Deal, which is due to be introduced this autumn.
The secondary legislation for the scheme and its Energy Company Obligation (ECO) were published on June 11. Having examined the papers along with political consultants GK Political, the GGF said in a statement on July 19, the organisation said that it had studied the documents, and was now in a position to provide its members with ‘an up to date analysis’.
Among the issues raised were the potential exclusion of SMEs from the programme, bureaucracy, VAT complications and a lack of certainty over investment.
As a result, the GGF said that it ‘remains cautious on whether Green Deal will work for the replacement glazing industry’. However, it added that it ‘will continue to work with government and other relevant organisations to try to ensure Green Deal works for GGF members regardless of size, status or profile’.
The GGF’s statement followed a joint letter by consumer magazine Which? and environmental groups WWF and Greenpeace, who said that programme will likely ‘fail on all fronts’ without urgent changes.
The letter, which was addressed to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, went on to say that the
Green Deal currently risks ‘not delivering for consumers, the economy or the environment’.
"The Impact Assessment for the Green Deal predicts a significant fall in uptake of loft and cavity wall insulation, and that job losses in this sector are likely,” it added.
“ This means that you propose forging ahead with a policy that could have a devastating impact, not only on consumers’ ability to cut their energy bills, but also on the home insulation industry, while seriously undermining attempts to cut carbon emissions.
“We therefore urge you to extend support for low-cost, high-impact measures – such as loft and cavity wall insulation – even further, particularly during the transitional period. Millions of homes still need loft and cavity wall insulation, which are among the most cost effective ways of cutting energy bills and delivering carbon savings.
FENSA to issue new CPS guidelines
18 July 2012
Following the recent publication by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) of its new requirements for the glazing industry Competent Person Scheme (CPS), industry body FENSA has said that it will be releasing a number of guidelines and instructions to help installers through the transition.
CPSs were introduced in 2002 and allow registered tradespeople to self-certify certain types of building work as compliant with the requirements of the Building Regulations.
In a statement, FENSA said that the changes to scheme would improve ‘consistency and transparency, enhancing quality assurance and improving the level of compliance’ with the regulations.
The assessment for CPS members will begin in autumn 2012. From October FENSA inspectors will be assisting and checking to ensure that registered businesses satisfy the new requirements.
“DCLG has issued all Competent Person Schemes with a document called ‘Conditions of Authorisation’ that outlines the new requirements that need to be met,” said FENSA general manager Chris Mayne.
“This sets out what all CPSs have to do to assess existing and newly registered glazing installation companies on their technical competency. This includes a revised on-site inspection regime.”
Glazing Customers Moving Towards Low-Interest “Soft Sell” Finance Solutions
08 July 2012
According to a recent statement by British windows firm Safestyle UK, there are been a market shift towards low interest or interest free finance.
Mick Wilkinson, Operations Manager of Safestyle, has said: “Customers no longer want high interest rate products. Current demand is for low interest, interest free or ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ finance.”
Safestyle itself has been moving to meet this demand working with finance company Consumer Credit Solutions.
“We didn’t have experience of these new products but Andy Wallace, Managing Partner of CCS, was key in helping us embrace the new style. CCS helped us address the demand and has provided support and training to our sales branches,” Wilkinson said.
Andy Wallace of CCS added “Safestyle is one of the largest most successful retail companies in the industry. Providing credit finance has been an important part of that success so we’re pleased to have contributed with our range of credit finance options, backed up by in-depth training and support.”
Safestyle has been offering its customers payment solutions from CCS since 2010, and the company claims these solutions are going to become an increasingly important part of the glazing market.
“We’re finding that even when customers have the money to pay for the job they will take up the credit finance option, and if it helps us sell we’re happy to provide it,” Wilkinson said.
GGF Becomes Latest Member of New Green Deal Group
04 July 2012
The Glass and Glazing Federation has joined the new SME Green Deal Roundtable alongside trade bodies such as the Federation of Master Builders and the Electrical Contractors Association.
The roundtable was put together by the Department of Energy and Climate Change for the purpose of looking at ways to deliver business models that will help small and medium enterprises become involved in the delivery of energy efficiency measures through the Green Deal.
The group met for the first time on Wednesday 20th of June at the DECC’s Whitehall offices. Nick Raynsford MP, Honorary President of the National Home Improvement Council, co-convened the meeting.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said of the launch of the roundtable: “The Green Deal will be a massive opportunity for businesses of all sizes and one of my personal priorities is to see smaller businesses - such as local builders, plumbers and roofers - get a big slice of the action too.”
Eventually the panel will give recommendations to ministers in the DECC on how they can best communicate the Green Deal to small businesses, and how SME-led business models can be delivers.
The panel will provide recommendations to DECC Ministers on how SME-led business models can be delivered. Their next meeting takes place this month.
A Third of Window Companies Making a Loss
03 July 2012
A report from Plimsoll has announced that as much as a third of UK firms in the door and window industries are running at a loss. After assessing 1,000 such companies Plimsoll reported that 328 of them are currently making a loss. A lot of these companies have found themselves making a loss for the first time, but 184 of the loss-making companies have been running at a loss for a while, some of them for as long as three years in a row.
“More and more companies are making a loss for the first time in their history,” said David Pattison, who has written a new market report into company performance. “Many can rightly claim to be victims of difficult trading conditions. A quick refocus on profitability would ensure this an isolated occurrence.”
Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures that show the nation’s GDP fell 0.4% over the last quarter, as opposed to 0.3% as initially estimated. ONS believes that we’ll see a further drop in GDP over the next quarter, partially because of the state of the construction industry, but also because of the extra bank holidays the UK has had due to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Glazing Prices Expected To Increase
01 July 2012
Glazing firms such as Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and others are rumoured to be preparing to raise prices or have raised their prices already. While prices for oil, petrol and diesel are currently down and there haven’t been any increases in operating costs, several large glass companies are expected to boost their prices in the near future, or have already done so.
The rumours follow a massive fine levied against several windows hardware manufacturers by the European Union after it was unearthed they were part of a price fixing arrangement.
On March 28th a statement was released by the European Commission’s Antitrust body confirming that 9 companies were to be fined 85,876,000 Euros for price fixing. While one such company, Roto, saw their fine reduced by 100% as it was believed the company would have been put at risk by the fine, the companies Gretsch-Unitas, Maco, Siegenia, Winkhaus, Hautau, Fuhr, Strenger each had to pay either a proportion or the entirety of sums up to 19,537,000 Euros.
A price increase from one company would normally create an opportunity for competing companies to undersell them, so price increases across large portions of a market sector that aren’t driven by an increase in the costs of raw materials or labour are unusual.
Graham Hinett to retire ss FENSA CEO
28 June 2012
After ten years as CEO of FENSA, the double glazing regulators, Graham Hinett has announced his imminent retirement. He will be replaced by Chris Mayne, Graham’s General Manager. Mayne will be reporting to Nigel Rees at the GGF.
Mayne has worked for many years experience in the window industry with one of the larger glazing companies. Hinett said of his replacement that he was “very experienced in the technical requirements of glazing and is fully up to speed with FENSA, including its business and registration requirements.”
FENSA, which stands for the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme was set up by the Glass and Glazing Federation in response to Government encouragement to allow companies in the double glazing industry to self-regulate, offering a recognisable certificate to customers.
During his tenure at FENSA, Graham Hinett has seen the regulator become one of the biggest organisations in the double glazing industry, establishing one of the best recognised self-certification schemes for double glazing in the country.
In a letter to businesses registered with FENSA, Hinett said: “I know that times are very difficult and that we have seen the industry contract somewhat over recent years, particularly in the last two. I would like to thank you for all your support over the years that I have been Chief Executive and wish you well in the future with your endeavours in your business.”
Halo launches lowest U-value window
27 June 2012
Halo have announced the release of a new addition to their Halo System10 range, which they are claiming has achieved the best sound reduction and lowest U-values of any PVC-U window currently on the market.
The unit, known as “The Box” has U-value performance that ranges from 0.66 W/m2K in a double glazed window through 0.42/W/W/m2K for a triple glazed window all the way to 0.32/W/W/m2K for triple-glazed windows with krypton filled unites or foam filled sections – a new record in the industry.
The window is being marketed towards environmentally-minded buildings such as PassivHaus applications, projects that need to achieve level six or higher of the Code for Sustainable Homes, retrofitting schemes or carbon negative construction projects.
Halo has also been keen to point out that The Box is manufactured from regular Halo components, such as their normal gas-filled units and standard steel reinforcements. The company is offering the Box window for a range of open-in, open-out, combination or turn’n’tilt windows, with the full range of colours and wood grain finishes available.
Halo is a subsidiary of the Veka Group, one of the biggest names in PVC-U window extruders in the country with a customer base that includes the public sector, commercial and house building projects.
Over a fifth of MPs unfamiliar with Green Deal
22 June 2012
The results of a survey of MPs conducted on behalf of the Dods Green Deal Dialogue Group have shown, among other findings, that 21% of MPs are not familiar with the “Green Deal”, with only 49% saying they will promote uptake of the Green Deal in their constituencies and less than a third understanding the funding structure of the Green Deal.
Dods Green Dialogue Group, which includes GGF, Land Securities and VELUX, surveyed 100 MPs over January and February this year. The sample included 80 men and 20 women from all three of the major political parties.
The MPs cited rising energy bills and unemployment as the greatest concern of their constituents, and the majority of MPs in the sample believed that the Green Deal could both generate jobs and cut homeowner energy bills.
While 21% of those who answered the survey said they were unlikely to promote the scheme, while 20% said they were neither likely nor unlikely to promote it and 11% said they were unsure, 49% said they would promote the scheme to their constituents.
GGF Chief Executive, Nigel Rees said of the survey results: “The outcome of this poll must be very disconcerting for the Government. While the Green Deal continues to become more complex, the level of understanding will not improve. If Members of Parliament cannot understand the scheme, then how can we expect homeowners to understand it?”
Blair Neill Ltd enters administration
14 June 2012
It has been announced that County Down-based window manufacturer Blair Neill Ltd has entered administration. The company employed over 60 people at its facility on the Ballyharry industrial estate in Newtownards. The firm was established in 1996 and has been providing double glazed doors and windows for the last 16 years. They supplied their product to Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.
All 60 members of Blair Neill’s staff in the facility are likely to lose their jobs.
Their last filed accounts, which covered 2010, record an annual pre-tax profit of £63,000, with a shareholders fund of £467,000. The accounts contained a note that directors foresaw “significant challenges” and were putting in place measures to compensate.
The gates of the Ballyharry facility have been closed and it’s unclear what lies in the future for the double glazing manufacturers.
On 23 May 2012 Peter Michael Allen and John Charles Reid of financial services firm Deloitte LLP were appointed Joint Administrative Receivers of Blair Neill Limited. They will manage the property, business and affairs of the firm without taking on any personal liability.
Blair Neill has ceased trading, and Allen and Reid are looking to sell off the firm’s assets.
Double glazing scheme on hold
11 June 2012
Several double glazing schemes for properties across Newtownabbey have been put on hold for financial reasons. The Housing Executive’s Programme for Government in 2011 claimed that Ministers intended to install double glazing to all of the houses in the Executive by 2015.
But Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland suspected the project once concerns were raised over the cost of individual schemes.
Although a scheme in Baillyduff that has already begun work will go ahead as planned, six other projects have halted pending a reassessment of costs.
McCausland said that several of the already completed schemes had been “extremely and unnecessarily expensive”.
The suspension of the scheme has received support from Ulster Unionist councillor Ken Robinson who said “This project was implemented to improve fuel poverty levels and while it is sad to see the double glazing scheme suspended I can understand the Minister’s thinking. It is only right that in the current economic backdrop the government gets the best value for money.”
However Stewart Dickson of the MLA disagreed, saying that the double glazing is long overdue.
“I have received numerous requests for housing executive properties to receive double glazing due to the poor state of the windows and frames,” he said. “Many of these properties urgently need double glazing replacement windows, particularly with the rising cost of heating.”
The Housing Executive was unable to say when the schemes for the six remaining Newtownabbey projects would resume.
MP meets industry representatives over VAT issues
07 June 2012
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP met with a total of 14 organisations on Thursday the 17th of May to talk about how VAT is applied to approved alterations of Listed buildings.
The meeting was the result of a joint letter from these organisations, which included the Glass and Glazing Federation, addressed to Chancellor George Osborne on the 1st May 2012.
The 14 organisations argued that the government should cancel plans to end the zero rate VAT on approved alterations to listed buildings. They claimed that there weren’t enough opportunities for people to comment on this proposal during consultations, and that the change would ultimately have a negative effect on British heritage sites and the construction industry.
They also argued against suggestions that the VAT relief on listed buildings provided a tax break to the rich, pointing out that 50% of people who live in such buildings are in socio-economic groups C1, C2, D and E.
Gauke argued that there were “perverse incentives” in the current VAT system, leading some to attempt to make repairs look like alterations in order to be excempt from VAT.
“There is uncertainty as to what is a repair and what is an alteration; however where there are adaptations for disabled access there is zero rate of VAT available for such work,” he argued. “To raise revenue, particularly to fund the rise in personal tax thresholds, we looked at VAT anomalies, and alterations to listed buildings is one of them.”
Nigel Rees, GGF Executive said of the meeting, “It was good that the GGF and our campaign partners have given the Treasury food for thought. We will continue to support the campaign for alterations in listed buildings to be zero VAT rated”
Government ditches ‘conservatory tax’
04 June 2012
The so-called ‘conservatory tax’ that has been proposed to run alongside the government’s high profile Green Deal scheme has reportedly dropped following an intervention from David Cameron.
Originally, Liberal Democrat minister Andrew Stunell had put forward a plan that would see any homeowner intending to build a conservatory or extension be forced to improve the property’s energy efficiency by improving insulation, upgrading a boiler or adding better heating controls.
The value of these addition would be10% in addition to the cost of the main works, with the costs either met by the homeowner or through the Green Deal scheme.
The proposal is currently out for consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government. However, it has now emerged that this will be rejected due to concerns by the prime minister.
Speaking to the Guardian, one government source – who did not wish to be identified – said: "The idea that people are going to be forced to improve their energy efficiency or install a new boiler because they want to extend their garage or make their house better is not going to happen.
“It is not policy now. It is out for consultation, but the prime minister is opposed to it, and it will not become policy. It is not fair to ordinary people trying to improve their homes," he added.
Synseal makes K2 acquisition
01 June 2012
The spate of consolidation in the glazing sector has continued with the acquisition of K2 Conservatories by Synseal Extrusions for an undisclosed sum.
The deal was confirmed on May 1, shortly after the announcement of Ultraframe’s purchase of aluminium conservatory roof manufacturer Quantal. Under the terms of the agreement, Synseal has acquired all of K2’s brands and assets, which include Celsius Glass and its range of conservatory models.
“The trading brands of the Celsius Glass and K2 are well respected and successful,” said Synseal CEO David Leng. “Brand loyalty is something we are keen to maintain and we will continue to invest in them to secure future growth.
Leng went on to say that K2 co-founder Sally Fielding will remain with the business ‘to ensure a smooth transition’.
“K2 has been part of my life for many years and I am confident that Synseal will retain the K2 brand identity through its loyal network of customers,” she added. “I believe that our existing and new customers will enjoy tremendous benefits through the investment and support of Synseal.”
Construction key to economic recovery, says FMB
14 May 2012
Following the news that the UK has slipped back into recession, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has called for the government to introduce a number of reforms in the construction sector in order to encourage growth.
On April 26, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the country’s gross domestic product had fallen by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2012. Previous estimates had predicted an increase of 0.1%.
In response Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said that several measures – including VAT cuts for property repairs, increased bank lending for construction firms and incentives to drive private domestic retrofitting – would help create jobs and stimulate the economy.
“The government will find it very difficult to get sustained growth in the economy while the construction industry remains depressed,” he said.
“Construction is essential to the wellbeing of the wider economy because of the variety and quantity of job its creates from apprentice bricklayers to world leading architects. Every £1.00 spent on construction generates £2.84 in the wider economy which makes it the best investment the government can make to get Britain back on its feet.”
“It’s a sad fact that the building industry has been in recession for four years with little hope of any immediate recovery. Until we get builders building again the economy is not going to recover,” he added.
Britannia buys Launa Windows
09 May 2012
Devon’s Launa Windows has been acquired as a going concern by Bristol-based Britannia Windows following its move into administration late last month.
On April 26 Launahurst Ltd, which trades as Launa Windows, announced that 60 of its 70 direct and self-employed staff hade been made redundant with immediate effect due to the decision. The contracts of a further 12 subcontractors, who mainly carried out fitting work for the firm, were also terminated.
Despite a turnover of £5 million in 2011, the company cited the economic downturn and increasing costs as the reasons for its difficulties.
“Having experienced four previous recessions and endured numerous other boom then down-turn periods resiliently throughout the company’s lifespan, it is with sincere regret that we have now unexpectedly tripped at this late stage,"
said managing director Jonathan Hewitt at the time.
However, on May 3 it was confirmed that Britannia had agreed to purchase the whole business, including all buildings and machinery. It is unclear whether the company’s former employees will be rehired.
Launa Windows was founded in 1974 and is a market leader in uPVC windows, conservatories and doors in the South West of England.
Ultraframe seals Quantal deal
04 May 2012
Ultraframe has bought Newton Abbott-based firm Quantal in what it described as a bid to further secure its position as the UK’s number one conservatory roof manufacturer.
In a statement on May 1, Ultraframe managing director Iain Thomson said that the deal strengthens the company’s market position, and will allow both firms to benefit from increased economies of scale. No financial details were given.
Quantal is a leading supplier of aluminium conservatory roofs, and holds a number of patents for its products.
“Quantal is a strong player in the specialist roof end of the market and has real strength in its customer base with many loyal customers. Quantal customers will now be able to access the market-leading R&D capability of Ultraframe and we will be able to expand our portfolio of systems through new channels,” he added.
“These are exciting times and as a business we continue to lead the industry to deliver highly-innovative, quality systems to our customers – adding Quantal into the mix only strengthens our position.”
Thomson went on to say that it will be ‘business as usual’ for customers of the two companies in the near future, with no orders likely to be affected.
Welsh hoteliers face uPVC ban
26 April 2012
Hotel owners in Llandudno, Wales, have hit out at council plans to remove double glazed windows on the town’s promenade, which would see them foot the bill for any replacements.
In a statement, Conwy Council said the windows had ‘diluted the special character of historic areas and damaged listed buildings’, and was moving forward with a proposal to have them replaced.
The announcement has drawn sharp criticism from the town’s hoteliers, whose premises make up a significant portion of the promenade. David Williams, of the Llandudno Hospitality Association, said that several had voiced concerns over the costs involved and potential disruption to their businesses.
“What we do not support is the retrospective chasing of people, some of who changed their windows 20 years ago,” he said.
“To expect people to rip out double glazing windows and in some instances their doors is not feasible.”
“We’re concerned by the heavy handed approach of the council,” added Michael Thompson, a director at another local hotel.
“Retrospective planning is going to make them very unpopular with the business community.”
Venture capital firm snaps up Everest
05 April 2012
UK glazing giant Everest has been bought by turnaround specialist Better Capital in a £25 million deal.
“Everest Limited's audited revenues for the year to 31 October 2010 were £173 million. Since the date of the last audited accounts trading has been difficult,” Better said in a statement.
“The 2012 Fund has committed £25 million to finance the acquisition and to fund the working capital and restructuring requirements.”
Better, which was launched by venture capitalist John Moulton in 2010, has a strong track record in reviving ailing firms, having previously purchased stakes in companies such as the Reader’s Digest, housing group Connaught and boat maker Fairline.
In a seperate emailed statement, an Everest spokesman said that the company was ‘delighted’ by the acquisition.
“This transaction will mean that Everest will have a stable financial platform for growth, will be fully funded and debt free. Better Capital will work closely with the management team to help the company fulfil its potential,” he said.
“Better Capital has an excellent understanding of the business and of the home improvement sector in general and will be able to bring its experience and knowledge to help Everest reach greater success. It has a track record of making capital and operational investments in its businesses, in order to create strong foundations for growth.”
GGF slams ‘Consequential Improvements’ plans
02 April 2012
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has criticised the government’s proposal to force property owners to fit energy efficient measures during renovations, known as ‘Consequential Improvements’.
On April 3, the GGF said that it submitted a formal response to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on their consultation document for the scheme.
"This will be damaging to the replacement window industry and counter-productive for carbon saving,” said Giles Willson, the GGF’s deputy CEO and director for technical affairs
“The proposal is also illogical, because the act of installing replacement windows means that a substantial improvement in the carbon footprint of the dwelling is achieved, so we cannot see why this should compel additional actions and costs to be incurred."
The consultation was launched by Liberal Democrat communities minister Andrew Stunell in February, proposing that homeowners should be forced to fit energy efficient measures such as extra insulation when changing their boilers or fitting double glazing.
“There are about 10,000 window installation companies in the UK - the overwhelming majority of which are micro enterprises,” Wilson added.
“There is a high risk that many of these would be commercially damaged by the disincentive for homeowners to install replacement windows this proposal represents.”
Glass Systems Group unveils Climate investment
28 March 2012
Glass Systems Group (GSG) has announced a ‘significant expansion’ at two of its sites in Port Talbot, Wales.
GSG, the largest independent sealed unit manufacturer in the UK, said the work will be split across it Climate division, which produces conservatory roofs, and toughening arm Vizor Tempered Glass.
The work scope for the project includes the fitting of a fourth tempering furnace. So far, a third Lisec automatic arising line has been installed, as has another auto-cutting table with edge deletion. An extension to one of the existing factories has been necessary to accommodate this new investment.
“By the summer Climate will have reached an output of 3,000 units per week,” said production director Martin Rowe. “As we all well know, you cannot compare toughening large specialist roof glass with ordinary smaller window glass. We need the capacity in place to ensure all orders are met efficiently and economically. This new investment is welcome news to me, my staff, and most importantly our customers”
“2012 will see a total investment again exceeding £1million across our three sites,” added managing director Alan Atkinson.
“In order to remain at the forefront of our industry we cannot stand still. We are committed to a year on year investment program that means our 400 plus staff continues to work with the best available resources. This in turn ensures our customers continue to benefit from the unparalleled service and quality they have come to expect from the UK`s leading sealed unit manufacturer.”
SWC joins DGCOS
23 March 2012
The Double Glazing and Conservatory Scheme (DGCOS) has said that SWC Trade Frames Ltd has become its latest member.
In a statement, the DGCOS said that it was pleased to welcome the Scarborough-based firm to its scheme, which aims to provide extra protection for consumers buying double glazed products, as a strategic partner.
SWC Trade Frames is a large regional trade fabricator of PVCU windows, doors and conservatory roofs.
Commenting on the announcement Mark Catchpole, SWC’s sales director, said: “We believe in the brand values which are embodied in DGCOS and fully support what the organisation is trying to do. DGCOS is sending exactly the right messages to the consumer.
“The DGCOS offer is more detailed and comprehensive than other organisations and is very transparent. It can only serve to fill the consumer with confidence. Because of this we feel that joining DGCOS will help our installers win extra business as their customers will feel reassured.”
“We are delighted to welcome SWC Trade Frames as a Strategic Partner,” adds Tony Pickup, founder of DGCOS. “As a regional company which prides itself on the way it supports its installers and which works extremely ethically, SWC is the perfect partner. We are sure that the company and its installers will benefit from the partnership.”
UK manufacturing hits 10 month high
22 March 2012
The UK manufacturing sector has seen its strongest growth in 10 months, the latest Markit/Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) survey has said.
On April 3, the Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for manufacturing showed a rise to 52.1 last month from 51.5 in February. Any reading above 50 implies growth.
However, Market went on to warn that the increase was largely driven by firms clearing 'backlogs of work', along with record inventory building. In addition, input costs rose to a 7-month high on the back of consistently high oil and metal prices.
"UK manufacturing has made a brighter than expected start to 2012, with PMI data pointing to output growth of around 0.3% in the first quarter," said Rob Dobson, a senior economist with Markit.
"This is obviously nowhere near a strong pace, but it is at least sufficient to prevent the sector from remaining a drag on broader GDP growth.
In further positive news for the glazing industry, the Markit/CIPS PMI for construction output, published on the same day, reported that the nation's builders saw new orders rise at the fastest rate in four-and-a-half years during March.
The index reported a rise to 56.7 from 54.3 in February – the sharpest climb since September 2007 – raising hopes that the UK has dodged another recession.
Network VEKA celebrates 200,000th customer
15 March 2012
Glazing installation group Network VEKA recently reached a major milestone after a Dorset couple were found to be the firm’s 200,000th customer.
Neil Davis and Jeanette Tulett’s new windows arrived with a bottle of champagne from Heavers of Bridport, a VEKA founding member and the product’s manufacturer and installer.
Tulett said that she had chosen VEKA as a supplier due to its strong customer service record.
“We read about the trophies on the website but the company was also highly recommended by friends. It was the right choice; we were delighted with the work,” she said.
In a statement, VEKA explained that it can keep a close count of its installer’s customers due to the ten-year guarantee that every member is obliged to offer. In 2006 ¬– ten years after its formation – the group reached 100,000 customers for the guarantee, with the next 100,000 arriving in just under six years.
VEKA went on to attribute this to ‘a growing membership and a consistently strong Average Installation Value’.
The group celebrated another milestone recently when founder member Sash Windows in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire reached its 20th year of trading.
“We had been with VEKA from the start and when Network VEKA came along, we knew straight away it was for us and we haven’t looked back since,” said Sash co-founder Alan Cosgrove.
“We have always kept the highest standards but Network VEKA lets us prove those standards to the public. We use the logo on all our material and most of our customers recognise it and know what it stands for.”
First Green Deal providers announced
15 March 2012
The government published its initial list of suppliers for its Green Deal scheme on April 4 in what planning minister Greg Barker said was a ‘watershed moment’ in the project’s development.
Anglian Home Improvements, Carillion and B&Q were among the 22 firms named, along with energy firms British Gas, E.ON and Scottish and Southern Electric.
“The signing of this agreement between government and business pioneers represents a watershed moment in the development of the Green Deal,” Barker said.
“The commitment shown today highlights the opportunity organisations see in the Green Deal from community groups, SMEs to big business which only bodes well for the scheme’s future success,” he added.
“We will be working with these organisations to ensure they can fulfil the potential they have demonstrated today and become the first to offer Green Deals.”
The Green Deal will allow property owners to pay for energy efficiency development through savings in their energy bills over a 20-year period. The loan is attached to the property and remains with it even when the occupier changes.
The government hopes the scheme will heavily cut emissions from UK buildings; as well provide hundreds of thousands of new jobs – many of them in the ailing construction and home improvement industries.
Government releases new planning policy
09 March 2012
The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has been published by the government, which said it will encourage both energy efficiency and sustainable developments across the country.
On March 27, planning minister Greg Barker unveiled the reforms, which he said will ‘help build the homes the next generation needs’. Barker went on to describe the previous document as over 1,000 pages of ‘often impenetrable jargon’, which has now been stripped down to just 50 page.
Much focuses now on the promotion of sustainable developments, while plans to prioritise the development of brownfield over greenfield sites, protect the green belt, national parks and playing fields were also included.
The changes were broadly welcomed by housebuilders and housing providers, who said that the new rules could help streamline the development process.
These included CBI director general John Cridland, CBI Director-General, who said that ‘future generations will be thankful’ that the government ‘has held its nerve’ on the policy.
“Having a presumption in favour of sustainable development gets the balance right between supporting jobs and growth, and serving the interests of the environment and society,” he added.
“The new framework hands the responsibility back to local communities to decide where new homes, businesses and infrastructure to support them should be built. So the onus is on local authorities to work with people and businesses in their area to develop suitable plans as quickly as possible.”
“Let’s be clear, this is not an invitation to concrete over Britain, as some would have us believe. For too long, our planning regime acted as a drag on growth, and this framework lets people decide the future for themselves.”
GGF backs Green Deal revisions
07 March 2012
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has said that it is ‘pleased’ with recent changes to the government’s new Green Deal programme.
On March 27, planning minister Greg Barker announced that several obligations for providers had been removed from the scheme, which begins later this year. This included the cancellation of a warranty guarantee that would have been requires to run the length of the Green Deal contract.
“We have changed the warranties proposal, removing the requirement to hold warranties for the length of the plan,” he said. “Use of existing schemes where appropriate will mean that consumers will receive as much protection as is available.”
Commenting on the decision Nigel Rees, chief executive of the GGF,said, “We are pleased to see the Government change their initial position on warranties for Green Deal work. This change has come around following pressure from the GGF and its members and others in the construction industry.
“It effectively removes a large stumbling block and now means that the standard warranties of 10 years used in the glass and glazing industry will fit within the Green Deal requirement,” he added.
The Green Deal aims to encourage homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes by meeting the upfront costs of installing measures such as insulation and double glazing, with the money paid back from savings on fuel bills.
Crystal Direct Sees Sales Jump 21%
22 February 2012
Trade fabricator Crystal Direct saw its sales rise by 21% over the previous year compared with 2010. The company’s good fortune looks set to continue as its January sales came in at 26% more than their projected forecasts.
Brian Geraghty, Crystal Direct’s managing director, credited the company’s growth to its service, customer support and range of products, allowing it to succeed even when the business sector as a whole has suffered: “Year-on-year Crystal continues to do well and this is simply down to delivering what customers need to help them stand out in an increasingly competitive market. Of course we are not immune to market downturns, but those who help their customers stay ahead of the game and get their message across are the winners.”
Crystal Direct was established in 1990 and has built a name for itself fabricating PVC-U conservatories, windows and doors. The company’s main selling point has been its focus on supplying installers with products and support aimed at winning work in the more difficult markets. The company also has the claim to fame of being the first fabricator in the UK to offer all the colours in Synseal’s Artisan Colour Collection across its whole profile range.
Salesman Faces Prison Sentences After Duping Elderly Customers
14 February 2012
30 year-old double glazing salesman Nadeem Yasin is facing a prison sentence after being found guilty of multiple instances of fraud and consumer protection offences. Yasin’s offences included conning vulnerable people into buying double glazing by offering huge fake discounts. His victims included seven people from across the West Midlands who had been told by Yasin that they would receive hundreds of pounds off of his original quote because of government subsidies and charity funding that did not, in fact, exist.
The majority of Yasin’s victims lived on their own, and included one person suffering from leukaemia. In a bid to confirm the invented discounts he even went so far as to falsify company order forms.
Yasin was eventually arrested after the carer of one of his victims informed Coventry Trading Standards about his practices, triggering an investigation of Yasin and Summit Roofguard Ltd, the firm he was working for.
Speaking after the case, prosecutor Andrew Burton said of Yasin’s victims: “They were led to believe by the sales representative that the price they paid was a reduction. They paid the price they expected to pay but there was no subsidy, it was simply an inducement.”
Despite the charges against him Yasin continues to work at Summit Roofguard Ltd, who pleaded guilty to charges of violating the Consumer Protection Act. Kevin Preston, who represented Summit Roofguard in court, said: “Mr Yasin had been disciplined. The company values all its employees.”
Glazing firm’s breasts advert banned
08 February 2012
1st Choice Glazing, a glazing company based in Bathgate, has had a recent ad campaign banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after it was decided it objectified women. The advertising campaign featured a naked woman standing in a window, with two flowers blocking the view of her breasts.
The ASA said because the naked woman’s head out of shot consumers would understand that “they were being invited to view her naked torso and, in particular, her breasts” even though “the woman’s breasts were partly covered by the flowers and that the image was not presented in an overtly sexual way”. Its conclusion was that the image was “likely to be seen to be an objectification of the woman in the ads and therefore of women in general” and that it was “likely to cause serious offence”.
1st Choice Glazing’s director, Derrick Findlay objected to the ban saying: ““I think it’s absolutely ludicrous – it’s meant to be tongue in cheek and it’s certainly no worse than most of the adverts you see for places like Marks & Spencer, or David Beckham in his pants. It’s a huge blow to us.”
Findlay went on to say it could cost up to £20,000 to remove and replace all the marketing material, including 20ft by 10ft and 10ft by 10ft billboards, leaflets, voucher books and T-shirts.
2013’s Fit Show to Launch Showcase for Glazing Industry
06 February 2012
A three day exhibition has been announced at the Telform International Centre from the 16th to the 18th of April next year. The show aims to provide a showcase for fabricators and installers across the UK and has attracted some of the biggest names in the glass and glazing industry.
The convention will features a range of seminars and forums that will focus on a variety of issues facing the industry.
Matthew Glover, one of the organisers of the event, said: “The glazing industry is in my family’s blood. I make windows, doors and conservatories for a living. It became clear to me that there wasn’t a simple and convenient way for me to check out new suppliers, meet existing business contacts and promote my business to professionals.
Fellow organiser Paul Godwin added ““I have been involved with the glass and glazing industry for almost 20 years, a dozen of which were associated with the national event that was sadly cancelled after so many years. Its demise offered the opportunity to create something fresh and alive, a show that is created from scratch for the window, door and conservatory industry of the 21st Century.”
He continued: Our goal for The FIT Show is that every visitor will take information and knowledge away that they can put to work in their own businesses the very next day. We look forward to seeing you there in April 2013.”
Glass Systems Direct Continues to Grow
02 February 2012
Glass Systems Direct has seen 30% growth on its figures from the same period last year. The company, part of the Glass Systems Group and a younger cousin to Glass Systems Ltd, is currently putting out over 11,000 units every week while reporting strong sales figures for 2012. The firm’s growth sees the Glass Systems Group consolidate its position as the largest independent sealed unit manufacturer in the UK.
Glass Systems Direct was founded in 2007 and has built its business supplying customers the length of the M5 corridor, recently expanding its operations into the north of England. Although the firm’s product range is identical to its larger cousin, Glass Systems Ltd in Swansea, Glass Systems Direct has its own management and sales teams as well as a dedicated delivery fleet.
Director of Glass Systems Direct, Paul Irvine, said: “The glass and glazing market may be contracting and the economic conditions may be uncertain, yet GSD continues to buck the trend and outperform competitors. Growth from our existing customers and a surge of new accounts has contributed to the 30% volume increase, while continued investment in transport, machinery and product development continues to strengthen our position in the market.”
Alan Atkinson, the managing director of the Glass Systems Group added: “GSD has come a long way since its inception in 2007 and we are delighted with the businesses performance this year. GSD offers fabricators and installers premium quality products, service and support and these core values are the foundation of our continuing success.”
Green deal doomed to failure says climate change committee
21 January 2012
According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) the UK Government’s new Green Deal is likely to fail. The deal, which aims to allow families to pay for energy-saving improvements to their homes using the money saved on energy bills, was intended to help the coalition keep its promise to be the “greenest ever” government.
However the CCC says that the scheme will only be able to reach between two and three million homes, 14-21% of the government’s expectations.
The deal is scheduled to commence from October 2012, which allowed for improvements such as double glazing and cavity wall insulation to be paid for with payments that worked out as less than the savings homes would make from those improvements. However the deal will remove energy suppliers’ legal obligation to help customers improve energy efficiency in the home.
Chief Executive of the CCC, David Kennedy, said: “The proposal is to take away that obligation and say, ‘let’s leave it to the market’. We think there is a significant risk in leaving it to the market, as that has never worked anywhere in the world and is unlikely to happen in the UK. We are talking about the transformation of the entire building stock of this country”.
“There is going to be a complete collapse in the insulation market. We will see an 80% drop in cavity walls being filled,” said Andrew Warren of the Association for the Conservation of Energy.
Window energy-rating scheme launched for 2012
18 January 2012
At the beginning of the New Year, the BFRC has launched a new window energy-rating scheme designed especially for British manufacturers of insulated glass units. By covering multiple product combinations under a Simplified Energy Licence or SEL, the new scheme aims to give manufacturers added flexibility.
The idea is that the SEL will combine the benefits of the window energy-rating system’s simplicity and flexibility with the benefits of being audited and controlled by the BFRC. This means that a range of insulated glass units from a single manufacturer can be covered by the BFRC A to C rating system.
“This latest scheme in the family of BFRC licence products will extend usage of BFRC labelling to more and more window products,” said Graham Hinett, CEO of the BFRC. “It gives IGU manufacturers the flexibility and control they need but at the same time allows us to maintain quality control which is vital for consumer confidence.”
The manufacturers of insulated glass units will decide on the scope of their own licence. They will do this by building a matrix using a product’s window energy-rating banding and system frame type. By doing this, manufacturers will be able to couple the varying specifications of their products with any possible frame variations. However, the new system will not allow profile suits from different system houses to be mixed.
Network Veka chosen for Green Deal assessment
09 January 2012
Network Veka has been selected to be one of the 33 national organisations to be assessed under the Green Deal initiative. UKAS, the organisation that will be assessing all such bodies for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, announced Network Veka’s addition to the list.
The final details of the Green Deal, which is set to launch later in 2012, are still waiting to be finalised. The scheme is designed to allow families to improve the energy efficiency of their homes by negating the need for them to pay for improvements up front. Instead, families can take a loan out that will allow them to pay for the improvements with the savings they make on their energy bills. However any installers used to replace windows under the Green Deal will have to be accredited by the organisations on the UKAS list.
John Ogilvie, managing director of Network Veka, said: “The Green Deal is likely to have a major influence on the way people look at improving their home. Our acceptance as part of that initiative will make it quicker and easier for our installer members to take part themselves and apply for certification.
“They already enjoy facilities such as our ‘Assure’ self-certification scheme; the Green Deal accreditation will be one more way that Network Veka makes life a little easier for its members.”
GGF to receive new president
06 January 2012
Phil Brown will be stepping down as president of the Glass and Glazing Federation after serving for two years in the role. Brown took on the position in January 2010, but will now be replaced by Mark Warren of Lister Trade Frames.
Brown said of the changeover, “The appointment of a public affairs agency was a big and somewhat daunting step to take, but it has resulted in a greatly enhanced profile for the GGF and the industry within political circles. Prior to this appointment, many in Government had failed to appreciate the benefits, notably in terms of energy and CO2 savings, of energy efficient windows and doors. With Green Deal on the horizon the Federation is trying to overcome the uncertainties around Green Deal to ensure it creates opportunities for all of our members”
Brown will remain on the board for the GGF for another two years. Talking about his successor, Brown said that, “Having worked with Mark for a few years, I welcome his appointment as President. I have no doubt he is up to the challenges ahead both in the GGF and in the industry.”
Mark Warren commented that, “Phil has brought the Federation a long way in a relatively short period of time. He’s a hard act to follow but I aim to do my best to maintain and complete the good work Phil has started in the last two years.”
Everest could be sold for £100 million
03 January 2012
The prestigious double glazing company, Everest, is looking for a buyer. It is being predicted that the company could eventually be sold for anywhere between £50 million and £100 million.
Everest is one of the better known names in the double glazing industry. Founded in 1965, over the years the company has expanded its range from double glazing to also provide kitchens, security systems, roofline products such as cladding and guttering, and conservatories. Since its foundation the glazing firm has served over 2 million customers. Everest is also notable for being one of the founding members of the Glass and Glazing Federation.
Today Everest services the entirety of the UK, with over 900 employees, 700 installation staff and 900 sales consultants. It has manufacturing sites in both Treherbert in Wales and Sittingbourne in Kent, as well as headquarters in Hertfordshiree.
The company is currently owned by Brian Kennedy, a Cheshire businessman who also owns the Sale Sharks rugby club. Kennedy bought Everest from Caradon in 1999, but has now appointed the corporate finance firm Clearwater to find a new owner for the company.
Kennedy holds a 42% share in Home Improvement Group Holdings, the parent company that ultimately owns Everest.
Merry Christmas from the Double Glazing Forum!
18 December 2011
Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Double Glazing Forum. Eat lots of a turkey, wear some silly paper hats, and make sure you keep warm. We’ll see you all in 2012!
Network VEKA chosen for Government’s Green Deal list
16 December 2011
Double glazed windows and doors installation specialists Network Veka has been chosen as one of 33 organisations to be assessed under the new Green Deal scheme. UKAS, who will assess all bodies to take part in the scheme on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the lead up to the launch of the Green Deal initiative in 2012.
The final details of the Green Deal have not yet been released by the Government, but for any replacement windows to be included in the scheme their installers will have to be accredited by organisations who have been accredited by UKAS and the DECC.
Network VEKA managing director John Ogilvie said: “The Green Deal is likely to have a major influence on the way people look at improving their home Our acceptance as part of that initiative will make it quicker and easier for our installer members to take part themselves and apply for certification.
“They already enjoy facilities such as our ‘Assure’ self-certification scheme; the Green Deal accreditation will be one more way that Network VEKA makes life a little easier for its members.”
GGF invites member responses to Green Deal consultation
13 December 2011
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has welcomed the publication of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation Consultation, claiming it will clarify issues of vital importance to the double glazing industry.
The GGF has been lobbying the government on issues that will affect glass and glazing installers and manufacturers from the outset of the Green Deal, working alongside various stakeholders to promote its members interests.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is now seeking input from the industry on all aspects of the news schemes, which have been released with additional information such as impact assessments, draft secondary legislation and a draft code of practice. The government is expecting responses by the 18th of January.
The GGF is inviting its members to contribute to the federations formal response to the consultation.
GGF chief executive Nigel Rees said: “The GGF has been lobbying hard on a number of aspects of the Green Deal that are of importance to our members. It is important that we maintain momentum, and continue to highlight our concerns to DECC through a response to the consultation. The GGF calls on its members to help us produce a thorough and compelling response. The consultation documents span over 700 pages altogether, and with an eight week deadline for responses, it’s vital that we act quickly. I urge members to get in touch and work with us to ensure the best possible outcome.”
Double glazing becomes an essential as winter closes in
07 December 2011
As Christmas approaches and temperatures plummet, it becomes ever more crucial for families to install quality double glazing. As well as the tree, the turkey and the tinsel, decent double glazing is becoming a must have for families at Christmas.
Double Glazing Prices has seen sales consistently rising over the last few months as families dig in for the coldest part of the winter. As well as keeping the house warm, double glazing can also help to avoid condensation and bring down energy bills, leading to possible savings of hundreds of pounds.
Particularly popular are materials such as UPVC, which is water resistant while also providing great heat insulation and sound proofing, while also being relatively cost effective.
Double glazing specialists sell HQ in £3.25m deal
05 December 2011
Double glazing specialists Safestyle UK have sold their headquarters and manufacturing plant for £3.25 million.
Safetstyle’s headquarters consist of a five story office building in Bradford, which was sold alongside the local 3-5 Eldon Terrace. The firm’s manufacturing plant, meanwhile, boasted over 128,000 square feet over two industrial sites on Station Road and Valley Court in Barnsley.
The buildings were bought by a private property company through business restructuring specialist BTG Restructuring of the Begbies Traynor Group. Property agent GVA advised on the deal.
GVA surveyor Charles Fletcher said: “BTG Restructuring asked GVA to secure the most competitive deal possible which is what we’ve achieved.”
Conservation rules lead to £23,000 double glazing going to waste
01 December 2011
A move to install double glazing in pensioners’ homes has been brought to a halt due to conservation rules. The Coventry Charity, a group that runs 43 almhouses, bought £23,000 worth of new doubled glazed windows for the 17th century almhouses in Holloway Droitwich.
The windows were ‘matched’ to the style of the building, in order to be fitted to the pensioners’ homes before winter. Rather than being fitted to original 17th century building, the windows were intended for the extensions to the building built in 1934.
However, Wychavon District Council advised that to install the windows the charity would need listed building consent, because the extensions were attached to a building going back to 1688.
While no objections were raised by the parish council or the Droitwich Civil Society, on the advice of the conservation office the district council’s planning committee refused permission to install the windows, and they considered it would be “harmful to the special interest of the listed building”.
2011’s final quarter sees tentative improvement
16 November 2011
UK contractors in the construction industry, including builders and glazers, have seen the final quarter of 2011 improve according to the latest data from financial information services company, Markit. The firm’s seasonally adjusted Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMP) registered 53.9 in October, up from 50.1 in September and higher than it’s been in five months.
September saw the growth of the total construction industry accelerated, supported by new business. Buying activity continued to rise and firms have continued to recruit staff.
While new orders over September experienced a slight drop, they picked up again in October, displaying some of the most marked and robust growth since May, with strong company reputations and competitive quoting being cited as reasons for the boos in demand.
As has been the case for 46 of the last 47 months, the usage of sub-contractors has fallen.
One of Markit’s economists, and the author of the UK Construction PMI, Sarah Bingham, commented: “The outlook for the sector remains uncertain, with October seeing a further weakening in sentiment regarding business expectations; confidence was at its lowest level since December 2008. Furthermore, the increase in employment recorded was fractional, despite the rise in new business and activity. This suggests that constructors remain tentative about the longevity of the sector’s growth profile.”
Merseyside glazing company has strong year
14 November 2011
Double glazing firm Total Glass Holdings, based in Merseyside, has had what it’s directors report described as “a solid year for the group, in what has been a difficult year for the building industry”. While the company’s profits have seen a fall over the year to January, 2011, its sales have risen steadily to £12.1m from £11.9m the year before.
However the family owned company saw rising costs that brought the company’s operating profits down to £4m from £4.2m the previous year.
Total Glass Holdings’ director’s report stated that: “The company is in a strong position for 2011/12, and expects steady profits in what is once again predicted to be a difficult year for the economy.”
The company has improved its position by branching out into aluminium frames three years ago.
The director’s report said: “Our aluminium operation has seen growth throughout the year, and our investment in new plant and machinery has helped us secure a strong order book for the next financial year.”
The company’s stocks have risen by more than £350,000 to cross the £1 million threshold at the end of the year, while cash at the bank is up by £200,000 to over £800,000. The firm also held short-term bank loans and overdrafts of almost £1.2 million. The company’s managing director Paul Lerston died earlier this year.
Support group advises small business to prepare for winter
09 November 2011
The Forum for Private Business, a not-for-profit business support group, is encouraging small businesses to start planning now for the coming winter. The group says that smaller firms need to act now to avoid getting caught out by cold snaps such as the ones seen for the last two years.
Forecasters have predicted that the UK’s unseasonably mild conditions will take a turn for the worse towards the end of the November.
According to the Forum for Private Business, small and medium enterprises are especially vulnerable to freak weather conditions. It advises them to be prepared for such conditions by ensuring their insurance is up to date, their premises are winter-proofed with proper insulation and double glazing, and that there are contingency plans in place should staff be unable to get to work.
Over the last two years British businesses have been affected by harsh, Arctic weather conditions and long-range forecasts predict this year will be no different.
“Disruptive snowfall hampers deliveries, triggers heating and power failures, and can sometimes mean employees can’t get to work,” said Jane Bennett, head of campaigns for the Forum.
Severe frosts are predicted for the beginning of December, with there being a chance of snow in many areas during the Christmas period.
BBA launches door and window approval certificate
03 November 2011
The British Board of Agreement has announced a new approval scheme for door and window hardware products in an effort to make the approval process more robust.
The new hardware certificate will remain valid for three years after an equally long audit period. During the audit period there will be a series of annual checks. While the first and final years of the checking people will feature audit checks, the second year check will see the auditors visit the manufacturing site.
Companies that have been awarded the new hardware certificate will be able to display the BBA logo and corresponding certificate number in their publicity material and literature, while the certificate itself will be downloadable in PDF form from the BBA website.
The BBA has said that it will still offer assessment reports on window and door hardware for clients but that, since many of the test methods in those reports have now been surpassed by more modern testing methods, new and existing assessment reports will have a validity period of five years.
At the end of that five-year period the BBA will instigate a complete reassessment to ensure that the hardware is still being manufactured to the right standards.
211 jobs lost as Scottish glazing company collapses
01 November 2011
The Scottish glazing company AC Yule and Son has entered administration. While the firm has said that it will keep on 61 members of its staff to complete outstanding orders and current projects, another 211 members of staff have been made unemployed.
The company has appointed Gary Fraser and Blair Nimmo of KPMG as administrators, who will be looking for buyers to take on either the whole business, or buy out its component parts.
The business had its headquarters in Aberdeen, while also maintaining branches in Glasgow, Livingston and Elgin. Although the firm is well established, it has run into trouble as a consequence of the financial crisis.
“As a result of prolonged difficult economic conditions over the last three years, AC Yule & Sons Ltd sustained a reduction in its turnover together with considerable erosion in its margins,” explained Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and head of restructuring for KPMG in Scotland.
“The directors proactively implemented a number of restructurings - both financial and operational - which involved significant additional share capital being injected. Unfortunately, despite these actions, losses continued to ensue which led to the directors concluding that they had no option other than to seek the appointment of administrators.”
Green Deal Finance Company will make new Energy Bill possible
13 October 2011
At consortium of British companies including British Gas, Carillion, E.ON, EDF Energy, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Kingfisher, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets, npower, PwC, RBC Capital Markets and SSE are working together to create the not-for-profit organisation, The Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC).
The GDFC aims to provide the necessary finance for the coalition government’s Green Deal, which allows householders to pay for environmentally conscious home improvements using the savings they make on their energy bills.
The GDFC will provide finance to all companies providing work under the Green Deal to minimise administration and operating costs.
Paul Davies of PwC said, “By minimising the cost of finance to future accredited Green Deal providers, it will create a highly competitive market that will compete on cost, reliability, lifespan and technology. It will maximise the measures that can be included within the Green Deal and for many potential providers will solve the question of where their finance will come from.”
Liberal Democrat MP and Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, welcomed the scheme saying, “This is an exciting initiative with the potential to reduce interest rates on Green Deal finance, while also supporting healthy competition amongst Green Deal providers including small businesses.”
Balls calls for home improvement VAT cut
12 October 2011
As part of his five point plan to kick-start the economy shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said that he plans to cut VAT on home improvements. In a speech at the Labour party conference, Balls said that he would introduce a 5% reduction to VAT on home improvements for one year.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has welcomed the move, which it and several other organisations have been campaigning for.
Director general of the FMB, Richard Diment said: “A targeted cut in VAT for home improvement works makes good economic sense as the total stimulus effects of such a cut would be more than double any net loss to the Treasury as well as helping to create tens of thousands of new jobs.
“This policy makes sense on every level. It supports economic policy by creating jobs and generating growth; it supports environmental objectives by helping to bring derelict homes back into use thus taking pressure off the green belt land to provide new housing; and it tackles rogue traders and tax dodgers by reducing their competitive advantage over legitimate businesses.”
Balls’ promise comes a month after Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s call for the government to cut VAT on home improvements to provide a boost to the construction sector.
Greener homes boost to become law
05 October 2011
Parliament is set to write into law a series of new measures that would help to cut energy bills for millions of home-owners.
The Energy Bill aims to allow people to use the savings they make from environmentally-friendly home improvements to literally pay for themselves, with payments coming out of the savings they make on gas and electricity bills under the new Green Deal. The new law will cover eco-friendly improvements to the home such as loft insulation and double-glazing.
Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne, who is also Energy and Climate Change Secretary for the UK, said that the new scheme was "the first of its kind anywhere in the world". Huhne went on to say that he believed the new scheme would help people insure against rising energy prices in the future and help the poorest families escape fuel poverty by saving them money on their bills.
The Energy Bill has received support from across the political parties and was passed by the House of Lords in March. The peers accepted a series of amendments introduced in the House of Commons without votes.
The Energy Bill is now awaiting Royal Assent before it passes into law.
Housing market needs government boos, claims CBI
03 October 2011
At the North-East Annual Dinner for CBI, the UK's top business lobbying organisation, director-general John Cridland has called for boosting activity in the housing and construction sectors to open up opportunities for first time buyers and those looking to move up the property ladder.
“Owning a home has been a natural aspiration for generations of Britons since the 1950s,” Cridland said. “It has never been easy but after this recession, the high cost of property, strict lending rules and the need to save substantial deposits has put home ownership out of reach for all but the lucky few.
“As we have seen, without a steady stream of eager first-time buyers the housing market stagnates and our whole economy suffers.”
According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders 36,200 first time buyers bought homes in the first three months of this year, a drop of 7,400 since the same period last year. The average age for home buyers without parental assistance is 37 years old, according to the National Housing Federation, and is expected to rise.
“Now is the time to stop the stagnation and get the housing market flowing again,” Cridland said. “The CBI wants to see a revitalised Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee, to reduce the risk of higher loan to value mortgages. One way this could be done would be through a deal between mortgage providers and house builders. There could also be a role for government to step in with some very focused support to bridge the gap.”
Cridland went on to say that; “I want to see the Chancellor use his autumn statement on 29 November to jump-start the housing market.
“A determined attack on the major blockers of finance and planning could transform the outlook of a generation of young people and provide a huge fillip to consumer and business confidence.”
Energy saving measures recommended for property owners
01 October 2011
Sustain Worldwide, a group of sustainable developers, architects, landscape architects, and manufacturers, is encouraging property owners to add energy-saving measures to their buildings.
Measures such as insulation and double glazing could increase a property’s value according to Gordon Miller, Sustain Worldwide’s sustainability and communications director and co-founder.
"What's more, they will increase in value faster - or depreciate less than existing homes - because they are more future-proofed than a conventionally-built existing house that will require expensive retro-fitting," Miller said.
Sustain Worldwide’s director, Simon Douglas, added that landlords should also double check their landlord’s property insurance policy is up to date in preparation for the Christmas period.
Sustain Worldwide cites its mission as “To raise awareness, share vital knowledge and catalyse business growth in sustainable development, architecture, design and living.”
Energy saving measures such as insulation and double glazing probably won’t result in cheaper commercial insurance quotes, but they will result in cheaper heating bills that could free up valuable extra cash for property owners.
As the winter draws in, Sustain Worldwide isn’t the only company encouraging property owners to make sure their property is ready. The AA has recently advised that property owners should prepare for winter by ensuring their central heating and flood defences are in good condition in case of bad weather conditions.
6.6 million households could be in “fuel poverty”
08 September 2011
September could see 6.6 million British households in fuel poverty if the two remaining energy companies bring in a price increase. This prediction has been made by National Energy Action, an organization that develops and promotes energy efficiency services to tackle the heating and insulation problems of low-income households.
The forecast come in the wake of E.ON’s decision to increase its electricity prices by 11.4% and its gas prices by 18.1% from September 13th, making it the fourth of the six biggest utility providers to bring in a price increase.
Maria Wardrobe, director of external affairs for National Energy Action, said: "The UK's housing stock is very poor in terms of efficiency, with homes leaking heat.
"Insulating cavity walls and loft spaces, placing carpets down rather than wooden floors, adding draught excluders to doors and fitting double glazing will all help lower energy use, mitigating the price rises."
Some homeowners may be able to acquire grants for energy saving home improvements through initiatives such as the Warm Front scheme- a government grant available for wall cavity or loft insulation.
Consumer Protection Report reissued
07 September 2011
The Consumer Protection Report, which details the levels of protection offered to homeowners who buy windows, doors and conservatories, has been released in a second edition. The first edition, which was released in May, was researched and compiled by David Herman and commissioned by the Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS).
The new edition of the report includes the addition of two new organisations, Bondpay and BM TRADA, and some corrections to the original report. Among the organisations said to provide good protection in the report were the DGCOS, Network VEKA and the Bygone Installers Network.
“The aim of the report was to improve the standard of protection, and to address the many misconceptions held by the public and the media,” Herman said.
“On this point, an important aspect is a lack of transparency - why should consumers have to trawl through small print just to find out what their rights really are? One way we can improve protection is to ensure the schemes on offer are easy to understand” he added.
“An ideal consumer protection organisation will make it clear and transparent on its website and marketing literature what protection it provides consumers. Therefore I have added an 11th element to the ideal consumer protection organisation in this second edition.”
Midlands manufacturer acquired by RPL
05 September 2011
A deal has been made that will see Central CRC, a trade manufacturer based in West Bromwich sold for an undisclosed sum to RPL, another West Bromwich-based business.
Under the agreement, Central CRC, which was established in 1992 as Central Express Windows Ltd, will see its senior management transfer to similar roles in the new, combined business.
RPL’s chairman, John Allen, said of the deal, “The purchase will create great opportunities for both entities and makes the combined business one of the Midland’s largest PVCU trade manufacturers.”
Central CRC’s product line includes conservatories, energy rated windows, patio doors and window locking systems.
Gary Morton, chairman of Central CRC added: “The timing of the deal is perfect, both for the management and for the combined businesses. The scale it now has will provide the perfect base for continued growth and entry into other markets.
“We are delighted to have done this deal and feel that the new company is now geared to go from strength to strength.”
New ombudsman scheme launched by GGF
01 September 2011
A new ombudsman scheme has been launched for the glazing industry with the sponsorship of the Glass and Glazing Federation and Fensa. The new program, which will cover the installation of replacement windows and doors, conservatories and roofline products, will aim to provide a free, fair and independent service for resolving disputes between members of the Scheme and their customers.
Members of the new scheme will be expected to follow the Code of Practice set out by the Glazing Ombudsman, which includes providing customers with a clear Contract of Sale, Deposit and Work in Progress Insurance and a range of other service commitments. Customers not satisfied with their level of service will be able to complain to the Ombudsman which, if it rules in their favour, could grant them a reward of up to £25,000. While the award will be binding to the schemes members, customers will also have the option of refusing the reward and pursuing their claim through the courts.
Nigel Rees, GGF chief executive, said: “The Glass and Glazing Federation is fully supportive of The Glazing Ombudsman Scheme as it is completely fair and impartial. It doesn’t replace the Federation’s highly successful Conciliation Service but it is simply an alternative for both the trade and homeowners should a dispute go to arbitration.”
Green Deal provides opportunities to glazing industry
31 August 2011
The Coalition Government’s new Green Deal flagship policy stands to provide some great opportunities for the glazing industry, according to the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF).
The new scheme, a flagship policy aimed at improving energy efficiency in existing British buildings, is based on the fact that some energy efficiency measures can pay for themselves through savings on bills, allowing customers to avoid paying any upfront costs. The new deal will be of particular benefit to the glazing industry, as glazing is an effective and popular energy saving measure often made difficult by the high costs of bespoke work.
Under the Green Deal energy efficiency improvements to a property will be paid for with a personal loan not on the householder or building owner but on the property itself. The debt will be passed on to future owners of the property until payment is complete.
Nigel Rees, Chief Executive and National Secretary of the GGF said: “The GGF lobbied the Government to guarantee that windows would be included in the Green Deal and to ensure that its members stood to benefit from the initiative. Windows are now eligible for funding. However, the work continues. The GGF is constantly lobbying Ministers, MPs and civil servants, fighting hard every step of the way to guarantee that its members will not be disadvantaged.”
Pioneer Trading enjoys record exports
11 August 2011
Pioneer Trading, a window and conservatory fabricator based in Chelmsford, Essex, has broken company records with its export activities, boosted by strong conservatory sales to France.
Pioneer Trading has enjoyed a 32% growth in sales, including 43 conservatories sold through its French trading partner, just between January and June. These record-breaking numbers are the culmination of a three year relationship with a leading French online retailer. Following a series of successful trial orders the retailer selected Pioneer Trading as its principal supplier, citing the company’s speedy order turnaround, distribution efficiency and product quality as its reasons. This has led to Pioneer Trading enjoying steadily growing business on the continent.
“I am delighted to have achieved what the Armstrongs failed at,” said Pioneer MD Danny Williams, referring to the BBC drama/documentary about the U-Fit double-glazing company.
Good news for timber sash windows following ratings reform
10 August 2011
The UK's national system for rating energy efficient windows, the BFRC, has announced a new method for calculating the energy efficiency on timber sash windows. The new rating system will take into account the different nature of timber sash windows and the way they are installed. The decision has been described as ‘great news’ by Brendan Ruddy of glass and fenestration industry consultancy CENSolutions.
Until now the energy rating system for timber sash windows has been close to the system used for calculating casement windows, including the whole of the box in the calculation, even though the majority of it was recessed behind brickwork.
Ruddy, a simulator for CENSolutions said: “This effectively reduced the glass area and hence the solar gain, one of the main factors involved in achieving a better rating. The new method of simulating an energy rating on a timber sash window takes into account this difference in the product and how it is fitted. What this change means in real terms for timber window manufacturers is that an ‘A’ rating, using a sensible IGU specification, is now more achievable.”
The launch of the new rating system will be delayed because new spreadsheets have to be developed, tried and tested before it can be introduced to the marketplace. CENSolutions has been among the companies lobbying hard for the new system to be implemented.
11 jobs lost as Hill Leigh Glazing closes for business
09 August 2011
Hill Leigh Glazing, a double glazing company that traded out of the Walrow Industrial Estate for the last 13 years has been forced to close down, will all 11 staff losing their jobs. As the company enters administration the company’s assets will come under the control of Grant Thornton.
A spokesperson for Grant Thornton said: “On 5th July Nigel Morrison and Alistair Wardell of Grant Thornton were appointed administrators at William Stewart Ltd and William Stewart Manufacturing.”
Property consultants Edward Symmons LLP have been brought in by Grant Thornton to dispose of Hill Leigh Glazing’s assets, including the company’s manufacturing equipment and freehold property.
William Stewart Manufacturing has traded under the Hill Leigh Glazing name since 1998. Since then it has manufactured double glazing windows, but business has suffered because of increasing costs and a fall in consumer demand.
Party’s interested in buying the defunct company’s assets should contact Glen Maxwell on 0117 927454.
Double glazing company expands despite credit crunch
02 August 2011
A double glazing firm from Cumbernauld has thrived despite the current financial climate, opening a new Aberdeen branch. The move has consolidated CMS Enviro Systems reputation as one of Scotland’s fastest growing double glazing operations.
Not long after establishing itself in Aberdeen, the company has already won a control to provide windows for Grampian Housing Association’s properties for the next three years.
Andrew Kerr, CMS’ managing director said: “We saw the potential for growth in the north of the country and Aberdeen seemed like the ideal place to set up a new base for our operations.
“Winning the Grampian Housing Association contract is great for strengthening our presence in the north and east.’’
Grampian Housing said that it was equally pleased with the deal, with property services manager Laura Fiddes adding: “We are committed to sustainable specifications and we were impressed by the capabilities of CMS to deliver this. Their customer focus was also an important factor to take into consideration.”
CMS went on to say that its environmental credentials are a large part of the reason it has managed to do well in the current climate. CMS Enviro Systems recycles 100% of the windows and doors it extracts, which has become a big selling point with local authorities as they work to meet the Scottish Governments strict new recycling targets.
World’s oldest conservatory brand bought by Everest
01 August 2011
Amdega, the world’s oldest conservatory manufacturer which recently went into administration, has been bought by Everest for an undisclosed sum. Everest will now trade under the Amdega title, which has a history dating back to 1874.
The brand name was sold by KPMG, the administrators responsible for disposing of Amdega’s assets to pay off the conservatory maker’s debts. Under the deal, Everest will not be responsible for Amdega’s 300 outstanding orders, and the double glazing firm has no plans to bring back any of the jobs lost in Darlington when the company went under.
Amdega’s 137 year history came to an end this April when the company went into administration, resulting in the loss of 188 of the 197 jobs and leaving many of its conservatory orders unfilled. Some of those orders could potentially cost up £150,000.
“When administrators come in, they try to sell off any assets with the view to try and raise funds for all who are owed money,” a spokesperson for KPMG said. “The brand name is one of those assets. They have sold the brand name Amdega to Everest.”
“Naturally, we are very pleased with this acquisition,” said managing director Andrew Stanway of Everest’s conservatory division. “Conservatories represent an important part of our business and adding a major brand name like Amdega allows us to strengthen and extend our existing offering of high end conservatories.”
Listed hospital wins double glazing permission
08 July 2011
Bath’s St John’s Hospital has said it will be among the first grade one historic listed buildings in England to be fitted with double glazing after being granted planning permission by the local council.
The hospital’s director of property, Paul Taylor, described the decision as a ‘huge leap forward’ for the 800 year-old site. He went on to say that St John’s had to work hard to convince conservationists that the scheme would not compromise the building’s appearance.
“There is a clear need and a national drive to improve fuel efficiency,” Taylor added. “But for 18th-century buildings, of which Bath has a fantastic store, it is particularly difficult to improve the carbon footprint. They have solid walls so you can’t insulate them, and you can’t just put in uPVC windows.”
“Bath has fabulous architectural heritage and it’s important to conserve it, but it’s also important to help Bath as a city evolve and meet the accommodation needs of modern people. Our customers are elderly, vulnerable people and their comfort is important to us.”
In total, it is estimated that the new slimline windows, which have designed to mimic the original Georgian sashes, will save more than 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Homeform enters administration
07 July 2011
Thousands of jobs are at risk at home improvement giant Homeform Group after its owner filed its ‘intention to appoint administrators’ for the firm.
On June 23 Homeform’s backers, US private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, announced that the company would enter administration – just one day after launching a £12 million advertising campaign aimed at revamping its Kitchens Direct brand.
Homeform employs 1,300 people staff at 160 showrooms nationwide, as well as subcontracting to around 1,500 self-employed fitters and designers, and owns major brands such as Kitchens Direct, Dolphin Bathrooms and Moben Kitchens.
Days later, reports emerged that Homeform’s directors were planning to buy back parts of the company ¬¬– without any associated debts – in a move known as a ‘pre-pack’ administration. The brands to be purchased are thought to be Kitchens Direct and Sharps, which may be headed by ex-MFI boss Chris Pavlosky.
This news reflects the difficult climate for the home improvement sector, which has been hit by both a fall in house prices – meaning less homeowners are likely to invest in significant renovations – and the tightening of disposable income due to inflation.
In June, the Confederation of British Industry said that 85% of firms operating in the sector had reported a decline in sales during the month.
Door-Stop up 30% on organic growth
06 July 2011
Composite door manufacturer Door-Stop International has reported a full-year turnover of £17 million, a 30% rise on last year’s figure of £13 million.
In a statement, the company said that had attracted new customers at a steady rate of around 25-30 a week, but attributed most of its sales increase down to organic growth. No details of profitability were given.
“Our existing customers are now buying 40% more doors on average than they were two years ago. We are growing faster than the market, but the composite door market is also expanding quickly,” said managing director Nick Dutton.
“Simply put, composite doors are stealing share from the PVCu panel door market. Customers who used to buy-in both tell us they are done with panels and their associated problems: peeling, pinking and poor security. It’s not worth the time spent in repairs or the cost to their reputation.
The popularity of composite doors, which are usually made from a number of materials such as PVC, wood, insulating foam and GRP (glass reinforced plastic), has increased dramatically in recent years.
In November 2010, a report by analysts MDB said that demand for PVCu doors, particularly from the social housing sector, is falling in favour of metal and composite doors, largely due to concerns over security and longevity.
Tesco moves into double glazing
04 July 2011
Supermarket giant Tesco has joined up with nationwide handyman firm Job Worth Doing to unveil a new online division selling double glazing and other home improvement products.
Together with double glazing firm Weatherseal, the companies will also offer replacement doors and conservatories. Tesco has promised that is offers ‘a better way’ to buy double glazing, free from the ‘horror stories’ and hard sell usually associated with the industry.
Using a newly-launched website, homeowners can choose a style and price for their windows, before a surveyor carries out a home check to make sure the products are right for the job. These are then fitted by a local installer.
Tesco’s marketing director Simon Singleton described the move as ‘an exciting opportunity to drive a coach and horses through a seedy old sector.’
‘We are unique in that we believe in transparent pricing, therefore our guide prices are published on our website, unlike other providers,’ added DIY buyer Fabio Perrotta.
Despite their vast purchasing power – Tesco accounts for £1 in every £7 spent in retail outlets nationwide – prices seem to be broadly in line with industry averages. The company is offering a £554 guide price for a 1100mm x 900mm PVCu window, while conservatories are between £9,000-£11,000.
Double glazing sees Green Deal boost
01 July 2011
The chances of energy efficient double glazing being included in the government’s proposed Green Deal initiative have increased dramatically after the Department of Climate Change (DECC) acknowledged that windows will be part of the scheme.
In an announcement on the DECC’s website, it said the Green Deal ‘will involve an extensive range of energy efficiency measures including replacing leaky windows’.
Although double glazing is not specifically mentioned, it is thought highly unlikely that the government would offer non-energy efficient windows as part of programme aimed at cutting emissions and household bills.
Under the Green Deal, tenants and homeowners across the country will be granted access to interest-free loans with which to buy energy saving home improvements, such as loft and cavity wall insulation. The cost would then be paid back from savings in energy bills.
“This is good news for the industry, but we still have a lot of work ahead to present the facts on energy efficient glass and glazing,” said Nigel Rees, chairman of the Glass and Glazing Federation.
“In homes with non energy efficient windows, up to 25% of heat loss can occur therefore glass and glazing has to be a key part of the Green Deal criteria when it comes to reducing the consumer’s carbon footprint and fuel costs,” he added.
Lister posts record results
13 June 2011
Stoke manufacturer Lister Trade Frames has reported record financial results for 2010, with a £1.2 million rise in sales and a 21% increase in profitability.
This figures go against what has been a tough year for many fabricators, which have faced pressure from both rising material costs and a declining construction sector. Despite this, the company said it was looking to the coming year with 'added confidence' that it is well equipped to survive in a difficult market.
“These results have been very hard fought for,” said managing director Mark Warren.
“We have made a lot of structural changes to the business and have focused on providing customers with a more efficient service along with additional products and extra marketing support to help them to get the sale.
“We have continued to invest in our people, our IT and manufacturing infrastructure and we have been determined not to follow the same route as some of our competitors by going down the ‘let’s make it even cheaper’ route which we believe just ends in a downward spiral to a company’s death.”
Amdega customers could lose £10,000 each
06 June 2011
The closure of Darlington-based Amdega – the world's oldest conservatory manufacturer – has left its customers facing an average loss of around £10,000 each.
Roughly half of the company's £6.5 million debt is owed to 300 customers, who had placed large deposits for the installation of new conservatories. KPMG, the firm's administrators, said that it would try and fill as many orders as it could from existing resources.
“We are working very hard to see if we can send out orders which were ready or nearly ready and are looking at ways of helping as many of the customers as we can,” a KPMG spokeswoman said.
“But these are early days and I would stress we are just exploring all the options at the moment.”
After entering administration late last month, Amdega made nearly all of its 197-strong workforce redundant without warning, which prompted strong criticism of the company's owner, private equity firm Endless.
Endless acquired the company nine months ago, but failed to halt the company's slide in to debt, which saw it lose £6.5 million last year on a turnover of £17.6 million.
A spokesman for Endless said: “At the time of investing we knew that turnaround of Amdega was going to be difficult. However, due to significant legacy issues we inherited together with extremely difficult trading conditions, on this occasion a rescue of the company has not been possible.”
'Get Britain building', says PM
03 June 2011
Following the sharp slump in the construction sector during the first quarter of 2011, David Cameron has acknowledged the importance of revitalising the building industry.
For the first three months of 20011 the overall economy grew by just 0.5%, while construction output fell by 4.7% - meaning that the sector has technically returned to recession.
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Cameron adopted a slogan by a campaign aimed at promoting the value of construction to the economy when expressing his concerns over the figures.
“What's happening in the construction industry is disappointing,” he said during Prime Minister's Questions. “We do need to get Britain building again and that's why we are introducing the new homes bonus."
Get Britain Building (GBB) consists of a number of construction sector organisations, which together are lobbying for reform in order to promote growth within the industry and wider economy.
In response, GBB spokesman Mike Leonard said: “We are delighted that the Prime Minister has today announced that we need to 'Get Britain Building'. The Get Britain Building campaign launched in 2009 has prepared a Plan B, which sets out why investing in construction can create 2.5 million jobs and positive growth in GDP.”
“With 5 million people on the housing waiting list and building material manufacturing capacity and skills being eroded we call on Mr Cameron to turn his fine words into positive action. Our industry is ready and willing to respond.”
Green Deal upped to £10,000, will include double glazing
01 June 2011
The government is expected to announce later today that its planned Green Deal scheme will allow homeowners and tenants to apply for up to £10,000 in interest-free loans for energy efficient home improvements – a substantial rise from the initial figure of £6,500.
In addition, double glazing is likely to be included in the list of available energy saving measures in a move that could transform the glazing sector as a whole, creating thousands of jobs and revitalising a number of struggling companies.
The Green Deal is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons today as part of the government's new Energy Bill. Under the proposals, any purchases will be paid back from savings in energy bills, with the loans to be attached to a property rather than an individual – meaning that homeowners can safely move without having to continue to make repayments.
Originally, double glazing was excluded from the energy saving options, which lead to lobbying from industry bodies such as the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF). However, it now looks like the government has reversed this decision, potentially allowing millions of homes across the UK to have new windows fitted.
“We are raising the Green Deal allowance for improvements to each home that can be funded through savings on the electricity bill, from £6,500 promised at the election to £10,000,” environment minister Greg Barker said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“The coalition is aiming to complete energy improvements to 14 million homes by 2020, driving down the cost of family energy bills, protecting consumers against future price rises and making British homes not only greener but warmer and cosier too.”
Previously, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has said that up to 100,000 jobs could be created by 2015 as part of the Green Deal.
New housing drops in first quarter
10 May 2011
The value of new private housing projects for the first three months of 2011 plummeted by 61% against the year before, a new report by survey by construction information firm Glenigan has said.
Overall, the Glenigan Index showed a decline of 31% through the construction sector as a whole, which the company attributed to reduced government investment and a lack of house building. Social housing was particularly hit hard, falling by 50% from £1.5 billion in the first three months of 2010 to £736 million in the first quarter of 2011.
"The weak first quarter of 2011 is in sharp contrast to the strong rebound experienced a year ago in the run-up to the general election,” said Glenigan economist James Abraham, before adding that the figures indicate that developers are continuing to build out existing schemes but are opening up fewer new sites.
However, he went on to say that house building activity is expected to gradually improve over the course of the year, possibly helped by new government incentives, although market conditions will remain fragile.
“Against this background, the Budget announcement of the £250 million First Buy programme and favourable changes to the way Stamp Duty is charged on large developments will hopefully help lift developer's confidence and the flow of new project starts over the coming months."
North Wales residents call for double glazing ban to be relaxed
06 May 2011
A number of residents and business owners in Llandudno have backed an appeal by one trader against the local council, which has that demanded that she replaces her uPVC double glazed windows with single glazing.
Cindy Atay, who owns a restaurant in the town's Upper Mostyn Street – a conservation area – said she had fitted the windows to reduce the noise from outside and to save energy. However, the council has issued an enforcement issue ordering their removal, as well as turning down her request to fit wooden framed double glazing instead. In response, it said that the changes would 'affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest'.
“These are test cases for everyone in this area who wants to have double glazing,” Atay said.
“We feel we are being discriminated against in not being allowed double glazed windows when other listed buildings in the conservation area have got them.”
David Kavanagh, another restaurant owner, said that he would also like to fit double glazing in order to cut heating bills, and was supporting Atay's appeal.
“We’re behind her 100%. In other Victorian resorts like Brighton, Eastbourne and Torquay they have had a more relaxed attitude and many hotels in conservation areas have double glazing,” he said.
“The Victorians were very progressive and I’m sure they would have approved.”
Pilkington announces £36 million facility
03 May 2011
Glass manufacturer Pilkington has said that it will invest £36 million in a new production line in St Helens, which will create around 50 jobs along with a number of apprenticeships.
The firm's coating facility will produce energy saving domestic glazing products and has been backed by a £5 million grant from the government's new UK Regional Growth Fund, a £1.4 billion three-year scheme that aims to stimulate economic growth by investing in companies that can create significant employment opportunities.
“We are delighted that the government is supporting us in making this investment,” said David Pinder, the company's managing director of building products.
"It is excellent news, not just for our company but also for the local community as it will help to secure the future of UK business. Our aim is to widen customer choice and the new investment will enable us to expand our range of energy saving products to meet increasingly tough regulations.”
The line is scheduled to start operating by October 2012 at Pilkington's Cowley Heath base, which Pinder said will lower the impact of importing products from some of its European plants in line with the sustainability agenda of its Japanese owner, NSG Group.
Amdega folds on poor demand
01 May 2011
Darlington's Amdega – the world's oldest conservatory manufacturer – has entered administration, resulting in the loss of almost 200 jobs.
On April 27 the company, which was established in 1874, told staff that 188 of its 197-strong workforce would be made redundant. Administrators KPMG later confirmed that Amdega had closed and said there was no prospect of selling the business after a last minute attempt to find a buyer failed.
“Amdega is a victim of the severe downturn in the big-ticket and home-related parts of the retail sector,” said KPMG's Mark Firmin.
He went on to say that the firm 'was unable to sustain the ongoing weakness in demand it was experiencing'. Amdega had approximately 300 orders on its books at the time of the administration, all of which are at risk of losing their deposits.
Staff owed unpaid wages and other payments will only receive the statutory minimum guaranteed by the law, while the company's subcontractors are also facing unpaid bills that could cost tens of thousands.
“Our key priority is to assess this situation and communicate with Amdega customers,” said Firmin. “We will be writing to them as quickly as possible, with information and guidance regarding their next steps.”
'Build Now, Pay Pater' offer for construction firms
11 April 2011
Grant Shapps, the UK's housing minister, has announced a new 'Build Now, Pay Later' scheme which will allow developers to begin work on thousands of new homes without buying the land upfront.
Under the scheme, the cost of the site will only need to be met after firms have started building, which the government described as offering a 'shot in the arm' for those in the industry struggling with cash flow in the wake of the economic downturn.
"Draconian top-down targets brought housebuilding to its knees, reaching the lowest level for any peacetime year since 1924. Radical reform is needed to give a boost to developers and kickstart building so we can get the homes this country needs,” Shapps said.
"Up to 40% of the land ready for development in this country is simply sitting idle in the hands of the public sector. So ... I'm giving the green light to the Homes and Communities Agency to lead the way by making six new sites available for development.
He went on to say that these sites – located in Hemel Hempsted, Basingstoke, Tower Hamlets, Northampton, Nottinghamshire and Telford – would be 'the first of many', with all government departments set to be asked to make land available for housebuilding.
In total, 18,000 new jobs could be safeguarded through the scheme, which will be seen as a definite boost to an industry that has slumped to the lowest peacetime level since 1924.
Japanese earthquake hits polymer manufacturer
06 April 2011
Glazing prices are set to rise after the recent Japanese earthquake lead to the temporary closure of the Toray Fine Chemicals Company facility in Chiba, north of Tokyo, which manufactures 30% of Western Europe's polysulphide polymer.
Earlier this month, Toray announced a 'force majeure' – a clause that frees it from meeting its obligations in the event of a disaster such as the earthquake – on production for an unspecified period. Polysulfide sealants are mainly used for the manufacture of insulating glass windows.
The news is likely to have a major impact on the UK glazing sector, largely as other polymer producers are already working at full capacity and won't be able to counter the company's lack of output.
Kommerling Chemische Fabrik, a supplier of adhesives and sealants, has said that while it will be able to maintain normal supplies to existing customers during Toray's closure, it will not be able to take on additional volumes for 'the foreseeable future'. “Further price increases should be expected,” it added.
In addition, polyisobutylene or PIB-based sealants – another key component in insulating glass manufacture – are also in short supply following the disaster, with Kommerling warning producers to be cautious about fixing long term prices 'in this unstable situation'.
Gloucestershire primary schools set for double glazing boost
01 April 2011
A new climate change strategy by Gloucestershire county council has been announced, which includes plans to fit double glazing in 20% of the region's primary schools.
The scheme comes as part of a move to cut costs and lower emissions throughout the county with the aim of saving £38 million over the next decade. In recent years, the authority has faced an annual energy bill of around £10 million.
Other measures include the introduction of solar farms and wind turbines, grants for better insulation for fire stations and the closure of some council buildings. In the first year alone, savings are estimated to be in the region of £700,000.
In a report approved by the council's cabinet earlier this month, recommendations were made to focus on renewable energy in order to soften the blow of lower government spending.
"The council, in common with authorities up and down the country, is facing unprecedented financial pressure and investing in renewable energy will significantly reduce energy costs,” said councillor John Cordwell.
"It could be used to support front-line services at a time when government financial support is reducing.”
Energy certificates must be displayed, says lobby group
16 March 2011
The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has called for the display of energy ratings to be made compulsory in all public buildings as part of a move to increase efficiency.
Currently, all non-residential buildings in the UK over 1,000 m2 must display a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) prominently at all times. These include details on the actual energy usage of the building, together with an A-G rating, much the same as the Windows Energy Rating (WER) scheme, and suggestions of measures that can be taken to lower emissions.
Under the UK-GBC's proposals, the display of DERs would be extended to all public buildings regardless of size and would be written into the energy bill that is currently being debated in parliament.
“If you want to go on a diet, you first find out how much you weigh. The property sector urgently needs to go on an energy diet but to do so, it has to be able to accurately measure and report on its energy use,” said UK-GBC chief executive Paul King.
“Display Energy Certificates do exactly that and should be rolled out to all buildings as soon as practically possible. There is a window of opportunity to do this in the energy bill currently going through parliament. A to G ratings for commercial buildings will provide a reputational driver for both landlords and tenants to take energy use more seriously, leading to carbon and financial savings.”
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average property loses around 18% of its heat through its windows. Replacing single glazing with double glazed windows can lead to a reduction of around 720 kilograms of carbon dioxide every year.
Modplan says coloured PVCu sales on the rise
01 March 2011
Trade fabricator Modplan has said that sales of its coloured and foiled PVCu products have weathered the downturn facing the glazing industry.
“The increase is coming from the replacement of the replacement sector,” said Heidi Sachs, the firm's managing director. “This is good news for us, of course, but it’s also good news for the industry because it shows that colour isn’t just about the commercial sector, opportunities clearly exist in the domestic market.”
Although the glazing sector as a whole has suffered a difficult start to the year, many firms are reporting stronger sales in premium and speciality products, with this area proving surprisingly resilient. With this in mind, Sachs went on to say that companies could look to capitalise on this if the market remains depressed.
“It’s fascinating to see that consumers upgrading their windows and doors are looking for more than just the practical, energy efficient benefits of PVC – they’re also looking for aesthetic benefits,” she said.
“Colour has the ability to offer consumers something very different in terms of aesthetics and still has the ability to surprise consumers with its versatility. I wouldn’t be surprised if more installers started using colour to differentiate themselves from their competitors.”
Energy bills 'could double every five years'
15 February 2011
Financial services group Unicredit has said household utility bills in the UK could double every five years until 2020 due to cost pressures from environmental programmes and rising network charges.
In a recently published report, the company said the switch to greener energy will have a significant impact, with a portion of the cost of building nuclear power stations and wind farms set to be passed on to customers.
“According to our analysis, a typical UK energy bill could rise from the current level of £1,000 per year to over £2,000 per year by 2015,” it said. “As investment occurs, bills could double every five years until 2020, in our view.”
This news came shortly before energy giant E.ON's announcement that it is to raise prices 9% for electricity and 3% for gas due to "rising industry costs". British Gas, another of the country's major energy suppliers, said that it was raising its domestic electricity and gas tariff by 7% in November.
"It's been over two years since we last increased our prices, and, unlike other companies, we held off from increasing them during the incredibly cold temperatures we saw in late November and December,” said the company's managing director, Graham Bartlett.
Cold December to cause rise in heating bills
11 February 2011
Households across the country are set to face an increase in energy bills after the coldest December on record, with price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com estimating that the average combined gas and electricity winter bill will be £437 this month.
"Brits will be brought back down to earth with a bump this New Year when a huge energy bill lands on their doorstep, especially after experiencing the coldest December since records began, “ said Scott Byrom, moneysupermarket.com's utilities manager.
“With many bill payers having cranked up their heating during the ‘Deep Freeze’ and having experienced an increase of 5.3%to the price of gas since November, and 7.5% to the price of electricity, many will really struggle to afford this expensive finish to a costly festive period.”
Worst hit, he said, would be customers using their provider's standard tariff, who should consider changing to an online deal and pay by direct direct debit, saving £172 – or 16% – off each annual bill.
In addition, he recommended installing double glazing to reduce energy consumption. “Double glazing is pricey to install but will make a difference to bills over time,” he said. “Heat loss through windows is cut by a whopping 50% – saving around £100 a year on bills.”
Pioneer wins employee award
04 February 2011
Essex-based manufacturer Pioneer Trade Frames has won a health, safety and welfare award in recognition of its 'forward-thinking employment practices'.
The award was granted by employment law firm Peninsula after it carried out an audit at Pioneer's Chelmsford offices. The two companies said they would now be working together to provide 'a highly professional employment legal department'.
“Pioneer Trade Frames has a very professional approach to business,” Danny Williams, Pioneer’s owner, said. “We don’t just pay lip service to this either – we want to make sure that the company provides the best working environment for its employees, which is why we’ve employed the services of Peninsula.
“However, it was a significant boost to the business to find that we have been doing something right before they came on board, and I am delighted to receive this health, safety and welfare award.”
Pioneer operates two sites in Chelmsford, producing doors, windows and conservatories for trade suppliers. Established over 20 years ago, the company is one of window fabricator Synseal's longest serving customers.
Cold snaps drives up sales for Safestyle
02 February 2011
Safestyle UK, one of the country's largest double glazing firms, has said the recent cold weather has lead to an increase of 28% in TV, radio and online related sales in the fourth quarter of 2010.
“Our sales figures have been excellent. There has been a real rush of customers wanting our new uPVC windows and doors in the past few months,” a company spokesman said.
“And despite the bad weather our installers haven't allowed the snow and ice to stop them getting to destinations across the UK. Their determination and professionalism have played a huge part in our success."
The company went on to say that it believes the hike was related to various factors, including the severe cold snap and ongoing stagnancy in the property market.
With severe weather warnings throughout much of November, December and January, Safestyle said consumers were purchasing double glazing to prevent warmth from leaving their homes, while others looked to make their properties more desirable to potential buyers in an increasingly competitive market.
On February 2, the Nationwide Building Society reported that house prices have now fallen five times in seven months, with mortgage lending at a record low.
Rugby glazing firm closes
01 February 2011
Rugby Double Glazing has become the latest independent to fall foul of the economic downturn after entering liquidation on January 26.
The company, which had been operating for more than 20 years and employed 18 staff, has called in Coventry-based BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency to look for a potential buyer.
Director of BRI, John Warburton, said: “It is very sad that a company which has served Rugby for so long is going into liquidation.
“But there has been some interest in the company and if a sale can be agreed then it is possible that the business could continue under a different management.”
In recent weeks, numerous smaller glazing firms have closed on the back of low spending in both the public and private sectors. So far, most major companies have been able to ride out the storm due to larger cash reserves and order books.
Last month, it was confirmed that the UK economy suffered a contraction of 0.5% in the last quarter or 2010, with the Treasury stating that the winter weather may have contributed to the majority of that figure, while a recent report by analysts Hewes and Associates suggested the construction industry would not return to growth until 2014.
Gwent company enters administration
28 January 2011
Gwent Aluminium, a supplier of uPVC and aluminium double glazing and conservatories, has stopped trading, putting around 15 jobs at risk.
According to Cardiff-based insolvency firm Doyle Davies, the company folded last month, leaving customers unsure if their work is to be completed.
"We are talking about the best course of action, but it looks like it could be liquidation,” he said.
"We understand the company is insolvent and it is likely winding up proceedings will be commenced."
The South Wales Argus newspaper said that one customer had paid £15,000 up front for a conservatory that is yet to be finished. To fund the work, the family had remortgaged their home, and has since been told that an insurance policy provided by Gwent was invalid.
A number of small and medium sized glazing firms have closed recently, with the global economic downturn biting down hard throughout the sector. Last month Darby Glass, once the UK's largest independent supplier of insulating glass units, ceased trading, as did Southend-based firm Homeseal UK Home Improvements.
On January 26 Rugby Double Glazing, another independent, also closed, marking the start of what is set to be a difficult year for the industry's smaller operators.
Job losses as Darby Glass shuts down
11 January 2011
Scunthorpe manufacturer Darby Glass has closed after amassing debts worth £820,0000, leaving more than 60 staff unemployed.
Established in 1973, the firm officially ceased trading on November 25th, marking the end of a dramatic decline in fortunes for what was once one of the UK's largest independent suppliers of insulating glass units.
At its height, Darby Glass employed more than 500 staff across 12 sites in the UK, with its annual turnover of more than £22 million leading to a flotation on the London Stock Exchange. However, in 2009 the company saw revenue slump to £2.3 million against earnings of more than £4 million the year before as the economic climate worsened.
Simon Plant, a partner with SFP, said: "While we have been working tirelessly to find a way to keep Darby Glass trading, the only option that was left in the absence of a sensible alternative was the closure of the company.
"The company has been continuing to trade and we were hoping to secure the future of the business.
"But unfortunately a willing buyer could not be found."
He added that the company's remaining assets would be auctioned off later this month to help repay the debts.
Cornwall Council gives go-ahead to solar project
05 January 2011
Cornwall is to welcome the largest solar farm in the UK.
Cornwall Council gives go-ahead to solar project
Plans are now in motion to construct the country's biggest solar farm in Cornwall, after planning permission was granted for the project.
The 27-acre site, located near Bodmin, will have the potential to generate 5MW of renewable electricity once it is up and running.
Chairman of Cornwall Power David Fyffe said: "Normally such a system would sell electricity to the national grid but we have selected the site carefully in order to provide power to the water treatment works that is nearby."
He emphasised that the solar panels will be more sustainable than some others because the electricity will be used at the site where it is generated.
Work on the site is expected to be started in the spring, with bosses hopeful that electricity will be available by the end of 2011.
Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne recently said that more efforts need to be made to use energy from renewable sources in the UK.
Southend glazing firm enters liquidation
04 January 2011
Southend-based firm Homeseal UK Home Improvements has been wound up by the High Court, with the company reportedly continuing to take orders despite being placed in liquidation.
Homeseal UK was forced to close last month over debts to a supplier, causing many of its customers to lose hundreds of pounds in deposits and uncompleted work. Southend Trading Standards has now said that it is examining complaints about people canvassing for business with the same flyers and paperwork used by the firm.
Mick Holland, community engagement officer for the Southend Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, said: “We have been made aware of a double glazing company continuing to take deposit payments from Southend residents, despite being placed into liquidation.
“This has resulted in the customers involved losing their money. We remind residents to remain cautious when handing over payments to cold-calling companies.”
Before its closure, Trading Standards said it was investigating 40 customer complaints against the firm, including accusations of work not carried out and poor quality installations.
The winding up order against Homeseal UK was carried out over debts owed to Hurst Plastics Limited, a Hull-based uPVC manufacturer. The firm also owes around £6,000 to glazing supplier Ipswich Glass.
Double glazing loses 'rogue trader' tag, says GGF
22 December 2010
A new study by Consumer Direct, a government-backed group run by the Office of Fair Trading, has shown that double glazing installers did not appear in a list of the public's most complained about tradespeople.
According to the report, Consumer Direct received more than 5,300 complaints last year about traders offering home maintenance work on the doorstep – a 16% rise against the year before.
No double glazing installers featured on the published list, which instead was headed by roofers (28% of complaints), tarmacers and pavers (23%) and insulation salesman (9%). The top 5 was completed by those offering 'general building work' (8%) and guttering repairs and services (6%).
The news was welcomed by the industry body Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), which described it as debunking 'the common notion that many double glazing salesmen are rogue traders.'
Commenting on the report Nigel Rees, chief executive of the GGF said: “The relationship between the double glazing company and its customer is an important one, and we work hard to protect the rights of both of them. However, some within the industry are benefiting from publicising the hackneyed image of a cowboy double glazing installer.
“We seldom come across rogue double glazing installers, and neither does the consumer champion Consumer Direct. I think this is something the industry should be proud of.”
Family 'persecuted' over double glazing in listed building
17 December 2010
A Birkenhead family have said that they fear being forced out of their Grade II listed home after having the 'wrong windows' installed.
Pat O'Hara, a construction worker, has claimed he is being 'persecuted' for his decision to install double glazing as he and his wife now face a bill of more than £35,000 from their local council to have the property restored to its original condition.
O'Hara said that he had fitted the windows to the property 10 years ago to provide health benefits to his son John, 29, who suffered from cerebral palsy up until his death two years ago.
“The windows were rotten and we needed to make sure the house was warm and not draughty. We had them put in for my son’s health,” he said.
The O'Hara's home is in Birkenhead’s Clifton Park Conservation Area, which has strict rules about changes to the buildings which are considered to be of historic importance.
This has lead to an ongoing dispute with Wirral Council, who have outlined a number of proposals, including prosecuting the O’Haras, accepting it is not in the public interest to pursue a prosecution, or the council undertaking the work and charging it to the house.
However, in a report the council's planning committee has recommend a prosecution, which could mean a substantial fine for the family. The document described the Clifton Park Conservation Area as registered as ‘at risk’ on the Government’s Heritage at Risk register, adding that 'these factors must be balanced against the personal circumstances of the occupiers.'
New scheme could offer holidays as double glazing incentive
15 December 2010
The government's Green Deal programme could see expensive foreign holidays given away as prizes to to people that take out a loan to install insulation or double glazing in their homes.
The Green Deal scheme, first announced by the Labour government and continued by the coalition, promises to lend the money for an "energy efficiency makeover" to homeowners and tenants across England and Wales. The funding for the loans will come from private companies and not the government, with the repayments met by savings in energy bills.
However predictions over the take-up of the loans, which are set to be introduced in the second half of 2012, have been low enough to prompt Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne to say that further incentives could be used.
"We will legislate to allow the energy companies to incentivise owner-occupiers," Huhne said in an interviews with the Times on November 23rd.
"If they want to offer the chance of a cruise for two to the Norwegian fjords that's something they can do. Or it could be a cash voucher, cash rebate, or rebate on your energy bill for a year or two years. It's up to the energy companies.'
In total, the government has estimated that 16 million homes would save money if walls and lofts were insulated and double glazing was installed. On announcing the Green Deal scheme, Huhne said it will lead to the creation of up to 100,000 new jobs by 2015, including accredited energy advisors and insulation installers.
Edinburgh to lift glazing ban
06 December 2010
Council leaders in Edinburgh have confirmed that a ban on double glazing in listed buildings in the city will be lifted due to environmental concerns.
Currently, all double glazing in A and B-listed buildings is restricted in Scotland's capital because of the "loss of the original fabric" it could cause, as well as its impact on their historic character. These rules are now set to change, allowing hundreds of homeowners to benefit from warmer homes, reduced heating bills and lower carbon emissions.
The news follows the completion of a successful trial last year, which saw some Georgian tenements in the city fitted with new “slim cavity” double glazing – ultra-thin units that fit into most existing glazing openings, and are virtually unnoticeable.
However, not all listed buildings will be able to escape the ban. Properties with historic or "crown" glass windows will not be allowed to upgrade to double glazing until the original glass is damaged or broken.
The new legislation is also likely to insist that slim cavity units are the only acceptable option, with finishes probably limited to timber frames, and not PVCu and aluminium, as the council seeks to preserve the city's historic appearance.
Green Deal falls short, says FoE
02 December 2010
The government's proposed Green Deal programme has been criticised by environmental group Friends of the Earth, which has warned that Britain's poorest families are unlikely to benefit from the scheme.
The Green Deal, a key part of the government's new Energy Bill, outlines plans which could see homeowners and tenants offered loans for energy saving measures such as insulation and double glazing. Repayments would then be made from savings in energy bills.
However Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth's senior climate change campaigner, has said that the scheme is unlikely to help the 4.5 million UK households living in fuel poverty – many of which are private tenants who would need cooperation from their landlord – or those with hard-to-treat homes needing more than standard insulation procedures.
"The self-styled 'greenest Government ever' must ensure the Energy Bill goes further, with a plan for a nationwide refit to slash emissions from British homes by 42 per cent this decade - starting with a minimum energy efficiency standard for homes rented through a private landlord or letting agency,” he said.
"A strong Energy Bill would bring about warmer homes, cheaper fuel bills, tens of thousands of new jobs and better public transport - the government must not miss this chance to set us on course to a cleaner and greener future."
Last month, energy secretary Chris Huhne that the Green Deal would create up to 100,000 new jobs by 2015, many of which could be in the energy efficient glazing industry.
Advanced Group sees triple glazing boost
01 December 2010
Triple glazing specialist Advanced Group is to create 20 jobs by expanding its East Kilbride headquarters as it looks to meet an increase in demand.
Currently the firm is only supplier of triple glazing in Scotland, and strong sales have now led it to purchase a neighbouring 5,000 square foot site to expand its manufacturing capability.
The company says it has spent almost £100,000 on the research and development of its triple glazed window units and uPVC frames over the past few years, which offers a 30% improvement on insulation compare to traditional double glazing.
Mark Watson, owner and founder of Advance Group, said: “The success we have enjoyed to date can be attributed our decision to invest in the development of our triple glazing product, which we felt there was real need and demand for in Scotland.
“It’s not typical for companies to grow through a recession and we are proud we have managed to increase sales and extend our premises.
“We are confident this side of the business will continue to thrive and our next step is to strengthen our workforce.”
DGCOS conference sees strong turnout
30 November 2010
Despite a series of accidents and motorway closures due to bad weather, the first Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS) conference still attracted more than 350 delegates to the RICOH Arena last month.
Hosted by Nick Ross, former presenter of BBC's Crimewatch and Watchdog, the event aimed to recruit new members to the initiative, which gives consumers extra protection against unscrupulous or untrustworthy traders.
With turnout close to the expected 400, the reaction seemed largely positive, with many attendees praising the event's professionalism, as well as its key message of improving the image of the double glazing sector.
“The industry cannot ignore its problem reputation anymore,said Nick Dutton, MD of Door-Stop, during the conference. ?s Synseal Extrusions Ltd we lobbied our former local MP Geoff Hoon, when he was leader of the House of Commons a few years ago and we were campaigning for 5% VAT on energy rated windows.
“He seemed very positive at first, but non-committal later on. When we pressed him, he revealed that ?ehind the scenes, the Government just don? trust the double glazing industry which says it all. DGCOS is the answer and the need for it is evidenced by attendance at the conference.”
Edinburgh to lift glazing ban
17 November 2010
Council leaders in Edinburgh have confirmed that a ban on double glazing in listed buildings in the city will be lifted due to environmental concerns.
Currently, all double glazing in A and B-listed buildings is restricted in Scotland's capital because of the "loss of the original fabric" it could cause, as well as its impact on their historic character. These rules are now set to change, allowing hundreds of homeowners to benefit from warmer homes, reduced heating bills and lower carbon emissions.
The news follows the completion of a successful trial last year, which saw some Georgian tenements in the city fitted with new “slim cavity” double glazing – ultra-thin units that fit into most existing glazing openings, and are virtually unnoticeable.
However, not all listed buildings will be able to escape the ban. Properties with historic or "crown" glass windows will not be allowed to upgrade to double glazing until the original glass is damaged or broken.
The new legislation is also likely to insist that slim cavity units are the only acceptable option, with finishes probably limited to timber frames, and not PVCu and aluminium, as the council seeks to preserve the city's historic appearance.
Market outlook positive for the next 5 years, says study
03 November 2010
A new report has said that the UK market for doors, windows and conservatories is expected to increase steadily year-on-year until 2015.
The study, by analysts MDB, said that the industry will grow modestly to the end of the forecast period following declines of 9% and 16% in 2008 and 2009.
A 1% drop is still expected for 2010, valuing the market as a whole at £2990 million, but next year this is predicted to rise 1% instead, a figure the MDB said reflects 'the continuing uncertainty regarding consumer disposable income.'
Despite this, an overall increase of 7% is projected between 2010 and 2015, taking sales to a peak of £3195 million (at 2010 prices) in the latter year.
This news will come as a boost to many of those in the sector, which has suffered heavily since the beginning of the economic downturn.
However, larger firms – or at least those with a degree of liquidity – are likely to be the main beneficiaries, with the report stating that there is now 'some evidence of consolidation' in what has traditionally been a very fragmented market.
But being bought or merged isn't the only challenge for smaller companies. These, says the report,
have been facing increasing difficulties in meeting the more stringent Building Regulations, which are expected to be made even stronger over the next few years. 'This is likely to create even greater difficulties for the smaller industry participants,' it said.
DGCOS conference aims 'to improve industry's reputation'
02 November 2010
The Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme's (DGCOS) 2010 conference, titled 'A Mission to Improve the Industry’s Reputation', will take place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on November 11.
Hosted by spokesmen Nick Ross of TV's Watchdog, the event will be attended by more than 400 installers working across the industry – an impressive number given that the scheme only launched in January this year.
In a statement Tony Pickup, founder of the DGCOS, described the event for as both 'for members and those who are interested in membership,' adding that attendees 'will get the opportunity to find out more about the scheme, its marketing support and the 2011 consumer campaign.'
Many of the talks will focus on improving the perception of the industry, which was responsible for 22,000 complaints to trading standards last year alone.
Commenting on the announcement, Martin Randall of sponsors Crystal Direct said: “Whether we like it or not, historical sharp practices and poor after-sales care have given us all a reputation that has proven difficult to shift.
“The industry has changed a lot in the last 20 years but there are always exceptions and sadly poor service and sub-standard products will always hit the headlines. DGCOS is trying to improve the industry’s reputation and offers an independent, impartial ombudsman to deal fairly with any problems.
“Any scheme that helps to show the public we are a truly decent and professional industry deserves our full support,” he added. “DGCOS offers a real alternative and a chance to prove that the industry has genuinely cleaned up its act.”
Government announces home efficiency plan
01 November 2010
Chris Huhne has unveiled the government's new 'Green Deal' programme, which could allow homeowners and tenants to take out loans from their local councils to install energy saving measures such as double glazing or solar panels.
In a statement on November 2nd Huhne, the UK's energy and climate change minister, outlined the proposal as part of a radical plan to upgrade all 26 million homes in the country over the next 10 years.
Alongside borrowing from local authorities, householders will be able to take the new 'pay-as-you-save' loans from private businesses, with instalments due to be paid pack over time through savings on fuel bills. No upfront payment will be required, while new legislation will force landlords to allow their tenants to take part in the scheme.
"At a time of increasing gas prices, energy efficiency is a no-brainer," said Huhne. "It's also a massive economic and job opportunity, which could help Britain's economy turn the corner."
The government has estimated that it will create over 73,000 jobs in insulation fitting alone, with a total of 250,000 jobs possible if every home in the UK takes part by 2030.
Legislation to start the process of establishing the Green Deal is due to be introduced into parliament next month and is expected to be launched from autumn 2012.
Triple glazing experiment for Victorian terrace
28 October 2010
The Building Research Establishment Group (BRE) has announced a new government-backed project to fit a Victorian property with triple glazing and other improvements to test methods of making older properties energy efficient.
The experiment will see the building, located on the BRE's site in Watford, upgraded from an Energy Performance Certificate rating of F to an improved B-rating, with the other properties in the terrace due to follow.
In total, the BRE said it would be testing five different types of windows; reconditioned timber sash windows fitted with slimline double glazing, triple glazed composites, timber double glazed sash replacements, PVCu double glazed sash replacements, Velux tripled glazed rooflights and a number of 'innovative prototypes'.
Other products include LED lighting, aerogel floor insulation and a solar thermal heating system.
Commenting on the announcement Greg Barker, climate change minister, said: "It's vital we learn as much as we can about how to make Victorian terraced houses more energy efficient, as this is a common type of housing.
"The practical knowledge gained from this project will be extremely valuable as we set out on the biggest overhaul of home energy efficiency in history.”
After the scheme is launched, the BRE said the property will be open to both the construction industry and the public for viewing so that its new-found 'best practice knowledge' could be applied to their own projects and homes.
Head of glazing firm jailed
15 October 2010
The owner of a West Midlands double glazing company has been jailed for nine months for stealing more than £3,000 from his customers.
Between December 2005 and September 2008 Paul Lane, who traded under the names Elan Glazing and Paul Lane Window Repairs, took cash deposits from 18 victims that ranged from £20 to £650 and failed to complete the work.
He was arrested by West Midland Police after the deposits – some of which were from the elderly and vulnerable – rose above £3,000. During the trial, it emerged that Lane owed a further £18,000 to 65 more local residents.
Lane, who defended himself, told Judge Hilary Watson: “I’m extremely sorry. I’m not a crook. I’m 46 and I’ve gone through my life with a clean record, but things went wrong.”
But Judge Watson said in response: “There were 18 individuals, some whom were elderly, all who thought they were dealing with a reputable tradesman who advertised in the local paper or who came recommended.
“You robbed Peter to pay Paul but you were paying yourself. You didn’t live a lavish lifestyle, but you were using other people’s money for ordinary living expenses and to pay customers who were wanting money from you.”
Profits up at Anglian Group
08 October 2010
Anglian Group, the parent company of Anglian Home Improvement, has said that profits for the first half of 2010 have risen by 70% despite a fall in revenue.
Norwich-based Anglian, one of the UK's largest double glazing firms, saw a climb in pre-tax profits climb to £11.3 million for the period up until March 27, up from £6.2 million the year before. Turnover saw a significant drop of £15.5 million to £209.2 million.
This follows a recent restructuring at the company as part of a £30 million cost cutting drive in the wake of the economic downturn. In 2008/09, Anglian shed almost 1,000 staff to bring its workforce down to 2,056 as the recession bit hard, with the firm posting a £7 million operating loss for the year.
Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press on September 22, Peter Mottershead, group chief executive, said the company was now focused on investing profits back in the business after a period of relative stability.
“We have to take the strengths we have and invest in the business ready for when the upturn comes. We have continued to invest in the brand and products,” he said.
“We are putting the building blocks in place so that when the upturn comes we are in a good position for revenue growth and further growth in profits.”
However, Mottershead remained cautious over the company's performance over the coming twelve months, stating that while current trade is up on last year, the forthcoming government spending review may have a significant impact on the market as a whole.
Energy Saving Week set for last week of October
07 October 2010
Local councils, groups and private companies across the country are gearing up for this year's Energy Saving Week (ESW), which will take place between October 25-31.
The theme for ESW 2010, now in its 14th year, is “Control”, with each day focusing on a different aspect, such as 'insulation', micro-generation' or 'transport'.
Planned events include free screenings of climate change/peak oil film 'The Age of Stupid' in Slough, eco-building courses in Bristol courtesy of the Green Doors scheme, while the Centre for Sustainable Energy will be offering a number of energy saving workshops. The Energy Saving Trust will also be offering advice at various council events throughout the week.
The double glazing industry has also been keen to support the event, with Anglian linking up with TV and radio presenter Philipa Forrester to discuss green issues on a show to be broadcast on BBC Radio Cornwall, Smooth Radio London and BFBS.
Installation firm Coastline, in conjunction with Pilkington, also recently held a seminar based on the Isle of Wight to mark ESW. Aimed at its staff and trade customers, the company said it aimed to make them aware “of the latest products, developments and practices it has in place to fulfil, above and beyond, its energy efficiency targets”.
To get involved with Energy Saving Week, or for more information, visit the Energy Saving Trust
Frustration rises over Document L
06 October 2010
An industry backlash against the recent U-turn by FENSA over new building regulations appears to be under way, with many installers outraged after what they see as an undermining of standards and unnecessary expense.
On October 1st, the new regulations came into force. Previously, Part L stated that every new window will require at least a C rating through the Window Energy Ratings (WER) scheme – the equivalent of a U-value of 1.6.
However, in a recent letter to its members, FENSA said it would accept a new 'Simple Method' of compliance. This revealed that installers now don't have to get a WER rating certificate after all, as long as they fit frames with soft-coat Low E Glass, a warm edge spacer (minimum 16mm) and 90% argon gas.
With the cost of licences and compliance under the old method running into the thousands, those in the double glazing sector have been quick to question the move, which is thought to have been made due to a lack of readiness in the industry for the new regulations.
In a letter to FENSA, Daniel Williams, managing director of Pioneer Trading Ltd, outlined his frustrations.
“I was most impressed with the ‘Simple Method’”, he said, “which does indeed appear to make it easy enough for almost anyone to comply; even people that don’t make windows at all. Like my dog for example.
“That is obviously great news for the whole of the glazing industry, allowing everyone to keep making and installing windows without ever falling foul of the regulations.”
Institute unveils robot window cleaner
04 October 2010
Scientists working at the Pohang Institute of Intelligent Robotics (PIRO) in South Korea have developed a robot that can scale high rise buildings while cleaning windows on both sides.
The Windoro, which is set for commercial release next year, is made of two modules held on to the the glass by neodymium magnets. Using water, detergent and rotating pads, its makers say it achieves a streakless finish and will hold on windows up to 25mm thick even when it is powered down.
The device also uses distance measuring sensors, attitude determination and collision detection to plot its course as it moves across the glass. The design isn't perfect however, and cleaning smaller window panes means will mean manually applying the robot to both sides. There may be a slight issue with its target market of high rises too – most windows in skyscrapers don't open on both sides, meaning that just fitting the robot could still be a two person job.
With that in mind, it's probably fair to say that it's not going to replace the old fashioned method for most people just yet, but it could be a step towards banishing another thankless cleaning task for good.
No price has been announced for the Windoro yet, but the robot reportedly took around 300 million won (around US$258,500) to develop, and PIRO expects to pull in around 50 billion won in sales (US$43 million).
Home improvement market “set for promising year”
02 October 2010
A new study has shown that the recession hasn't lessened the UK's thirst for DIY, with one expert saying the outlook for 2011 is particularly positive.
Last month, a report from double glazing firm Everest showed that 18 million people are planning a significant DIY project over the next 12 months, with the typical budget in the region of £2,831 – adding up to a to a total of £50 billion nationwide.
Anna-Marie DeSouza, editor of Build It magazine, said that she is 'not at all surprised' at the figures, adding that improving a property is a solid investment for the future.
"The home improvement market looks set to have yet another promising year,” she said.
“Homemaking is having a revival at the moment, so there's nothing trendier than partaking in a bit of DIY or mending and replacing something. It can be anything - a new lick of paint, changing door handles or sprucing up the exterior.”
In addition, she said that the statistics show that homeowners are becoming more reluctant to call in tradesman for smaller jobs in the wake of the economic downturn.
"I would recommend that everyone tries out the smaller things - anything they feel comfortable with - and leave the more precise jobs to the professionals,” she added.
Door-Stop gives 'final notice' over building regulations
01 October 2010
Composite door manufacturer Door-Stop has mailed 13,273 installers and fabricators with a reminder to notify them of the newly-revised Building Regulations, which came into force on October 1st.
Door-Stop described the mailout as giving installers their ‘final notice’ of the new legislation, which states that every new window will now require either at least a C rating through the Window Energy Ratings scheme, or a U-value of 1.6. Doors will need to achieve a U-value of 1.8.
Nick Dutton, Managing Director of Door-Stop, said his firm was sending the reminder because the authorities behind the new regulations, such as local councils and the BFRC, hadn't done so adequately.
“I’ve spoken to so many companies who either aren’t aware of the legislation, or are confused about compliance,” he said. “There’s been a lot of debate about Window Energy Ratings in the press, but almost nothing about doors. And what about those who don’t read the magazines?
“There’s a thirst for facts that isn’t being addressed. Information on the legislation has been woefully neglected and those on the front line aren’t being supported. This isn’t a matter of one door company against another. Door-Stop has done the groundwork with BRE on U-value certificates (each and every one of our door comes with its own certificate to prove compliance) – but other companies should do the same. Everyone should be offering a certificate.”
Over the past few months, there has been mounting confusion in the industry about the extent that which companies will conform to the new regulations. In August Richard Bate, Technical Director of Build Check, said that at the current rate of compliance it would take over nine years for every fabricator to attain its ratings. However, Dutton warned against complacency over the issue.
“Some have suggested that the regulations won’t be policed, but people said that when the new fire regulations came into force in 2006. Two to three years later queues started forming in the courts. There will be a delay but once Building Control start doing their checks and look for proof of compliance there will be instructions to some installers to replace.
“Rumours that the Regulations were to be delayed have turned out to be Chinese Whispers too. In fact, in reply to our letter in July, Andrew Stunnell, the Building Regulations Minister, said that ‘although there have been calls to delay the introduction of the Part L changes on 1st October these are in fact going ahead as planned.’ You can’t say clearer than that.”
Keep warm this winter with double glazing
20 September 2010
Autumn seems to be fading fast already, and the winter chill has already begun to creep up in homes up and down the country. And if there's mince pies already available in the shops, then perhaps its time to think about how you can save energy and keep yourself warm throughout the coldest months.
Obviously, this is the time of year that double glazing really starts to pay for itself. It's estimated that between 18-25% of heat is lost through the windows in an average home each year – a substantial amount in anyone's book.
This translates a saving in heating bills of around £135 per year, with secondary glazing estimated to be around £85. Another advantage is condensation, which should reduced considerably (although if it's appearing inside the glass itself, its usually the sign of a faulty pane).
Of course, these are familiar arguments for double glazing, but they do seem that bit more convincing when you bear in mind that last winter was the coldest in more than a quarter of a century. Some predictions are that we could be in for an equally severe end to 2010, but long-term estimates of this sort are famously tricky.
Either way in practical terms, it may be worth making a decision sooner rather than later if you are considering double glazing. As the temperature drops, the appeal of having your windows removed and replaced over a couple of days lessens and lessens quite dramatically, even if it may be for the best in the long run.
Cambridge firm unveils PV greenhouse
10 September 2010
Polysolar, a Cambridge-based technology company, has produced a greenhouse that can generate 85-100 watts of electricity from each of its semi-transparent panes.
Described as the world’s first domestic solar greenhouse, the model was exhibited for the first time at a green technology event in the grounds of London's Clarendon House.
Demonstrating the firm’s new semi-transparent solar photovoltaic glazing, the greenhouse attracted attention from high-profile guests such as the Prince of Wales. Polysolar said its technology could be eventually be used to cover entire buildings in power generating facades, as well as structures such as conservatories, carports, shelters and walkways.
Currently, the greenhouse is not commercially available as each of the brown-tinted panes costs in the region of £300, but the company said it is working hard both reduce costs and make the glass fully transparent.
“Most solar cells are a bit ugly and not very aesthetically pleasing. These ones are, and work better in the UK climate with the low light intensity,” said CEO Hamish Watson.
“We’re working to produce a truly transparent glass. At the moment it is heavily tinted but, if we can make it transparent, ultimately any window in the world could use this technology,” he added, before stating that the Prince had expressed an interested in the product.
“He was interested in putting in solar panels and he asked about the cost. I think he was impressed,” he said.
How much will a conservatory add to the value of your home?
08 September 2010
The housing market is looking pretty bleak at the moment, with a recent study predicting that 10% of British homeowners – or around 1.75 million properties – could be forced to rent out their home and downsize if a double-dip recession does strike.
However, if you're unlucky enough to need to make a sale at the moment, what can you do to make your property stand out from the crowd? One popular option in the past has been to add a conservatory, but is that the right choice, especially if your budget is already tight?
According to the common consensus, installing a conservatory will add 4-5% to your home’s value. With a basic 5m x 5m model costing around £12,500, your property will need to be worth around £250,000 mark for you to break even. Unfortunately though, there's a ceiling to this figure – fitting a £15,000 conservatory to a £900,000 house isn't going to have the estate agent upping the price by £45,000.
Instead, you need to make sure the quality of what you're adding matches your property. Remember that a well-built and well-designed conservatory can be a usable extra room all year round, not just for the summer months, and make sure your design takes this into account. In short, treat your conservatory in the same way as you would an extension – albeit one that costs around a third of the price. At least this way you'll make sure you protect your investment and have a room you'll actually want to spend time in.
In terms of making a quicker sale though, unfortunately these things are pretty hard to measure. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence (usually from estate agents) that say homes with conservatories do tend to move quicker, but little in the way of firm, reliable figures.
Having said that, quality is always desirable, and that's no different when talking about a conservatory, extension or swimming pool. With that in mind, if your budget is small enough to make you think you won't be able to do your property justice, then it's probably the wrong move to make. If on the other hand, you can afford it, you could help make your home that bit more desirable in a market that's looking increasingly stagnant.
'Every house in the country ought to be double glazed', says TV expert
05 September 2010
Property expert George Clarke has called for UK homeowners to take a holistic approach to making their homes more energy efficient, describing double glazing as a key component to reducing emissions and cutting fuel bills.
In an interview with The Telegraph Clarke, presenter of Channel 4's The Home Show and The Restoration Man, said double glazing, especially when combined with loft and cavity insulation, will make a real difference to both the environment and household fuel bills.
"When you look at the potential energy savings, every house in the country ought to be double glazed," he said.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the typical house loses around 18% of its heat through the windows. Replacing single glazing with Energy Saving Recommended double glazed windows would lead to a reduction of around 720 kilograms of carbon dioxide every year, as well as an annual saving of £135.
"People aren't going to change their habits just to save the environment," Clarke said. "They need to see the benefits for themselves."
He added: "There is a perception that eco-designed homes are newbuilds, with a lot of hi-tech modern features. But all homes need to become eco-homes if we are to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Kyoto Protocol.
"Just think how much energy and money – when it comes to fuel bills – can be saved with roof insulation and double glazing alone."
As part of an effort to comply with the Kyoto bill, which aims to cut greenhouse gas levels worldwide, the government recently announced its Warm Homes, Greener Homes strategy, under which it hopes emissions from the country's homes should be reduced by 29% by 2020.
Ombudsman counters false membership claims
03 September 2010
The recently launched Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS) has introduced a verification scheme following a spate of false membership claims.
According to reports, a number of installers – including several major brands – have been accused of claiming to be registered on the programme, which aims to provide protection for homeowners purchasing double glazing from its members.
In response, DGCOS has set up a telephone line for consumers to verify the membership of any company claiming to be part of the scheme.
Since its launch in January, DGCOS has signed up around 350 installers, with almost 40% of applicants refused for failing to meet its registration criteria. Each prospective member is expected to pass a 12-point vetting procedure which examines their contracts, health and safety records and public liability insurance, as well as providing ten references from work completed in the past year.
Tony Pickup, founder of DGCOS, said: “A few rogue traders have given the rest of the window industry a bad reputation, and DGCOS aims to restore confidence in the industry.
“We are very disappointed that companies have been falsely claiming to be members of the scheme, though it is a veiled compliment as they clearly must think highly of DGCOS and what it stands for. Now, anyone masquerading as a member can be easily identified by a member of the public.”
By 2013, the DGOS has said it aims to include 14,000 members – around 18% of the estimated 130,000 installers currently operating. The UK double glazing industry is valued at £4.65 billion, and was responsible for 22,000 complaints to trading standards last year alone.
If you'd like to verify a member of DGCOS, please call 0844 324 9090.
GGF says dispute numbers are 'impressive'
01 September 2010
The Glass & Glazing Federation (GGF) has said that it received just 16 complaints by homeowners against its members in July, bringing its total to an 'impressive' 87 for the year so far.
In a recently published report Nigel Rees, the organisation's chief executive, said that GGF members are responsible for up to 300,000 installations per year, with these figures suggesting that only '0.05% of installations result in a complaint.'
“That is extremely impressive,” he said.
In addition, the report also showed that, on average, it takes the GGF less than a month for any disputes to be resolved – a reassuring figure for homeowners in an industry often associated with long-winded and arduous complaints cases.
“Our unrivalled dispute resolution procedure ensures that when a customer does have cause for complaint, it is dealt with swiftly and satisfactorily,” said Rees.
“Thanks to a rigid vetting procedure of new members, and a comprehensive code of practice, people can improve their homes with confidence when buying the services of GGF members.”
The GGF, which runs the both Window Energy Ratings and FENSA schemes, is the UK's largest trade association for the glazing and windows sector, representing over 60% of the total home improvement industry by turnover.
Edinburgh backs double glazing for listed sites
01 September 2010
Listed buildings in Scotland could soon be permitted to have double glazing installed after the leader of Edinburgh council backed plans to overturn an existing ban.
Currently, the ban prevents double glazing in all A and B-listed buildings because of the "loss of the original fabric" it could cause, as well as its impact on their historic character. This now may be set to change after council leader Jenny Dawe agreed to support a proposal to reverse the law earlier this month.
This news follows a trial of Georgian tenements in the city, which were fitted with new “slim cavity” double glazing a year ago. These ultra-thin units fit into most existing glazing openings, and are virtually unnoticeable.
After the successful completion of the scheme, the council has proposed for slim cavity glazing to be allowed in A and B-listed buildings - as long as the original windows are broken or no longer exist.
Councillor Jim Lowrie, Edinburgh's planning leader, described the trial as showing that “a significant reduction” in the amount of heat lost can be achieved “without altering the appearance of the building to the naked eye”.
"These windows can help reduce household bills, cut carbon dioxide emissions and ensure these historically important buildings maintain their natural elegance," he added.
In a statement, Councillor Dawe explained that while the the councils emphasis will continue to be on the repair and refurbishment of original windows in listed buildings, in some circumstances slim cavity double glazing could now be fitted.
"This is an excellent example of the commitment of the council and our partners to ensuring that we reduce CO2 emissions whilst protecting the special character of our historic buildings," she said.
Aspen Windows set for closure
31 August 2010
Norfolk-based double glazing firm Aspen Windows has announced that it is to close down as the economic downturn continues to bite hard in the construction industry.
The company, located 10 miles outside Norwich, was formed in 1992 by former Anglian Windows founder George Williams and employed 380 staff with sales of £22 million at its peak. Since then, its workforce has shrunk to around 100, all of which are now at risk of redundancy.
The company's Herefordshire-based owner, the Rehau Group, said it hopes to redeploy some of the workers. Current doubled glazing orders will be completed, but no new ones will be taken, it added.
In an interview with the Eastern Daily Press Clive Ware, HR director at Rehau, said the current state of the economy had made the closure inevitable.
“It is not a step we wanted to take and we tried to survive for several months, but we have been seriously hit by the economic climate. Despite great effort made by the company and all the staff, the construction industry is a very difficult place to be in at present,” he said.
“It will be a graduated shutdown and we are fulfilling all the contracts we have at the moment, but not taking any new orders on board.
“We are looking to possibly redeploy staff as part of the group, and helping staff with their CVs to get other jobs, and working with the job centre.
“However, staff have been informed that they have been placed in danger of being made redundant. There are between 90 and 100 staff at the site in Lenwade and a handful at an office in Eastbourne on the south coast.”
Double glazing sector a “real mixed bag”, says analyst
27 August 2010
A new report by market analyst Plimsoll has described the UK's top 999 window and door firms
as ‘a real mixed bag of company performance’.
According to the research, 191 companies are described as ‘in trouble’, 377 are ‘powering ahead’ while a further 215 are set to be taken over as new wave of consolidation moves through the industry.
David Pattison, author of the report, titled Plimsoll Analysis – Windows & Doors, said: “Having rated 191 struggling companies as ‘danger’ and given 377 others a ‘strong’ rating, I am surprised at the gulf in performance in the market. Despite all other factors, success still comes down to how well a company is run.”
If the current climate is to remain the same, Pattison went on to predict a raft of takeovers, with many smaller or under-performing firms likely to be snapped by larger rivals.
“The market, in the current economic climate, cannot support this many companies. There has to be further, more radical consolidation in the market. Strong companies will be buying up distressed competitors in the next 12 months.”
The report follows a study in July that identified 112 companies in the industry as “Zombie” businesses – companies that are performing so badly that they now exist merely to pay off their debts and survive.
“These companies are in a state, posting growing losses and, despite the obvious freeze in the credit markets, increasing their debts,” said Pattison.
“They are Zombie businesses with debts at an average of 52% of turnover – they exist to service their out of control liabilities. Many are also using their suppliers to finance their growing losses, taking twice as long as to pay their bills as the industry average of 48 days”
New regulations will push double glazing costs up 15%, says installer
20 August 2010
Changes to building regulations coming into effect from 1st October 2010 will send the cost of investing in double glazing up by around 15%, one installation firm has said.
On September 2, Hazlemere Windows predicted a surge in demand for double glazing due the newly-revised Part L of the of the Building Regulations, which requires all new double glazing units to meet higher heat installation standards.
Each window will now require either at least a C rating through the WindowEnergy Ratings scheme, or a U-value of 1.6. Doors will need to achieve a U-value of 1.8.
As a result, units designed to meet this standard will cost more to manufacture, which the company said will mean they will be “more expensive for the consumer”.
“Many of our customers are keen to do their bit for the environment but with the economy in its current state it’s difficult to justify extra spending,” said Hazlemere'sMark Austin.
“So the prospect of tax paying homeowners shelling out more money to satisfy the new building regulations to help the Government meet its carbon emission reduction targets is not exactly popular.”
However, there is some confusion in the industry about the extent that which companies will conform to the new regulations. Some commentators have questioned the amount of small fabricators that have prepared for the changes, with Richard Bate, Technical Director of Build Check, claiming that at the current rate it will take over nine years for every fabricator to attain its ratings.
Non energy-efficient homes on the slide
22 July 2010
There has been a slight drop in the number of the UK's most energy inefficient homes, a new study by the Energy Saving Trust has said.
According to the report, 17% of properties held energy performance certificates in the F or G bands in 2008, down from 22% two years earlier.
Of these, the majority could be improved significantly with double or secondary glazing, loft insulation and new boilers, costing on average less than £3,000.
However, the study showed that around 15% of the least efficient homes would need £5,000 or more to lift them out of the bottom rating. In the private rented sector, these properties accounted for 33% of the properties in the lowest energy efficiency categories.
"On the whole our study is good news,” said spokesman David Weatherall. “Most F and G-rated homes can be improved very cost effectively, for less than £3,000. That's less than 2% of the sale prices of the average UK home."
He added: "For anyone about to sell their home with an old boiler or lacking full loft and cavity wall insulation, we'd strongly advise you not to take the risk of getting a very poor energy rating and potentially a lower sale price.”
This week, it emerged that the government is considering raising stamp duty (link to other story?) on all homes with an F or G rating as part of its proposed £90 billion Green Deal scheme.
Green building costs 'not prohibitive'
21 July 2010
The cost of carrying out home improvements that can benefit the environment and lower household bills is not as expensive as it once was, one commentator has said.
Michael Holmes, editor-in-chief of Real Homes magazine and presenter of Channel 5's I Own Britain's Best Home, said there was a misconception in the outlay needed to fit energy saving measures.
While fitting new windows are traditionally one of the more expensive, Holmes explained that secondary glazing was a more affordable alternative to double glazing, which on average costs in the region of £2,000 per household.
“A whole house can be done for as little as £700, with savings of around 40% to your energy bill each year,” he said.
He added that there are also a number of other "simple and inexpensive" measures that can make a big difference to both quality of life and the wider community.
"Effective roof insulation" could provide 15 to 20% savings on an energy bill per year – enough to pay for itself within two or three years – while a new boiler and using leftover insulation materials to wrap around pipes and water tanks could also help households cut costs further.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, 22 % of England's homes – around 3.8 million – were in the bottom two bands for energy performance - F and G - in 2008.
Could double glazing cut your stamp duty?
18 July 2010
Plans being considered by the government could see home buyers pay thousands more in stamp duty if their property fails to meet strict new energy efficiency criteria.
The proposals, which aim to help the UK dramatically cut its greenhouse gas emissions, will target homes leaking energy through draughty windows, bad insulation and old boilers. Initially 3.8 million homes will be eligible, all of which hold a rating below band E for efficiency, although this is expected to be widened significantly after the program's launch.
Since October, every property built, sold or rented out has required an energy performance certificate, which are graded from A-G.
If successful, the new legislation would come into effect in 2012 as part of the £90 billion Green Deal scheme, in which families will be offered ‘free’ green makeovers funded by local councils and businesses – including double glazing and new insulation – to help them lower their energy bills and reduce emissions. Those that refuse will be eligible for the stamp duty penalty of around 0.5%, while a 0.5% percent rebate will be available to participants who manage to improve their property's efficiency rating.
Last year, the government proposed an outright ban on the sale of houses with an F or G rating until their efficiency had been improved, an idea that was widely criticised as it could trap those who wished to sell but could not afford the cost of upgrading.
Double Glazing Companies - your ratings needed!
13 July 2010
We're trialling a new section on the site - company ratings!
Feel free to head over, and let us your know thoughts and also your experiences with companies - good AND bad!
Buckingham Palace set for double glazing?
11 July 2010
The Queen's official London residence is due to be fitted with double glazing as the Royal Family looks to cut energy costs and boost their green credentials, according to reports.
With the financial climate leading to belt tightening all round, people up and down the country are looking at ways to increase their energy efficiency. But for the Royals, who last month had their civil list payments frozen in the Emergency Budget, there might be a little more incentive than most.
Last year, Buckingham Palace was given the worst possible score in an energy survey, which placed at the top of London's 12 most environmentally damaging buildings. Using thermal imaging technology, the study showed heat escaping through its a huge number of single glazed windows, alongside the roof and even cracks in the walls.
At the time, a member of the surveying team said: “So much energy is being lost through the windows… It appears the building is better at heating the air outside, than inside.”
Of course, this translates to quite a financial outlay. In 2008, the Buckingham Palace spent £2.2 million on utility bills alone.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the typical house loses around 18% of its heat through the windows and replacing single glazing with Energy Saving Recommended double glazed windows would save around £135 a year.
Doing the same for Buckingham Palace, with its 775 rooms including 19 state rooms, 78 bathrooms, 92 offices, 52 royal and guest bedrooms and 188 staff quarters, would make a significantly larger dent in its heating bill, it added.
However, installing new windows in historic buildings isn't without its pitfalls. Perhaps the Palace may want to read our guide on Double glazing and listed buildings
before jumping straight in. It's always good to be prepared, after all.
Home Improvement Building Company Shuts In A Hurry!
11 July 2010
Just picked this up from glasstalk
Lets hear your comments!
FAMILIES in Lancashire have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket and living in wrecked homes after a Blackpool building company left town in a hurry.
Luxury home extension firm Space4Living, which builds kitchens, conservatories and orangeries, packed up and shipped out of their Marton showroom – allegedly in the dead of night.
Furious homeowners contacted The Gazette to say they had been left up to £30,000 out of pocket because of the company leaving town.
Many have also been left with half-built extensions – with workmen leaving pipes exposed and conservatories without roofs or walls.
Trading Standards and police are now investigating Space4Living which advertised on its website it was the “North West’s premier home extension company”.
The firm’s now empty Brinwell Road showroom bears a sign in which directors claim the premises are closed for refurbishment.
Have you been affected by Space 4Living’s closure? Contact newsdesk on (01253) 361865
However, when The Blackpool Gazette visited the site, the landlord, who did not wish to be named, said the showroom was not being refurbished and Space4Living had left the site.
He said: “Space4Living owners left overnight, and stripped the shop of assets, and the police arrived to see if these items had been taken illegally.
“We have had many inquiries from members of the public and we are obviously very sympathetic towards those who have lost money.”
Customers Ruth and Ian Peri said their home in Fulwood, Preston, had been left in ruins after paying out almost £30,000 to Space4Living.
Mrs Peri said: “I paid Space4Living an £8,000 deposit for an orangery, £4,000 for the kitchen, and another £19,000 for some of the work they have done. All I’ve got for it is a ground floor set down for the orangery and some steel work completed.
“There are exposed pipes in the bathroom, which don’t work, broken gutters and dismantled floor pipes, as well as a skip which I will have to pay £150 to be removed.”
Tesco launch £9,999 flat-pack 'house'
08 July 2010
Britain's most omnipresent retailer has expanded its product range even further with a series of new self-assembly log cabin style residences, complete with double glazing.
Customers can now order the five room Finnlife structures from Tesco's website for £9,999 – earning themselves a hefty 19,998 Clubcard points in the process.
The cabin, made from Scandinavian whitewood, uses 44mm tongue and groove planks to create a space measuring 32ft by 16ft 10ins. It includes eight double glazed windows, French doors and a felt shingle roof, plus a terraced decking area.
Tesco says: "At £9,999, we don't expect our Tesco Direct log cabin to be an impulse purchase but it is certainly less hassle and less costly than moving house or building an extension.
But, unfortunately for those looking for a bargain-priced home, the company are keen to state that the building isn't suitable as a permanent dwelling. Instead, it suggests it could be used for “anything from an office or a gym to a lounging area and playroom."
Prospective owners are also warned that they may need planning permission and building approval before constructing their new hideaway, which needs foundations of concrete or compressed gravel.
It's also likely to be a little trickier to put together than the average Ikea flat-pack, despite the manufacturer's claim that “No specialist skills are required”.
“Anyone can build a Finnlife log cabin although some tasks may require more than one pair of hands,” it says, before adding ominously that “construction times will vary depending on your skills and the number of people helping you.”
How much energy will I save with double glazing?
20 June 2010
Installing double glazing can be an excellent way to save energy – and therefore money. But exactly how much can you knock off your annual heating bill, and is it enough to justify the outlay?
With the government aiming for a 20% improvement in energy efficiency in every household, it makes sense to look to double glazing as a way to cut your carbon footprint, especially as according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), around 18% of heat is lost through the windows in an average home each year – while others put the figure at closer to 25%.
Fitting double glazing can reduce this significantly. With double A rated windows (look out for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo and BFRC energy label if you're unsure), the EST estimates that it leads to a reduction of around 720 kilograms of carbon dioxide annually – a small but not inconsiderable slice of the average UK carbon footprint of 11.3 tonnes per year.
So what does this translate to in terms of costs? Again, the EST is probably the most reputable source for this figure, giving the average saving at around £135 per year, compared to £85 for secondary glazing. With an average cost of around £2,000, that's about 20 years before they pay for themselves – around the amount of time standard uPVC windows are expected to last.
Going by these figures, it's roughly break even. However, there's a few more considerations – although double glazing will take a long time to pay back purely through energy savings, your house will be warmer (which could cut your heating bill), better insulated from noise and with a higher resale value. All food for thought...
Insurer predicts smashing World Cup
19 June 2010
Double glazing fitters could be an unexpected beneficiary of the World Cup in South Africa, with insurance firm Aviva reporting that the previous tournament in 2006 led to a 25% increase in claims for smashed windows.
The figures, compared to a normal summer, showed that most breakages came when rogue footballs shattered greenhouses, conservatories, sheds and house windows, with the average cost of each claim at around £600. Unsurprisingly, children were the main – but far from exclusive – culprits.
But according to Aviva, formally known as Norwich Union, it's not just amateur footballers whose shooting skills leave a little to be desired. During last year's Ashes series, cricket fans contributed to a 30% increase in broken glass claims with balls hitting windows rather than wickets.
However, the insurer hinted that many of these claims will be will be refused unless homeowners pay £30 a year extra for additional cover against accidental damage – a situation unlikely to endear it to the parents of many budding sportsman.
Rob Townend, director of property claims at Aviva, said: "It's great that famous sporting events inspire youngsters - and possibly some overenthusiastic parents - to get out in the garden and knock a few balls around, but it might be as well to direct those games of footie, tennis or cricket away from your home and towards the end of the garden or perhaps a local park."
Can I get a grant for my double glazing?
18 June 2010
With money tight for many households right now, expensive home improvements can seem out of reach, no matter how much more energy efficient they are in the long run. The good news is that grants for double glazing are available, although they will largely depend on your age, local authority and whether you claim benefits or are disabled.
A good place to start is with your local council. Many offer Home Repair Assistance Grants for home improvements, but be aware that these are usually restricted to those on means tested benefits such as Housing Benefit
and Income Support
Even then, it's traditionally been quite unlikely for councils to pay for double glazing, but it really does rest on the strength of your case. If you can prove that the work is the best option for your home – for example if your windows need replacing anyway or noise pollution is a real issue– then you're in with a good chance.
If you're letting out your property, things can be a little easier, especially if your tenant is on benefits or over 60. Again, you'll need to get in touch with your council to find out what's available – to find your local authority's details enter your postcode in the DirectGov website
The Energy Saving Trust
is another route, but again, the same criteria will usually apply. If saving energy is a priority, you will usually be pointed towards loft or cavity wall insulation instead, although through their Green Communities
scheme, residents are being encouraged to band together in order to receive bulk discounts from suppliers – not strictly a grant, but a good option nonetheless for those falling outside the funding net.
It's worth noting that any potential double glazing grants will have a long waiting list, so be prepared to do some work in following up your application. Time spent on hold may not be fun, but it'll be worth it in the long run.
DIY spending on the up
16 June 2010
A new study by the Halifax has shown that British homeowners are spending an average of over £1,000 more on DIY this year than they did in 2009.
With the housing market remaining subdued, the report says that more than half of all home-owners (56%) are choosing to carry out some form of improvements on their property. And despite the downturn, they are spending more – with an average total spend of £6,362 over the last 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, the single most expensive improvement was replacing the kitchen, at an average cost of £6,609, followed by installing new windows or double glazing at £3,646 and putting in a new bathroom at £3,396.
The research shows that people that have lived in their house between three and four years had the highest spend on home improvements (£9,481), while amongst those people that have lived in their property for over 10 years had the lowest spend (£5,299).
Lloyds Banking Group commercial director Stephen Noakes said: "We have always enjoyed DIY and home improvements remain high on the list. Our research shows that more and more home owners are picking up their brushes and paint and using their creativity to improver their surroundings, particularly in this market where we are seeing less house purchases."
What does FENSA registration mean?
08 June 2010
If you're new to the world of of double glazing or conservatories, the amount of acronyms and abbreviations when it comes to regulations can seem dazzling. Here we take a look at one of the most common, FENSA.
stands for the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme, and was founded in 2002 by the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) and other industry bodies – with encouragement from the government – to ensure compliance with new building regulations covering all replacement glazing in houses in England and Wales.
As the names suggests, FENSA is a self-certifying scheme, meaning that once registered, installers can certify the work themselves to say it complies with building regulations. To obtain FENSA registration, each company has a sample of work checked by an appointed inspector.
So, what does this mean for the consumer? In practice, once your windows have been fitted, FENSA will inform your local authority and issue a you a certificate confirming that the installer self certifies compliance. In short, that's pretty much it.
Before signing a contract, it's always a good idea to ask any company whether they can self-certify, either by FENSA or the similar Certass scheme. If they can't, an application for approval will need to be made to your local authority, which will result in extra charges.
It's important to remember FENSA registration isn't a mark of quality work, nor does it give any financial guarantees against rogue traders or a faulty installation. Even so, the ability to self-certify is very useful, and common among all but the smallest of outfits.
What does FENSA registration mean?
08 June 2010
If you're new to the world of of double glazing or conservatories, the amount of acronyms and abbreviations when it comes to regulations can seem dazzling. Here we take a look at one of the most common, FENSA.
stands for the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme, and was founded in 2002 by the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) and other industry bodies – with encouragement from the government – to ensure compliance with new building regulations covering all replacement glazing in houses in England and Wales.
As the names suggests, FENSA is a self-certifying scheme, meaning that once registered, installers can certify the work themselves to say it complies with building regulations. To obtain FENSA registration, each company has a sample of work checked by an appointed inspector.
So, what does this mean for the consumer? In practice, once your windows have been fitted, FENSA will inform your local authority and issue a you a certificate confirming that the installer self certifies compliance. In short, that's pretty much it.
Before signing a contract, it's always a good idea to ask any company whether they can self-certify, either by FENSA or the similar Certass scheme
. If they can't, an application for approval will need to be made to your local authority, which will result in extra charges.
It's important to remember FENSA registration isn't a mark of quality work, nor does it give any financial guarantees against rogue traders or a faulty installation. Even so, the ability to self-certify is very useful, and common among all but the smallest of outfits.
Solar panel sellers slammed in Which?
04 June 2010
Just Picked this up from this post
: (thanks LookingForAdvice!)
Been a topic which has needed discussion for a while now, let us know what your opinions are!
Solar panel sellers slammed in Which? probe10 out of 14 solar water heating firms misled us
25 April 2010
Ten out of 14 companies selling solar water heating systems exaggerated potential savings to consumers during an undercover sting carried out by Which?.
During the investigation, household name Everest
potentially broke the law and has admitted that its representative made claims that they knew to be false during the sales pitch.
For more solar water heating system buying advice and to watch an undercover video clip of a solar energy salesman in action, see our online guide to buying solar panels.
Everest quoted a 43% cut in the total gas bill and claimed a saving of £35,000 over 20 years. Another national company, Bournemouth-based Ideal Solar Energy claimed its solar water heating system would halve the gas bill, saving the customer around £600 a year.
Ideal also misquoted energy regulator Ofgem to talk up savings, claiming that 70% of a home’s gas costs go on hot water and 30% on heating – Ofgem says that it’s actually the other way round. Our online guide to buying solar panels includes a video of the Ideal Solar Energy salesman in action.
These claims are wildly optimistic. A highly experienced solar water heating expert calculated that the reduction on the overall gas bill would be closer to 10% - a saving of about £55 a year at current gas prices.
Senior Trading Standards officer Neil McLoughlin said it’s an offence for companies to make misleading or false statements that cause you to buy a product. He added: ‘The precise nature of Everest’s figure makes the claim even more misleading as it appeared to have been carefully calculated and would cause consumers to place undue reliance on its accuracy.’
Solar water heating sales tactics
Both companies also used apparently unfair sales tactics. Everest slashed an already high quote of over £11,500 (about three times the lowest quote) to a still-high £8,500 if we signed up there and then.
Ideal dropped its price from £8,690 to £6,520. The next day it followed up with a phone call offering a new price of £5,860 if a £400 deposit (coming down to £250) was paid before the end of the day.
Mr McLoughlin said: ‘These practices deprives people of the time needed to make an informed choice.’
Solar water heating companies
While these two companies gave the most cause for concern, Which? received poor service and exaggerated claims of performance from nearly all 14 firms. One suggested we’d make our money back in ‘six to eight years’ on a system costing £5,200. Even with income from the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), pay-back times are likely to be double this.
Not one company identified all the important technical challenges before issuing a quotation, according to Which?’s solar expert.
Just one company – Southern Solar (0845 456 9474) – was worthy of mention for its helpful and sensible approach.
Solar selling complaints
In the last three years, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has demanded that three particularly notorious companies – Smart Energy (UK) Ltd, Solar Technik Ltd (not to be confused with an unconnected company of the same name formed on 23 March 2010), which have both gone bust, and Ultimate Energy which has been dissolved – should stop misleading their customers.
The OFT received around 1,000 complaints about the sector last year, which Which? thinks is far too high for an industry with under 100,000 installations in UK homes. Holiday insurers, damp-proofers and landlords attracted a similar number of complaints last year, but are used by a far greater number of people in the UK.
Cowboy solar sellers
Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, said: 'Most of the firms in our investigation behaved like true cowboys - they promised huge savings that bore no relation to reality, and some really piled pressure on the homeowner to sign up immediately or risk losing a one off "special offer".
'The solar industry is too important to our long-term energy needs for things to drag on like this. It needs to clean up its act, and if it won’t, the OFT and the government will have to step in.'
Solar panel buying advice
For more on solar water heating systems and other renewable technologies, see the Which? guides to buying solar panels and home heating systems.
Double glazing gets ombudsman scheme
03 June 2010
Homeowners could receive extra protection from unscrupulous or incompetent traders following the launch of a new ombudsman service for the double glazing and conservatory industry.
The Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS) was officially unveiled earlier this month following four years of research and a two-year pilot project. All members of the initiative will be expected to pass a 12-point vetting procedure examining their contracts, health and safety records and public liability insurance in case jobs go wrong. Each applicant will also have to provide ten references from work completed in the past year.
In return, consumers will receive benefits including insurance on deposits, a 10 year guarantee on the quality of workmanship and access to a compensation fund. Traders will also have some protection against customers who withhold payment or make unfounded complaints.
In an interview with the Independent newspaper, founding director Tony Pickup said that the scheme will help reputable builders and companies 'officially differentiate themselves' from unqualified rogue traders.
Currently, the organisation has 36 members with a further 126 still awaiting approval. By 2013, the DGOS aims to include 14,000 – around 18% of the estimated 130,000 installers currently operating. The UK double glazing industry is valued at £4.65 billion, and was responsible for 22,000 complaints to trading standards last year alone.
Ten ways to avoid a double glazing cowboy
01 June 2010
Double glazing firms don't have the greatest reputation at the best of times. Following on from our Top 10 tips for choosing double glazing
, here are a few ways you can avoid having your fingers burned.
1. Go by word of mouth.
Friends, relatives, neighbours – all are good sources for recommendations. If you're still stuck, an established firm with a good local presence is probably your best bet.
2. Ask for a contract.
A scribbled, handwritten note isn't enough, so make sure it's on headed paper and that you keep multiple copies.
3. Don't be pressured.
If you're getting an aggressive sales pitch, the chances are the company isn't that concerned with its levels of service. Politely and firmly say 'No'.
4. Don't be doorstepped.
Unsolicited visits from sales people should spell trouble. Reputable installers don't need to drum up trade this way, so look elsewhere.
5. Know what you want.
If you do your research (link to last guide?), you'll be prepared to ask the right questions and, just as importantly, spot the wrong answers.
6. Be wary of discounts for cash.
It might be tempting, but you're passing up on proof of payment. In terms of protection, your credit card may be the best bet.
7. Be a detective.
Companies House lets you perform an online check of businesses, so if you think something's up, get digging.
8. Check the lists.
Some councils or consumer groups produce 'reputable traders' lists. Another great source if you can't get personal recommendations.
9. See for yourself.
Don't be afraid to ask to see previous work, or read some references from previous clients.
10. Trust your instinct.
If you're in doubt, it has to said that you're probably right. After all, you're leaving them in charge of your most valuable possession – your home.
Top 10 tips for choosing double glazing
26 May 2010
Choosing the right double glazing isn't easy. Before you even start gathering quotes, there's a whole bunch of research to be done, from the benefits of wood finish versus PVCu to internal and external beading. Here's a few tips to help keep those headaches to a minimum.
1. First of all, make sure you've got the right permissions.
If you live in a listed building or an area with planning restrictions, you'll need to check with your local authority before you start sifting through the catalogues.
2. As with most major decisions, be prepared for some compromise
. PVCu windows may be substantially cheaper than those with wooden frames, but also be aware that they are usually a lot wider around the borders – meaning you could lose out on a lot of incoming light.
3. A wood finish also has its drawbacks.
The frames will need be painted every few years, which is an expense you should factor in to your estimate.
4. Choose a style in keeping with your property.
Take a walk around your area and see how different types of windows look off the page.
5. Don't feel restricted to what you see in the showroom.
Plenty of firms offer bespoke design to help you bring your unique idea to life – all at a price, of course.
6. Make sure to ask about locks and other security features.
Again, there are plenty of choices to be made, from the usual espagnolette multi-point type locking to security chains and more traditional bolt and key locks.
7. There's not much too choose between internal and external beading.
Some say having beading on the inside is more secure as it can't be accessed by any prospective intruders, but most windows will have this protected with security tape.
8. Pay attention to proportion.
Newer replacement windows are more likely to have smaller areas of glass for sections that don't open, leaving a bigger space for the sash itself. In older buildings, it's more usual for both to be roughly the same size.
9. When it comes to gaskets, the choice is black or white.
Gaskets, or the seal around the window that is almost hidden when shut, usually come in two colours. Black is used by most installers as standard, but white is often best for PVC frames.
10. Consider your neighbours.
If your neighbour has had, or is planning to have, new windows fitted, agreeing on a similar design can work wonders for both properties.
Double glazing and listed buildings - what's the deal?
30 April 2010
For many owners of a listed building, getting planning permission for green, energy efficient double glazing can be a daunting task. So what are the chances – if any – of getting rid of draughty rooms and condensation once and for all?
First of all, it's worth saying that there's no outright law against fitting double glazed windows into listed buildings. Instead, it's down to your local authority to grant permission, which they will decide on a case by case basis. As bureaucratic as it might sound, don't be tempted to skip your application as all unauthorised works on your listed home are a criminal offence, with scope for a custodial sentence. Put simply, there's a chance – although it's admittedly small – that you could go to jail.
Traditionally though, many of those that have made an application have been disappointed. There's a real culture of minimal intervention when it comes to conservation in this country, meaning that in practice it's difficult to get permission to replace anything that's less than absolutely essential. Until recently, this was pretty much accepted when it came to double glazing, especially as many thick uPVC products did little to improve a listed building's appearance.
However, technology has come on a long way over the past few years. Ultra-thin double glazing units are now available that fit into most existing single glazing openings and not be noticed. Yet even these have been rejected in large numbers by local authorities despite their green credentials – replacing one square metre of single glazing with low-E double glazing can save around 90kg of carbon dioxide emissions per year by cutting down on heat loss.
In spite of this, there's still some hope. In late March, a new government policy paper, Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment (PPS5)was released. This document puts a much greater emphasis on protecting the environment and making historic buildings less environmentally damaging. At the moment the PPS5 just serves as a guide, and doesn’t provide much information about its practical application. Yet it does make clear that the drive for sustainability must be balanced against the need to preserve the integrity of historic buildings. It will take some time before it becomes clear if this translates into more planning permissions being granted, but for now, it's a start.
26 March 2010
As the pressure increases for us all to be carbon neutral and save heat in our homes one question on a lot of people’s lips is; Will the government give me a grant to install double glazing? There are grants to insulate your loft and cavity wall insulation but is there something similar for double glazing?
Double glazing can cut heat loss through windows by 50%. It works by trapping air between two panes of glass creating an insulating barrier that reduces heat loss, noise and condensation. Fitting double glazing can save around £110 a year on your heating bills.
The government does indeed provide grants for home improvements but your eligibility for a grant will depend on a number of factors, such as your age, local authority, whether you claim benefits and so on. These grants are available through your local authority and so vary from region to region. In general though if you are on benefits you are probably eligible for a degree of help towards costs.
You can also apply for a Home Repair Assistance grant, which you can apply for through your local council, gives funding towards the cost of materials required to carry out repairs, improvements or adaptations to your home. This won’t cover the full cost of installing double glazing but it will go some way towards helping you to pay for it. It can also be difficult to get hold of this money as there are often long council waiting lists for these grants and you may have to be persistent in pursuing your application.
If you are over 60 or have a disability you can approach Care and Repair. Care and Repair is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation which can help you apply for grants in various local areas. Care & Repair gives you guidance, can help you with the grant paperwork and can also organise installation quotes, as well as oversee the work to ensure it is done properly.
Thinking Positive: FixMyStreet.com and the Man Who Applied for Planning Permission to Demolish Parliament
19 January 2010
“I think it would make a good nature reserve or even a landfill site”, said Tony Hickson, after he applied for planning permission to turn the houses of parliament into a nature reserve, complete with duck pond and duck hotel.
Tony, a stand up comic, pulled his stunt last year, when public anger over MPs creaming the system was at its height.
Tony conveyed many people’s frustration in a funny way, but obviously it was to no end beyond a laugh.
I have recently discovered this website; FixMyStreet.com
, and think it is a stunning example of how the internet can allow people not just to air their frustrations, but to pass them on to those responsible.
The site allows you to report issues in your area to the council, quickly and easily. Sure, the majority of complaints might appear trivial, but they are those things that, when they are not sorted, really nag the heart out of a place; the things that career savvy politicians overlook as inconsequential but which really, actually matter to how people feel about where they live.
And of course, once the complaint is out in the open, the responsible council is presented with the perfect opportunity to convey how great they are; fix the issue quickly, report back to the site’s users, and - hey presto! – pretty good free advertising.
1 Million Dodgy DIY Guides Recalled in the States
11 January 2010
We don’t often follow what’s going on over in the states, but yesterday we came across a story that made us perk up our ears.
Over 1 million DIY manuals from one of Time Warner’s companies have been recalled, after the US Consumer Product Safety Commission found that some of the instructions in the books were incorrect, and that home owners who followed the wiring diagrams were in danger of giving themselves electric shocks or starting a fire.
Apparently no injuries or accidents have been directly linked to the incorrect information printed in these books, though the company admits that it has been printing and reprinting the incorrect, and potentially dangerous, information, since 1975.
Time has also refused to make public exactly which information in the books was wrong, simply saying that the books “contain errors in the technical diagrams and wiring instructions that could lead consumers to incorrectly install or repair electrical wiring.”
This suggests to us that the mistakes were at the schoolboy end of the spectrum, rather than something more easy to overlook (why else would they refuse to point out their own mistakes?) – and we imagine that both professional tradesmen and amateur DIYers are now closely studying the guides, to see if they can spot Time’s errors for themselves.
Whilst people in the UK are not apparently affected by this alert, the lack of editorial control and diligence which allowed for at least 1 million dodgy books to go into circulation is of concern, and the potential danger as a result of these mistakes highlights the reliance that homeowners undertaking DIY projects have on their sources of information.
With the internet now used as the first point of call for people undertaking everything from A levels to rewiring projects, perhaps there is a question as to whether people can have the same confidence and trust in information they find online as they can in printed manuals, which at the very least should have gone through an editor (even if the occasional blooper, such as in Time’s case, slips through).
The World Wide Web, as its name suggests, assembles information from all over the world, leaving it up to the reader to distinguish whether the information they are reading is relevant to them.
In the past, differences between the UK and other EU countries on cable colours (which have been “harmonised” over the last five years, click here for more
) is one example of where information relevant to someone in England wouldn’t be of use to someone in another country, even though both readers may come to the same piece of information through the local version of Google. This is just one potential area where misunderstanding may arise.
DIY is, of course, a great way to save money and, for many people, an enjoyable hobby. In the majority of cases there is no reason why people can’t approach a project in their house with full confidence that they will be able to complete the task safely and to a good standard.
However, past experience is the key – if you are doing something for the first time get advice, and then check that advice once, twice or as many times as you need to feel that you are working from the soundest information available.
Oh, and on the off chance you collect American DIY guides, or are a visitor to the forum
from across the pond, here is a list of the recalled guides:
"Sunset Basic Home Repairs"
"Sunset Complete Home Wiring"
"Sunset Complete Patio Book"
(2006, 1998, 1990)
"Sunset Home Repair Handbook"
"Sunset Water Gardens"
"Sunset You Can Build: Wiring"
"AmeriSpec Home Repair Handbook"
"Lowe"s Complete Home Improvement and Repair"
Boiler Scrappage Scheme Expected to Feature in PBR Tomorrow
08 December 2009
Alistair Darling is likely to include a scrappage scheme for boilers in his Pre-Budget Report tomorrow, the 9th of December.
The scrappage scheme, which is pushed under the name “Reheat Britain”, aims to both stimulate an industry hit hard by the recession, and also help to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock – which is still the primary contributor to Co2 emissions in this country.
It is expected that the scheme will take the form of a £300 discount for homeowners who are replacing old, inefficient models, for new greener ones.
An Early Day Motion (EDM), which has been signed by 53 MPS (29 Labour, 2 Tory), reads:
"That this House welcomes the Reheat Britain campaign for a boiler scrappage scheme that would support existing jobs for plumbers, builders and suppliers suffering during the recession as well as creating new green jobs and training places; notes that a household could save more than £200 a year in gas bills with a new boiler and that by replacing just some of the 4.5 million inefficient boilers, thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions could be saved every year as well as supporting British manufacturers; and calls on the government to support this scheme".
Police Call For Greater Accountability from Landlords
09 November 2009
Are you a landlord? If so, you are probably already aware of the increasing instances where tenants are using rental properties in order to use them to grow vast quantities of Cannabis. In Scotland, this industry is now worth more than the legal farming of vegetables, and is often being carried out by gangs from South East Asia.
These gangs can destroy properties with their ‘farming’ operations. I visited one property that had suffered this fate, in suburban Birmingham, and the floorboards throughout the house (including the stairs) had been ripped up, leaving several thousand pounds worth of damage.
The kits used by these gangsters can also pose a serious fire risk.
Now, in Scotland, Det Supt Alan Buchanan of Strathclyde Police, the man leading a Police operation to uncover cannabis growing factories north of the border, has made it clear that he expects landlords to take their responsibility as guardians of not just their own property, but the area that the property is in, more weightily.
Speaking to the BBC
, he said that “60% of property owners affected [by the growing of drugs in their properties] in Scotland have taken no form of identification, have taken cash in hand and couldn't tell the police who's in their house and what it's being used for.”
I would argue that most responsible landlords would not feel comfortable being in a position where they did not know who was living in their property, or what it was being used for.
The 60% figure quoted above shows that it is clearly this type of landlord who allows for the gangs’ criminal activity, and Buchanan ends his interview with the BBC by reminded landlords that if they are getting rent from these gangs then they are directly profiting from illegality and crime.
The Residential Landlords Associatio
n (RLA) has already picked up on this, stating that ‘Buchanan believes that landlords should be provided with more information on their responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that their tenants do not use their rented property for illegal purposes.’
Speaking as a landlord, I cannot imagine being a position where a property of mine would be left for long enough for it to be turned into a cannabis factory without me noticing. However, I personally know two people whom this has happened to. Both of these men are upstanding law abiders, who were at worse naive in not checking both their tenants, and also the upkeep of the property on a regular enough basis. Neither was being paid cash in hand.
There may be a small number of landlords who are aware that they are renting to either people who are in the country illegally (many of the caretakers of these factories are there to pay off people smuggling debts) or even to gangsters. However, the landlord is normally a victim of these criminals, not an accomplice.
Therefore, if there is a legislative attempt to force landlords to screen against the growing of drugs in their properties, they must be supported by the police – whose role should primarily be to give landlords the training and understanding they need to support their work in arresting these people, and reducing the damage that organised crime has on both individual properties and whole societies.
Bank Lending to the Public Down in the Q3
30 September 2009
Britain's banks have owned up to having reduced the amount of mortgages and other forms of credit
that they offer the public in the third quarter of the year.
This is despite them promising the Bank of England and the government that they would make more credit available to the public.
This comes despite the fact that there is a rise in demand for credit items such as mortgages.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that this lack of available credit is a key factor in the ability of the UK economy to rally in this time of credit uncertainty.
There are opposing statements from estate agents and banks. Estate agents are saying that the banks are scuppering deals by under valuing properties ensuring that sales cannot go through.
Banks on the other hand have said to the Bank of England that they have increased the number of loans being approved .
However figures from the Bank of England show that after several months of rises in new mortgage applications, August has seen a downfall of mortgages being approved.
The improved economic conditions have also meant default rates on mortgages have been less than expected in the third quarter. Another sign of the rallying economy however lenders are still not totally confident and expect them to rise slightly in the next three months.
This mixed message has had a mixture of reactions from people in the industry.
There is concern that banks are not doing enough to ensure that the market is back on track but the increase of lending over the last few months is seen as a hopeful sign.
In fact for the coming three months, lenders expect credit availability to improve for both households and firms and for mortgage lending, banks have cited a brighter economic outlook and rising house prices.
Will Homeowners Get Behind A Windows Scrappage Scheme?
16 September 2009
The Glass and Glazing Federation
have launched a petition calling on the government to introduce a scrappage scheme as subsidy to new double glazing in UK homes.
Just one week ago top executives from the car industry met with the Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, to call for an extension to the UK's car scrappage scheme beyond its current £300m budget.
But now it is the turn of an industry that has been largely left to fend for itself during the downturn to make its claim on the public purse.
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) have launched a petition through Downing Street's official website to ask for a scrappage scheme to be extended into the glazing industry.
The view that the double glazing and window industry is worthy of government support is not a new one. Indeed, since May of this year commentators from both inside and outside of this industry have noted that subsidy would not just support the employment base of the industry, but also promote the purchase of a product that would help the government meet its obligation to cut emissions; properly installed energy efficient double glazing.
A similar justification was given by motoring executives earlier this year, when they argued that a scrappage scheme for cars would provide the financial motivation people needed to trade older, less fuel efficient and more polluting vehicals for newer ones.
The implementation of a fully fledge scrappage scheme for the double glazing industry would certainly show a deeper commitment to helping homeowners lower their property's carbon footprint than news of low interest loans for homes that make energy efficient home improvements.
It will be interesting to see whether the GGF's petition can engage homeowners into getting behind their campaign, or if support will only come from within the industry itself.
The GGF initially need 500 signatures on their petition for it to advance. If you want to make your voice heard, simply visit:
Mortgage Lending Increases, but Borrowers still not Spending
26 August 2009
Figures released yesterday by the British Bankers’ Association show that UK banks increased mortgage approvals by 7% during the month of July this year.
This is almost a twofold increase on November 2008’s figures, but is still far below expected monthly figures outside of the recession, according to analysts.
Quoted in the Daily Telegraph yesterday
, Brigid O’Leart of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said, "While it is encouraging that these numbers have continued to improve, they do not disguise the fact that the housing market is still in a fragile state and that mortgage activity is still limited.”
Whilst increasing lending on mortgages by the banks, even at these tentative levels, will be taken with encouragement by those looking to move in the near future, I would imagine that home improvement and double glazing companies are probably more interested in the spending patterns of those with mortgages, and other debts, to pay off.
The fall in house prices in the UK has battered homeowner equity, whilst the uncertain job market has caused others to focus on their overhanging debts rather than spending on non-essentials, like holidays and, one would presume, home improvement projects.
The assurance of continually rising house prices which homeowners
had during boom times is well and truly on hold, meaning that withdrawing equity to spend on these projects and on other big-ticket consumer goods is difficult to justify.
According to the Institute of Chartered Surveyors, borrowers are currently using any spare cash to pay off debts and increase their equity, which suggests the prevailing assumption that house prices may fall again.
Whether this will result in continued levels of bankruptcy for smaller firms
, or hits on profit margins for the bigger companies, remains to be seen.
Energy Savings from New Windows: Are People Convinced?
12 August 2009
By and large, we in the UK are well aware of our obligation to the environment. In terms of home improvement and double glazing
, both the government and the salespeople tell us that improving the energy efficiency of our properties will not just only reduce carbon emissions, but also help reduce heating costs.
So why are privately rented and owner occupied properties lagging so far behind social housing when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of housing in the UK?
According to the Communities and Local Government
, who conduct a now annual survey of the UK’s housing stock, 21 % of social housing achieves top level Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER).
In contrast, only 10% of properties rented out by private landlords are comparably energy efficient.
In terms of owner occupied properties, just 4% of the UK’s housing stock achieved the top band of energy efficiency.
Even under New Labour, whose public sector has, in many places, slipped into the shrewd, fiscal acquisitiveness normally associated with the private sector, social housing is different to the rest of our housing stock in one crucial way: it is not, or should not, be built, maintained, or rented out with profit as the only deciding factor.
For private homeowners it is normally money saving which motivates home improvement projects
. Does the gap in take up rates between money conscious private homeowners and the public sector betray the fact that private homeowners and landlords are simply not convinced that installing environmentally friendly double glazing makes financial sense?
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) have a nifty tool on their website
which works out how much your expected yearly savings will be from installing a specific level of energy efficient window into your home.
For a typical house in the UK, the GGF suggest, installing double glazing should bring about savings of £150.49. This is certainly better than a kick in the teeth, but still a mere fraction of the cost of installing new windows.
Whilst the last government report was based on a sample group who had not yet been fully exposed to the EU's consumer friendly ‘traffic light’ rating system
which has been used on white goods for a while, but only just applied to windows, there is surely a large possibility that homeowners, often confronted with a bill for thousands by double glazing companies, are simply not going to justify installing the most environmentally friendly windows based purely on the potential cost savings – the initial outlay and the potential return are simply too far removed.
Until the government can incentivise homeowners acting green in a cut-and-dry financial way, I doubt that take up levels of energy efficient home improvements in the private sector will ever come close to matching that in the public sector.
Homes in the UK: Modernise for Comfort or Stay in the Past for.....well what exactly?
31 July 2009
I imagine that double glazing companies and their sales staff must have been cheered by the latest government initiative to encourage home owners to adopt energy saving home improvement measures
(which we wrote about earlier on this month).
But now it looks like the drive to modernise properties and help reduce the carbon footprint of our nation’s homes could be under threat, due to a survey commissioned by English Heritage
which finds that houses with ‘original features’ – that is houses that have, for example, wooden sashes intact and original door frames still in- sell quicker than houses which remove them.
This is in direct contrast to the survey carried out by the Halifax (which we also wrote about not long ago
) that concluded that homeowners believe that homes with double glazing are more appealing than those without (interestingly, English Heritage’s survey used estate agents as its sample group, whereas the Halifax used home owners).
The government’s English House Condition Survey for 2007 – which has just been published and can be read on the government’s website, by clicking the link here
– found that 40% of late 19th century houses (which comprise vast swathes of the housing stock, especially in our cities) have opted for double glazing at the expense of the ‘original features’ which English Heritage believe homeowners should be encouraged to preserve.
English Heritage believes that a large percentage of England’s conservation areas are under threat.
This threat, they believe, is in homeowners installing double glazing
– or other features, such as satellite dishes
or new driveways
– which are not in keeping with the feel of the area but which are not prohibited by planning regulations (there are over 3,000 conservation areas in England, and regulation vary from area to area and from property to property).
The debate as to whether double glazing helps encourage prospective buyers to sign on the dotted line occasionally crops up.
The two sides to the argument are represented by this new report by English Heritage – which claims, alongside many property relocation TV shows, it must be said – that original features make a house easier to sell, and the Halifax, whose report claimed that homeowners see the presence of double glazing as a positive feature for a house in economic terms, in the sense that it will lower bills, rather than as an aesthetic handicap to a new property.
So why is English Heritage so eager to wave their report around? We imagine that it has very little to do with how double glazing can help improve the security, warmth and noise pollution issues which can come with old wooden sashes, and everything to do with their own axe to grind, which is of course based on their upper middle class sensibility – that areas should look ‘nice’ and ‘proper’ at the expense of anything else.
But what do you think? With the newer double glazed units firms are able to integrate double glazing into older properties without making a complete pig’s ear of how they look (at least in theory).
So should homeowners really be restricted on choosing economical and safe modifications to their own homes when they are relatively normal houses (remember three THOUSAND protected areas in England alone. These properties don't all look like the disney castle or the nice chap in the photo's amazing property, alot of them appear, to my unrefined eyes at least, like very bog standard houses).
UK Government: Low Interest Loans for Energy Efficient Homes
20 July 2009
Since Home Information Packs (HIPS)
have been made compulsory in the UK the financial sense in making your home energy efficient
has been fairly self-evident when it comes to resale value.
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) element of the HIPs effectively rewards homeowners who have made relatively simple measures, such as retrofitting double glazing
, or made more adventurous and expensive changes, such as installing solar panels, wind turbines or bio-energy projects.
As a double incentive, it is often the case that grants are available for this work, as they should be considering the UK’s current drive toward its 2050 emissions quota. For information on this check out the home improvements info on the government’s website, by clicking here
. Often it is the local council who you will ultimately be put in touch with, as access to funding seems a bit hit and miss on nationwide.
To add to this, the government has recently announced that low interest loans are due to be made available to homeowners looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
David Adams, chairman of the UK Green Buildings Council, told the Times Newspaper
: "Britain has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent between now and 2050 so we need to cut the emissions from each home to almost zero."
To this end, ‘green mortgages’ of up to £15,000 maybe available for each home, with those who choose not to take out the scheme potentially facing higher council tax bills and higher stamp duty at resale.
Tidy Your House : Advice to Homeowners Looking to Sell, Courtesy of the Halifax
03 July 2009
Halifax Estate Agents, part of the poisoned Lloyds Banking Group, have managed to take their eye of their rocky stock market value for long enough to churn out a questionnaire of 1000 homeowners.
Nice of them to give something back, after the 17billion pounds which tax payers pumped into the company in order for them to get their own house in order. ...
Listing its findings in a press release entitled The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home, the survey found that energy saving features, new windows and double glazing
installations were highly important to people looking to buy new property.
The survey found that external features were the most likely to create a good first impression, with 50% of respondents stating that the exterior of a potential new home is the most important in giving a good or bad first impression.
60% of respondents suggested that new windows/double glazing were considered either essential or desirable for a new property, information which may be of use if you are about to put a property on the market, or have been trying to sell unsuccessfully.
The most important features were the bathroom, the toilet, the sitting room/lounge and having efficient central heating installed.
Of features which negatively influence how a property is perceived by potential buyers, it is little surprise that mould tops the list, with 47% of people claiming that a mouldy room would put them off buying. In addition, lack of parking, lack of a garden and poor fuel efficiency and energy saving measures were all listing as off-putting issues.
Gordon Edwards, Halifax Estate Agents’ managing director, puts it in black and white for us;
"Our research shows that most people are influenced by the kitchen when buying a house. However, you don't need to spend thousands on these rooms when trying to sell. Simple measures like decluttering and keeping a room clean and tidy will make your home more attractive to potential buyers."
This advice may not bolster those who have bought property as an investment, and who are currently cash strapped and looking to sell.
Indeed, it seems that the For Sale signs which appeared and disappeared so quickly during the economic boom have been replaced with those reading To Let, as investors look for revunue streams to keep them going during the recession.
To comment, or add to any of the above, please visit the news forum
Is it the Recession or Bureaucracy which is sending Double Glazing companies down?
03 July 2009
It appears that the general economic misery which has seen so many shops on the high-street cease trading has also touched the double glazing industry, with May 2009 seeing an all time high in the number of companies which have ceased trading (320 in total, up from under 50 during the same time period in 2008).
This is, of course, awful for the employees and owners of these businesses, as it adds to the number of people made jobless.
We also worry for the number of customers left hanging in their wake, who may now struggle with guarantees or, worse yet, be chasing liquidators for deposits which have been paid to companies that have hit the wall.
One of the most disturbing aspects of all this is the number of reported instances where companies who have known the financial trouble they were in continued to take deposits and orders from people.
The question is, will the ‘buy local’ type of mentality which is sending shoppers toward independent grocers and butchers rather than supermarkets spread to the double glazing industry?
Or will homeowners go the other way and give their money to the national companies, perceiving them as more stable and deep pocketed, and therefore a safer bet in rocky times?
But is it just the recession which is making it so much harder for smaller double glazing companies?
Research provided by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) suggests that the smallest businesses (those with up to 9 employees) spend 33 hours a month complying with government regulations, whilst small and medium sized businesses (between 10 and 49 employees) spend an average of 131 hours per month complying with regulations – the same as hiring one full time member of staff.
Whilst regulations, especially sensible health and safety regulations, are undoubtedly vital for businesses in many sectors to stop lazy bosses putting their staff in harm’s way, it does seem that the UK has gone regulation mad, and you cannot help but wonder how those small and medium sized double glazing businesses might have been helped during these financially difficult times if the weight of legislation had been taken off their shoulders.
If you are a small or medium sized business double-glazing-forum.com recommends visiting the FPB's website, where there is lots of advice.
To comment, or add to this story, please visit the news forum.
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