Archive | November, 2010

Pesky Doors being replaced…

19 Nov

We have been contacted a couple of times now on Twitter (if you’re not following us, why not? @FENSA_Windows J) about replacement French doors and the need for a FENSA certificate. So let’s look at a typical question on this subject:

“I had a conservatory built back in ’98 and had the existing wooden French windows between the house and the conservatory kept. However, in 2002 I had these removed.

I am now selling the house and I need to put windows back. I have bought some windows and have now hung them myself, putting the conservatory back to how it was in ’98. The house buyers solicitor is now requesting a FENSA certificate for the installation, which I obviously don’t have.

cert-pic fensa

My question is, do I actually need one? After all I have replaced the windows that were there back in ’98. My second question is do I need them for single glazed doors, which is what I have used?”

Ok, well first things first, these are essentially replacement doors. You may ask why? Well that is because they replace the original footprint of the property. Because they are replacement doors, certification will need to be provided to the house buyer’s solicitor (and it is why the solicitor is asking for these). So for anybody out there reading this thinking, “I was going to do that….” then remember; the easiest option is to have a FENSA registered installer to supply and fit the new doors. In that case, you would receive your certificate and there would be no issues…

However, in our question, the home owner hung the doors themselves, so in order to obtain a certificate; they (or you if you have done the same thing) will need to go back via their local authority with a retrospective inspection through building regulations. Oh, and you will need to do this for certification.

The second part of the question asks about single glazed doors. This is a bit of a problem. Single glazed doors wouldn’t pass a building regulation inspection. This will cause an issue as you won’t be able to gain a certificate from the local authority. Unfortunately for the homeowner, these really need to be double glazed.

It’s a good example…

Hopefully this example of one of the questions we are receiving will help home owners out there understand a little more about replacement doors and windows. Unfortunately, looking through many discussion groups on the web, there is a lot of miss-information / confusion coming from home owners.  Hopefully this post will help…

If you have any questions on this, why not leave it as a comment, or contact us via our website, http://www.fensa.org.uk or catch us on Twitter (@FENSA_Windows). In addition, if you have a similar question that needs answering, get in touch…

What do you think about window fitters?

15 Nov

Hi all. Yes, we really want to know the answer to this question. And that is why we have set up a new poll asking what you think is most important in a window fitter. It will only take you 1 second out of your busy day, but we would really like to know  what you think, so please fill in the poll below.

Find a FENSA Window Fitter

Have you recently used a window fitter. Why did you pick them – was it based on value for money ? Or was reliability of the workmen, or their availability more important. Particularly with the cold winter weather we have been having, I can understand why you might be wanting your new windows to be installed as quickly as possible, for example.

Or is it something else altogether. Is compliance with building regulations the most important thing in a window fitter? If so, then choosing a FENSA Fitter is a good place to start, as they can self-certify that their installation complies with building regulations – without the hassle of going through Building control yourself.

And why do we want to know this you might ask? Well FENSA have over 9000 window fitter companies registered with us, and each one of them wants to provide the best service they can to their customers. And that is why knowing what you think is really important!

Have your say!

8 Nov

FENSA focus groups

Are you a window fitter and do you have something to say? Because FENSA wants to hear from you!

They are holding focus groups in Bristol on Tue 30th November in the evening  and Nottingham on Thu 9 December in the evening. Not sure what a focus group is? Well basically it is a group of people discussing and talking about a particular issue – FENSA and the window industry in this case. There will be discussion topics included, but you can talk about issues that concern you most. This is to help FENSA better understand installer’s views and perceptions of FENSA and the window installation industry. Participants will receive a small gift as an appreciation for their time, and refreshments will be provided.

 

This event is the perfect opportunity for you to have your say – whether you want to talk about something FENSA does that really works, or you have something to complain about, or just something you want changed.

 

The results of the focus group discussions will help FENSA to improve the service that they offer to their window fitters, and so ultimately help the customer too. We will let you know the changes we will be making following on from these focus groups, in a later blog.

 

 If you are a FENSA Fitter and are interested in attending email sman@fensa.org.uk for more details.  Do let us know in the comments box below where else you would like to hold them.

Bonfire of the Office of Fair Trading and Consumer Direct

8 Nov

 This weekend was all about fireworks and bonfires, but over the last few weeks there is something else that has been getting burnt – Government organisations. Following the Government Spending Review, both the Office Of Fair Trading and Consumer Direct have been in flames.

According to this article in the Financial Times<http://www.ft.com/home/uk>,  the Office of Fair Trading <http://oft.gov.uk/> and the Competition Commission <http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/> will merge, aiming to reduce costs and speed up investigations. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is also being stripped of its consumer protection role, with local trading standards officers taking on more responsibility, according to this blog.

In addition, Consumer Direct<http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/>, a Government-funded call centre providing basic consumer advice in the UK, will be taken over by the Citizens’ Advice<https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/> bureau ( a charity organisation) and Trading Standards.

shutterstock_48813688 H&S

So what does all this have to do with window installation you might ask?

Well, it is Trading Standards that are ultimately responsible for dealing with ‘Rogue Traders’ or ‘cowboys’. In fact, more than 106,000 complaints about rogue traders are logged every year, so this is already an important part of what Trading Standards do. The problem is that with the loss of some of the other Government organisations, Trading Standards are likely to be busier than ever. In fact, Trading standards officers had campaigned for the Consumer Direct helpline in the first place, so they could concentrate on investigating and prosecuting rogue traders.

So with the loss of Consumer Direct, and the merging of the Office of Fair Trading, the places you can go for help with a cowboy builder are diminished, and the remaining organisations may be more stretched. So obviously, more than ever it will be better if you don’t end up with a cowboy builder in the first place when getting your windows installed (Think Cowboy Builders on Channel 5   -<http://www.five.tv/shows/cowboy-builders> I love that programme!).

And this is where FENSA<http://www.fensa.org.uk/> can help. If you go to the FENSA website, you can find a FENSA Fitter in your area. This means that you know the builder is registered with FENSA, and they independently assess the companies registered with them, so you don’t have to! You minimise any risks of getting your windows done, and get a certificate so you know the work complies with current building regulations. It is a no brainer really!

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

3 Nov

I don’t think it’s just me, but you got to admit it, we all love a spaghetti western don’t we? What about a John Wayne classic (the duke)? But, this is the big question, would you want John or Clint Eastwood fitting your windows? Well, it would be entertaining but once the work was finished, i don’t think I would be too happy, so no, I wouldn’t want them fitting my windows either…Yet so many cowboys are out there who do get to fit people’s windows – and they do a nasty job which unfortunately costs the consumer far too much money in the long run…

Pretty much every industry has it fair share of cowboys, the building trade in particular is well known for it. But window fitter cowboys are out there, don’t think they aren’t.

man and woman building

However at FENSA we are determined to help you the consumer spot them, and more importantly avoid them like the shoot out at the O.K Coral…Think of us as Wyatt Earp and his brothers (check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyatt_Earp ).

Anyway, we at FENSA have helped with a dedicated website set up to help you beat the cowboys. Why not visit http://www.cowboystoppers.co.uk/ and find out more…Its a good place to start when hiring a contractor, trying to spot a cowboy and knowing your rights. We also let you report a cowboy too on the website. We even have a complete consumer guide you can download and read at your leisure (or if you prefer print it off), obviously for free. You can view it here  

Not only are we here to try and help you avoid the cowboys, but we also actively prosecute report them to and work with both trading standards and local authority building control where relevant to prosecute  them. We encourage anyone out there, if they have had experience of cowboys, or know of any, to report them to us.

So if you are getting new windows fitted, take a few moments to read our website, look through the cowboy stopper website and view the guide, in the long run it can save you a lot of heartache and your own western altercation…

Homeowners: What you need to know about your windows

3 Nov

This may sound a little boring, but there is more to windows than just picking the ones you like the look of (sorry to say that). You have to think about building regulations, certification (when selling your home), thermal performance etc. Then on top of that, you have to make sure you don’t get a cowboy fitter…..So what do you need to know? This post will give you the basics

Thinking of replacing your windows?

All replacement glazing comes within the scope of the building regulations. Anyone who installs replacement windows or doors must comply with current thermal performance standards.  You may be asking “Why” right now, but it’s basically to ensure the reduction of energy loss is in line with Government policy. But there is a plus side for you too, lower heating bills, so its not all bad.

43866361 window with snow

When selling your property your purchaser’s solicitors will ask for evidence that any replacement glazing installed since April 2002 complies with building regulations, and there are two ways to prove this.

A certificate showing that the work was carried out by a FENSA installer

A certificate from the local authority building control stating that the installation has been approved under the building regulations To be fair, the first option is the easiest, and if you lose your certificate you can re-apply for a copy via our website www.Fensa.co.uk<http://www.Fensa.co.uk>

So what is the FENSA scheme?

FENSA was set up by all the key industry bodies and trade associations  the glass and glazing federation (GGF) at the request of the Communities and Local Government Department <http://www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/>  to allow registered companies to self-certify that their installations comply with the building regulations. This makes life easier for the industry, but also for consumers. Today FENSA is still very much industry-led in terms of its relationship with key trade bodies and with those companies that register as FENSA fitters.

 FENSA informs local authorities of all completed registered installations and will issue a certificate to the homeowner confirming compliance. Any installation undertaken by a company that isn’t registered or by you as a DIY project has to have full local authority building control approval. It is worth noting that the authorities know of all registered companies in the area and can easily identify unauthorised installations.

Before you sign a contract to buy your new replacement glazing, ask if your installer can self certify ie if they are a FENSA Fitter. In not, then you know you need to pop down the council and request an application for approval under the building regulations – but that is all a lot of time and effort, you will probably find it a lot easier just to use a FENSA Fitter in the first place.

More information

If you want more information, visit our website http://www.fensa.co.uk , we have lots of information on FENSA and what it all means to you as a homeowner. We also provide you with a search facility for installers in your area, news, faqs and a guide on spotting cowboys…