Archive | May, 2013

Just what is a Competent Person Scheme and how does it affect you?

28 May

A Competent Person Scheme (CPS) does exactly what it says on the tin. It enables someone to join a CPS to self-certify certain types of building work if they work in the building trade. This is an alternative to obtaining building regulations approval.  This benefits the consumer as they do not have to worry about getting the work checked by the local authority building control, which has a cost involved. It also saves time and removes the necessity of arranging the visit.

Of course the competent person has to prove that they are indeed competent. There are different CPS and each has its own application processes, rules and fees. Basically an assessment is made on each applicant to ensure the level of competence required is met before an application is approved. Then, once approved, there will be ongoing inspections of the work to make sure the standards are maintained.

Ok, so there you have a brief and concise definition of a CPS, but where does FENSA fit into all this?

FENSA started out as one of the original CPS and is still going from strength to strength over ten years later. To date FENSA has issued over 9 million window and door homeowner certificates.

When you join FENSA you become a member of a team of over 8000 companies nationwide. These include glazing companies, builders, national and smaller home improvements companies, local authorities, housing associations and property developers.

 

 

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What’s more, homeowners recognise the FENSA brand. The homeowner, your potential future customer, can feel confident they are avoiding dealing with a Cowboy Builder when they see you are FENSA registered.

Here at FENSA we aim to make the registration process as painless as possible. Our staff are experienced and can lead you effortlessly through the application procedures.

Once registered we continue to help you maintain the standard of your work, using local, experienced, independent inspectors to help and advise you.

You can also take advantage of some great exclusive opportunities offered to FENSA registered companies including:

  • B&Q Trade Point DIY Card (exclusive volume discounts for FENSA Installers regardless of volume purchased). No other trade scheme delivers this
  • Discounted Fuel Cards
  • Mobile Phone and Tariff discounts

By registering for self-certification you are helping raise the integrity of the replacement window and door industry as a whole and taking an active role in making the cowboy tradesman a thing of the past.

 

shutterstock_99436700 Thumbs up

If you are interested in becoming FENSA registered, do feel free to ask us any questions below.

Building Blocks Series 8: The National Theatre of China

24 May

The next iconic building in our Building Blocks series may not be very tall but is instantly recognisable, The National Theatre of China in Beijing.

It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu and opened in December 2007.  The theatre has an unusual shape and stunning appearance. It is an egg-shaped dome construction of steel covered with over 18,000 titanium plates and over 1,000 sheets of ultra-white glass.

Another window cleaning challenge!

 

Chungking/Shutterstock

Chungking/Shutterstock

 

The theatre stands on an artificial lake which 2.678 million visitors to date have entered through a 60m long transparent walkway actually under the lake. As this is the only entrance, the exterior of the dome is smooth and unbroken. Weighing in at 6,457 tons and over 212m long, this amazing steel and glass oval shell is the largest dome in the world.

There are three venues within the dome, namely the Opera House, the Concert Hall and the Theatre. These are all interconnected with passages and entrances built underwater. On the top floor is a lounge with great views of the surrounding green space and the city all around.

 

Theatre China

 

 

 

The theatre was designed to be accessible to all the people. To that end although the costs of building the theatre went well over budget, 70% of the tickets are sold at a low price so everybody can attend the performances.

 

Yuyangc/Shutterstock

Yuyangc/Shutterstock

 

 

 

 

The Green Deal and the consumer

24 May

In previous blogs we have looked at the Green Deal and the installer. Since the Green Deal has now launched, what does it mean to the consumer?

It maybe you have heard of the Green Deal but are not very clear about how it functions or you may not have heard of it at all. Let’s learn a little more.

Basically it is a scheme initiated by the government to enable people to make energy-saving improvements to their homes without having to pay all the costs right away. The costs of the improvements have to be outweighed by future savings in energy consumption and consequently energy bills. This has become known as the Golden Rule. Payment for the improvements is then made through the property’s future energy bills.

Some of these improvements include double glazing, draught proofing and solar panels.

How is the Green Deal achieved?

The first thing that happens is an assessment of your property. This will produce a report which will explain what improvements could be made and how much that could save on energy bills. The important thing to remember at this point is that the report must comply with the Green Deal Golden Rule that the cost of the work must be outweighed by the energy savings.

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Ok, sounds pretty straight forward so far.

The next step is decision time. If you think the Green Deal is something you want to take advantage of, you will need to choose an approved Green Deal installer to carry out the improvements you have decided upon having.

In the case of double glazing, only companies who are certified by a Green Deal Certification Body (e.g. FENSA) against PAS 2030 to
become a Green Deal Certified Installer can install Green Deal measures.
Homeowners need to get quotes for Green Deal finance packages from Green Deal Providers who can be found at http://www.greendealorb.co.uk/green-deal-participant-register .  Of course you can get quotes from as many Green Deal Providers as you like.  Here is your opportunity to discuss with them what work you want done and whether the Green Deal is right for you.

So, how does it all get paid for?

Once all the decisions have been made your Green Deal contract will be drawn up. This will show the costs and interest charges. You should ensure you understand the repayment rules before you sign your Green Deal Plan. The payments are then made through your electricity bill.

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The Green Deal is different in as much as the actual costs of the improvements stay with the property not the individual.

Therefore if you move in to a property, it may have a Green Deal, so if you are the person who pays the electricity bill, you will continue paying the money back. This is because you will be benefitting from the lower energy bills due to the improvements already made.

Alternatively, if you leave a property with a Green Deal, you are no longer benefitting from the improvements so you stop paying for them.

There is information here if you would like to know more about the Green Deal and its benefits.

New Poll

23 May

Triple Glazing Update

23 May

Spring is supposed to be here yet we still have the odd chilly days, so we thought it would be interesting to see if there has been any significant uptake by consumers to triple glazing.

This is where we would like you to come in, our trusty installers. Please use the comments area below to let us know your experiences or your thoughts on the subject of installing triple glazing.

 

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We have done a little research ourselves to discover more about triple glazing, any benefits and issues both  good and bad!

Well, we know double glazing already makes our homes comfortable and more energy efficient, so is there any advantage to installing triple glazing?

Triple glazing is very popular on the continent, in areas such as the Scandinavian countries with their colder climates but not been thought so necessary for our milder climate.  However, as previously mentioned, with a shift in our climate towards colder, wetter winters, maybe this opinion will be revised. If triple glazing is so successful for the cold areas of Europe, it stands to reason it would be valuable in the UK.

 

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Without going in to all the technicalities it seems triple glazing can help with a number of issues, one being the reduction of condensation within the home. This can be very good news for those home owners who do battle with condensation throughout the winter months.

What about the question of sound proofing? If you live on a busy road, near an airport, football ground etc, then triple glazing maybe a good consideration. Sunday morning lie-ins may become far more enjoyable!

Can triple glazing save money on energy bills? With rising energy costs this would be a very serious consideration to the home owner and could tip the balance in favour of triple glazing.

But as triple glazing is more expensive than double glazing to have installed are these advantages enough to outweigh the extra costs involved?

Let’s have a quick look at what some of these extra costs are. As expected the windows themselves cost more to manufacture, but there are other considerations that the consumer may not be aware of.

As the triple glazed windows are much heavier, consumables have to be stronger and by definition more expensive. More fuel and stronger transportation will be needed to move the windows from location to location, not to mention the manual handling of the windows by the fitters themselves!

 

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It seems triple glazing with its improved energy efficiency, great sound proofing, and the extra comfort it brings to the home, will certainly become more popular in the UK in time, especially as technology advances reducing manufacturing and fitting costs.

Let us know what you think.

 

Building Blocks Series 7: The Sage Gateshead

23 May

For our next Building Blocks Series iconic glass building we decided to stay well and truly in the UK.

Maybe you are trying to guess which building in London we have chosen. Well, it may take a bit of guessing as this iconic building is in the North East of England on the River Tyne.

With a slightly unimpressive name, The Sage (named after one of its patrons) is a very impressive building.

The inspirational shape reflects the great arch of the nearby Tyne Bridge. Looking very futuristic, with its curved frame reminiscent of a giant sparking shell, the Sage is actually a music centre and houses three separate concert halls. Functioning as the region’s music centre it receives visitors in the region of half a million each year.

 

shutterstock_930025 The Sage

 

The building was designed by Foster and Partners, a company specialising in glass and steel constructions and completed in 2004 at the cost of £70 million. It is interesting to note that it was built as a result of the design winning a competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects

 

shutterstock_30607033 The sage

 

As the building was to be a music centre, special attention in the design had to be paid to the acoustics. With the acoustics in mind, the amazing outer shell of glass and steel encloses the building but does not actually touch it. Even the concrete has a special higher air capacity to improve the acoustics. Now, that is dedication.

 

No Building Blocks Series blog would be complete without a mention of how the windows are cleaned, so as not to disappoint here are some great shots of abseiling window cleaners on the Sage.

 

The Sage building itself is free to enter, so if you are ever up that way why not pop along and have a look around and enjoy the great views of the surrounding area.