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Tech Talk Tuesday

15 Mar


The most common variations are still due to safety glazing because there are so many places it can go awry.

The need for safety glass should be checked for at least three times. Once at sales, once at survey and finally at installation. Below are the top six most common mistakes made:

  1. Next to doors – The surveyor may not note on the survey that a window next to a door needs safety glass because the factory will pick up it is a door combination. However during order processing doors and windows sometimes get spilt up and that flag window is suddenly just a window…
  2. Bathrooms – Any bath or shower tray below the window becomes the finished floor level – so measure from inside that not from the floor. Also, if the window change is part of a refurbishment of a bathroom ask if a bath or shower will be under the window. Remember it is considered good practice to fit safety glass in bathrooms even if the windows are outside critical locations.
  3. Outside floor level – The measurement of 800mm from floor level or 1500mm when within 300mm of a door is taken from inside and outside. If the glass is below these levels on either side then it is critical and needs to be safety glass. Cellar windows are commonly missed as they are at head height inside but ankle height outside.
  4. Damaged units – Scratched and damaged units are spotted by the fitter and sizes for a replacement called in. A new unit is made but the safety aspect has been missed and annealed glass is installed in a critical area.
  5. Units the same size – Often there are two units that are the same size but one is safety glass and the other isn’t. Its easy to switch them by mistake. Some IGU manufactures are trying to combat this using different coloured tape or labels for their toughened units.
  6. Window seats – Any fixed furniture in front of a window will be considered the floor level so when surveying watch for these and call up the appropriate glass.

FENSA publishes letter sent to The Times

25 Sep

This summer we decided to respond to an article that was published in The Times. In the article the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) implied that any window installation companies, and other trades involved in the domestic replacement sector, that were not signed up for Green Deal – and PAS2030 – were unlikely to provide a quality installation job.  We’ve asked The Times to consider publishing the following letter from FENSA.


Dear Sirs

In a recent article published in The Times on May 2 The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) implied that any window installation companies (and other trades involved in the domestic replacement sector) that were not signed up for Green Deal – and PAS2030 – were unlikely to provide a quality installation job.

DECC’s actual words were: “The whole point in making people use approved companies is to ensure customers get the best service, installations are up to standard and we can audit it. This is public money — we have to be certain it is being spent properly and people are not being conned by rogue traders.”

FENSA, the largest glazing Competent Persons Scheme, on behalf of the installers of replacement windows and doors in domestic properties in England Wales, strongly refutes any such claim. We understand that a number of other trades agree with us.

The industry and Government are both well aware, that FENSA has implemented a raft of upgraded processes and standards over the last two years. These have included issues such as enhanced technical competencies for both installation businesses and individual operatives and consumer protection through mandatory Insurance Backed Guarantees.

These are all conditions set down by another arm of government – the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

FENSA registered businesses are also subject to a stringent inspection regime and are required to demonstrate the highest ever, technical competencies. All of this, contrary to what DECC claims, will provide consumers with the confidence that they will get a job well done.

FENSA is concerned that government departments seemingly are not communicating effectively with each other over a subject that is so important for all Competent Person Schemes in the building sector and which also has such a significant impact on the quality of work delivered for homeowners throughout the country.

FENSA in no way wants to denigrate the Green Deal initiative – it is a strong supporter of it and is in fact a Green Deal Certification body. However, claiming that only Green Deal approved installers can be trusted to deliver the goods is damaging to the many bona fide quality tradesmen who are carrying out home improvements to a high standard across the UK.

Yours Sincerely,

FENSA Managing Director


Peace of mind with FENSA

2 Sep

A FENSA registered installer guarantees your job meeting Building Regulations. The installers have been vetted and undergone inspections to enable them to self-certify that their work passes Building Regulations.

FENSA is the first glazing self-certification scheme to start in the UK, they have 12 years of raising standards in the glazing industry since it was established in 2002, and it continues to work closely with government and industry. FENSA installers are continually vetted and inspected to ensure that compliance with the Building Regulation standards is being maintained.


On completion of the work you, the homeowner, will receive a FENSA certificate soon after the job is finished. This needs to be kept safe as it will be requested by the solicitor when you come to sell your home.

Benefits of FENSA

Other than knowing your windows and doors are being fitted to the high standard demanded by Building Regulations there are more benefits of using a FENSA installer:

  • Offer Guarantee/Warranty: to cover the costs of completing rectification work in respect of defect.
  • Insurance to back up the guarantee/warranty in the event the installer ceases to trade.
  • Deposit Protection
  • Replacement certificates – Can be ordered online. FENSA can offer support to your solicitor when tracing missing certificates during the sale of your property

How to get the best from your installer

Here are some hints and tips for when you are searching for your window and door installer (or indeed any contractor), and some practical steps to take when dealing with them.

  • Get recommendations from family and friends.
  • Shop around and ask for references – and follow them up!
  • Get everything in writing – including cost estimates, timeframes, product selected etc
  • Ask three installers to quote for your project.
  • Ask them what insurance they provide – for things such as deposit protection.
  • Check your installers’ credentials. If they claim Competent Person Scheme registration they will be listed on the relevant website:

If you decide to go with an installer not FENSA registered you will need to organise an inspection of your installation job by your local building inspector. This can cost up to £250. If the installation is deemed to be below standard then the homeowner will be responsible for sorting out any problems. This is why we highly recommend using a Competent Persons Scheme like ourselves.

Beware Rogue Traders

We would also like to make you aware that not all window and door companies who claim to be registered with a Competent Persons Scheme actually are. So the only way to guarantee that the company you are using achieves this standard is by searching for your installer through a Competent Persons Scheme website such as FENSA. We have a tool on our website which allows you to search for a FENSA registered business.

For further information about FENSA visit the website

Or contact the FENSA team on 020 7645 3700 or

New IBG requirement

26 Jun

This month it became a Government requirement for Competent Person Schemes within the replacement glazing industry in England and Wales to ensure that their Registered Businesses provide all replacing windows/doors domestic customers with an Insurance Back Guarantee (IBG), rather than just offer one.

This change applies to all Competent Person Schemes not just FENSA.

To help its Registered Businesses FENSA has compiled a list of Approved IBG Providers (Insurance companies) to fit the new IBG. All insurance companies listed have been the subject of due diligence by FENSA that has involved checking the cover provided in the policies that will be sold to homeowners.

FENSA Approved Insurance Providers
(In alphabetical order)

The Consumer Protection Association (CPA)
T: 01462 850062

GGFi Limited
T: 0870 850 8281

Home Improvement Protection (HIP)
T: 01359 252202

HomePro Insurance
T: 08707 344344


T: 0333 014 5566

Independent Warranty (IWA)
T: 01604 604511

Installations Assured
T: 01234 855377

Insured Windows Guarantees Ltd (IWG)
T: 01924 783650 or 08000 730506

NHG Guarantees
T: 07917 448688

Plastic Window Federation (PWF)
T: 01582 456147

Quality Assured National Warranties (QANW)
T: 01292 292701



Due to the new requirements some IBG providers will no longer fulfil the necessary criteria to sell these policies. FENSA is continually working with insurance companies to enable them to become part of FENSA’s Approved IBG Provider list.

If your insurance company is not on FENSA’s Approved IBG Provider list, you will need to make arrangements to switch supplier to one of FENSA’s approved companies as soon as possible.

All FENSA registered businesses have been supplied with the updated list directly.

If FENSA Registered Businesses have any questions about IBGs please telephone 020 7397 7208 or email


Building Blocks Series 16: The Canton Tower

14 Mar

The next stunning building in our Building Blocks series is the Canton Tower in China. It is currently the highest tower in China and the third tallest in the world. The tower is unusual in that it was built as a sightseeing building and new landmark for the city of Guangzhou.

It has a unique shape with the building twisting up towards the sky. The tower narrows in the middle making it appear to have a waist. The shape is formed by two ellipses rotated relative to each other. One ellipse is at foundation level and one at 450m.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Overall the tower is 600m tall with two observation decks: the Cloud Observation Deck on the 107th floor and the Star Observation Deck on the 108th floor. On a clear day the view is magnificent through the staggering 8,922 windows. The Pearl River and city lie beneath your feet if you are brave enough to stand on the Glass Walk.

If you have a head for heights take a look at how the tower’s windows are kept clean!

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The Canton Tower also boasts the longest spiral staircase in the world called the Spider Walk. You need to be pretty fit to undertake the climb as it starts on the 32nd floor and finishes on the 64th floor! You will have actually climbed 1000m skywards all the while treading on transparent steps. Quite an experience. If you are feeling particularly courageous you can take a ride in the Bubble Tram which runs around the top of the tower at 455m from the ground, to enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

In November 2010 Guangzhou hosted the 16th Asian Games with the Canton Tower used for an amazing fireworks display at the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the Games.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The Canton Tower may hold many records such as having the highest ferris wheel and 4D cinema in the world but it can be best appreciated for its unique, elegant appearance and charm.





Building Blocks Series 15: Aldar Headquarters

6 Feb

The next amazing building in our Building Blocks series is a skyscraper but not as we know it. The headquarters of Aldar, a property and investment company in Abu Dhabi, are housed in a round, coin shaped circle of glass.

Source Wikimedia Commons

Source Wikimedia Commons

This iconic structure is completely circular and fully glazed, standing 124m tall. It took 3 years to build from 2007-2010 and was designed by architects MZ and Partners. It boasts 23 floors and 3 basement levels and is located in a unique position surrounded by the sea, desert and a canal.

The design was inspired by the shape of a clam shell with the two giant circular curved walls of glass bringing to mind an open shell. The original design required a total of 10,000 different pieces of glass for the façade but as this proved to be impractical; it was refined with panels in the diamond-shaped steel ‘diagrid’ of a similar size enabling the striking shape of the building. The hemispherical facades comprising two circular shaped convex shapes are joined by a narrow strip of corrugated glass.

Source Wikimedia Commons

Source Wikimedia Commons



This stunning circular building stands at an elevation from west to east, allowing both the sunset and sunrise to be reflected in its shiny surface.

The building has received several awards and recognitions, including one for the “Best Futuristic Design” by The Building Exchange.

You might like to take a look at this Time Lapse video of the construction of the building.

Building Blocks Series 14: City Hall

17 Dec

This month’s iconic building is City Hall, home to the Mayor of London and the London assembly.

It was designed by Foster & Partners to be a new landmark for the capital. In this blog we will see if they have succeeded in their challenge.

Source Wikimedia

Source Wikimedia


The first thing we noticed was its striking, round shape covered in glass. It is actually a geometrically modified sphere, scientifically designed to reduce heat loss from its surface and to be as Green as possible. To that end it has solar panels on the roof and also leans back by 31 degrees to allow for natural shading from sunlight. The heat produced by lights and computers is even recycled back throughout the building. Cold water from the water table under London is used instead of refrigeration to air condition the building and then used for flushing the toilets.


Source Wikimedia

Source Wikimedia


One of the major features which we know you will be interested in is the 7,300 sq metres of triple glazed low, emissivity coated, clear glass windows cladding the building.  These can be opened in office areas to allow for natural ventilation. The windows also incorporate self-shading devices. The unique shape of City Hall minimises its surface area by 25% of an equivalent rectangular building and combined with the high performance windows results in its excellent energy efficiency. City Hall currently uses a quarter of the energy of a similar building.


If you would like to visit this amazing building it is situated on the south bank of the Thames just along from the HMS Belfast.  You won’t be able to miss it! You can even book the top floor for an event from a corporate event to a civil wedding!