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Tech Talk Tuesday

29 Dec

AVOID LOAD BEARING PROBLEMS

A vital part of the survey and installation of replacement windows is how any structure above them is supported. In the majority of cases a suitable lintel is present and plays no part in the installation. But this should never be taken for granted.

UK homes exhibit varied building techniques for load carrying – concrete, steel, timber and stone lintels, brick arches, boot lintels. The list is endless. If the installation property has one of these in place (with no signs of failure) there’s little to worry about. But if there are no obvious means of support then very close scrutiny must be made during survey.

If there is any potential for the structure to move, then as a competent person you must ensure that the load above the opening is secured. Many properties were built with the original timber window supporting the brickwork above. So replacing it with modern PVC or Aluminium window frames compromises the carrying the load.

A soldier or head course of bricks above a window is not acting as a support unless it has been formed into an arch. A soldier course is usually decorative. These should be carefully examined and a plan to support it drawn up before any window below is replaced.

Good surveying is the key to getting the support issue correct. If you inspect thoroughly then any issues can be brought to the attention of the householder before work commences. If it is not identified beforehand and a support has to be installed during or post installation, the cost burden may fall on you the installer.

Bay windows should always be treated as loadbearing even if the load seems small. It should be supported by suitable bay poles that rest on either a fully reinforced cill (the reinforcement should be under the pole), steel spreader places having passed through the cill or onto a jacking pole system. The top of the pole should be tight to the structure above with steel spreading plates in-between. The poles should be carrying the whole load (not just point loads). It may be necessary to use steel or leave the head in place to carry any centre loads.

Finally a word to the wise – a disclaimer signed by the householder does not remove the onus on the competent person to do a professional job.

How does technology help FENSA Fitters?

21 Jan

We thought this would be an interesting subject to discuss with the many possibilities there are now in communications. How many of us now use such things as smart phones and tablets in our everyday work and business?

Certainly, for our FENSA Fitters, keeping records, invoicing and pricing can all be managed on a laptop or tablet. This also results in less paperwork. A lap top can now be loaded up with photos of products and information on the services that can be provided. This can be accessed immediately, so if your customer is keen to get the process started, you can have everything on hand.

Many people cannot imagine life without their smart phone. How many of us fit in to that category? It has become an essential part of business equipment. You can check your appointments and set reminders so you never miss that crucial customer meeting. Gone are the days when you arrived back home or to the office to an answer phone packed with messages from your customers! Your customers can now contact you almost instantly. If you are not able to answer the phone, you can collect your messages on the go. This all makes for better customer relations.

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Another technology that can be essential to a FENSA Fitter is the humble Satnav. Maybe something we now take for granted, the Satnav is an amazing asset and can prevent time being wasted driving around searching for that elusive address. It can also keep the blood pressure down!

Probably the major advance in communications is the advent of social media. Customers can now look at your business on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They can engage with you and ask questions and obtain information that in the past would have had to be sent in the post, or via the telephone. They can also see what others have to say about your business. This can result in a much more personal and spontaneous relationship. Positive comments about your service from your customers are an added bonus!

There is little doubt technology has improved communications between the FENSA Fitter and customer. We are surrounded by innovations and gadgets that can improve the quality of the working day. We think this is a good thing, how about you?