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Buyers Tips for Replacement Windows and Double Glazing

fitting double glazed unit(This article has been reproduced from www.doubleglazing.com website)

Below you will find a "Quick Reference" set of general tips. Apart from the first tip (which is considered the most important) the tips are not in any particular order. We hope they will assist you in coming to the correct buying decision.

1 Replacing windows on your property can change the visual appearance of your home considerably. You should choose a style that matches your property and enhances its looks. This is particularly important with PVC-u when they are fitted to older properties. It's a good idea to look at properties similar to yours in the area and compare the effect of various replacement window types.

2 Make sure you have adequate numbers of opening windows. The simpler the design and the fewer the openings - the "cheaper" the window. Whilst you may want a low price, it's more likely you will regret this option in the end - especially as badly designed windows can turn out to be a very bad investment and even lower the value of a property.

3 Always ask your supplier how long the delivery will be. It's also a good idea to have this stipulated on your contract.

4 Sometimes (but rarely) planning permission may be required in order to fit replacement windows. This is particularly the case in "listed buildings" and "conservation areas". Also if you are "converting" a flat window into a "bow" or "bay" window you may need planning permission. It's a good idea to always check this your self with the local authority.

5 With PVCu windows it's a good idea to ask your supplier if the windows are fully welded or if parts of the window (transoms / midrails) are mechanically fixed. Mechanical fixing is generally a "cheaper" way of manufacturing. It's possible with wear and tear (especially on doors) that the mechanical (screw) fixing will split apart - weakening the frames and reducing performance. Whilst mechanical fixing is not entirely a bad thing - especially if done correctly - we would suggest you give preference to fully welded structures especially if all other "conditions" (price / quality of supplier) are similar. The only exception to this is maybe in WOODGRAIN style PVCu frames when a mechanical fixing can look neater - especially with regards to how the "grain" finish on the PVCu frames "runs". Ask your supplier for an explanation of this if you are not sure.

6 Fitting double-glazing in replacement windows will provide some sound insulation. However if your primary motivation for fitting double-glazing is to reduce sound then secondary glazing, where you fit a new single glazed frame in front of the existing (prime) window frame, will be better. The greater the "air gap" the better the sound insulation.

7 Double-glazing will reduce heat loss through your windows by an estimated 10 - 12%. You will save money on your heating bills. However it will be a considerable time before you save enough money to "pay for the windows" - so don't fit double-glazing for this reason alone.

8 Don't accept the first price you are quoted. Get at least two - three estimates if you have the time. Research all of the alternatives in terms of product and style.

9 Check out the Guarantee and what it covers. A lot of companies now offer "insurance backed" guarantees. Do note however that these are really Insolvency Guarantees and only become effective if a company should go out of business. Most guarantees will give a 10-year cover on the frames but you may find that the cover for the double glazed unit is 5 years. It's always best to ask a potential supplier to be specific (in writing) about these issues.

10 Always enquire about the type of locks and security features being fitted. Most modern double-glazed replacement windows feature multi-point espagnolette type locking, which will also "lock" partially open in a "night-vent" position. It may be possible to upgrade to shoot bolt locking or SAC bolt locks for additional security. For doors, many different types of locks and features such as "Entry Guard" (a sort of security chain allowing you to partially open the door and view visitors) are available. Always enquire what is standard and also what upgrades are available. Often for a little extra cost you can have a substantially better locking system.

11 With PVC-u windows in particular you will often hear a lot of "arguments" in favour of using an internally beaded window - instead of an externally beaded window. Clearly, if the beads holding in the glass are on the inside of the window it will be more difficult for a burglar to remove the glass and enter your home. Do note however that some suppliers of externally beaded windows will fit special glazing gaskets and double sided tape to the frame and sealed unit in order to improve on the security and some even claim security "as good as" internal beading.

12 Always ask if the windows have any special "easy escape" or "fire escape" features. Special hinges can be fitted to help with this - but these are not usually standard items and will cost more.

13 When comparing "like with like" please take into comparison how long the company has been established and the "quality" of their guarantees. You may find two suppliers using the same XXXX PVCu extrusion and the same Pilkington Glass.

14 Our final tip in this section and perhaps one of the most important. Do not be the Customer from HELL. To get the best out of any Replacement Window Supplier maintain a friendly but professional rapport. Do not assume that they will always be trying to get "one over" on you. Their advice may be in your best interests. If you appear defensive and untrusting - always assuming the worst of your supplier - the whole experience will be unpleasant for both you and the supplier. Be vigilant - but always prepared to listen to their advice - especially if problems occur.

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