Windows and Doors Reality Check – The Double Glazing Minefield

February 4, 2019

You Get What You Pay For

Like most things these days products are built to last about 10 years. It’s no less true in the double glazing industry.

Cut corners on your investment and it’s likely in 5-10 years you will get windows and doors in which:

  • Glazing units get foggy
  • Glazing seals fail
  • Casement seals fail
  • Window hinges, locks and keeps bend, break or seize
  • Sliding sash spring balances fail
  • Timber rots, warps, swells and paint/stain finishes fail (see above – less than 6 years old!)
  • Frames sag (e.g. non-reinforced uPVC windows, cheap aluminium bifolding doors)
  • Running gear stops working smoothly (i.e. bifolding door wheels wear out or jam in their tracks)
  • The list goes on…..

If you want a product that will last you more than 10 years you’d be forgiven for thinking only the big nationals, with puffed-up prices and so-called ‘lifetime’ guarantees, can be trusted.

Actually, a Which? Customer Satisfaction survey report in 2016 found that the big nationals received the lowest overall scores (56%) whilst the independents received the highest (86%).

Value for money came out worse. The nationals scored as low as 2 out of 5 stars, whereas the independents scored 5!

Only 26% of those surveyed had after-sales problems with the independents, as opposed to up to 55% with the nationals.

Whilst the reports published by Which? failed to carry out any informed research into the minefield of product quality, these headline figures do give a useful indication of performance. At least with regard to the uPVC market, which is the largest sector and source of revenue in the double glazing industry.

Indeed, the standard ‘shiny white’ plastic market is saturated with companies desperately competing for business. The result? Focusing on price to get your business leads to a degradation in quality.

One customer in the Which report stated their initial quote of more than £4,000 for new uPVC windows dropped to under £1,000.

So what does this expose? Sharp selling practises? Most certainly.

Adding vast mark-ups to a product and then offering ‘50% off’ (and then some) 365 day a year ‘sales’ should have been dumped in the 80s but still continues. Thus the big guns are running out of ammunition and one day will be silenced. Having worked for one of these ‘household name’ companies and quickly fallen out of love with their poor products, methods and after-sales, I say it’s not before time….

But ask yourself: “If I can get some windows for less than £1,000, will they be any good?” Well, work it out: take off VAT, at least one day’s fitting for a 2-man team (minimum £250) and you are left with £583. Then factor in PROFIT, ethical disposal of your old windows, access (i.e. scaffolding, if required), sales commission etc…. – SERIOUSLY?! You might as well fit shower curtains in your reveals!

The conservatory below was installed over 20 years ago at the Roger Thorpe Manor Hotel near Leeds. Still beautiful, in superb condition and it has had minimal maintenance.

The old adage “you (generally) get what you pay for” is still very relevant.

Robert Goldsbrough

Robert Goldsbrough

Robert has been developing and building period & contemporary homes since 1995, and has installed all types of external home improvement products.