Monthly Archives: June 2013

Manage My Shortlist – get a free quote.

double glazing companies widget

Are you looking for a free quote for new windows, double glazing or a conservatory ?

Would you like to find a list of reputable companies near you, read reviews from fellow homeowners and decide which is the best window installation company for your project?

Would you like to get a quote (or even lots of them) without having the hassle of seeing a salesman?

If so, you’ll find this site will help you, but firstly please understand that you have nothing to fear from this site. We promise we don’t try to capture your details nor do we ever sell any of your data to anyone, ever.

This site is has been built specifically to help retail customers like you, find companies with good reputations, so that you avoid rouges.

We help you understand industry acronyms, give you hints and advice so that you can think through your options, and help you make contact with them if you wish, its not our decision, it’s yours but we can help you with things like “my shortlist”.

We started this site, so that retail customers like you can compare companies in the double glazing industry, see what products and services they offer, what previous users thought of them, even the dates they started as a limited company.

It is designed so that you can check the accreditations they hold, the competent person’s schemes they are registered with and verify the claims they are making, well before you ever have to contact them.

If you like the sound of a company, you can select them on “my shortlist” (saving them to a favourites list). Once you have made your selection, you can send an email (to as many as you wish) inviting them to provide you with a written quotation. and better still, they won’t know that you’ve asked other companies, so they will get back to you quickly.

Because you directly invite companies that “fit your bill” (and with whom you feel comfortable) you are in total control of the process. ONLY those businesses that you select will know that you are wanting new windows, nobody else.

This service is free to you and free to the companies who receive your enquiry.

Your shortlist is your business, we cannot see it. When you send enquiries to companies*, they cannot see anyone else you may have sent it to. This means you will only be contacted by those companies on your shortlist, that you selected and that you wanted a quote from.

*We can only email those companies who have provided us with their email address.

Please be aware, there are dozens and dozens of web sites that are designed to capture your details, they ask you for your personal details and suggest they will find trusted local companies that they have vetted for you.

What actually happens is they sell that information onto any organisation prepared to buy it!

Only ever fill in a form if you trust a site completely. On this web site, you are in full control, your contact details are only required when you want someone to make contact with you.

Can you trust our 5 star ratings system?

Yes because again it’s driven by you. It is solely, previous customer reviews that are displayed, no company can pay extra to be displayed higher in the rankings, only your user reviews and the answers we get to a simple question, “would you recommend this company to a friend” yes or no.

We think that everyone is looking for a recommended company, one which has a good reputation, a company that looks after its customers (especially if things have gone a little wrong) or delivered exceptional service, products or value.

Whilst it is impossible to guarantee a hassle free outcome for you, feedback from you and other users will help prospective customers avoid disasters or being completely ripped off by less scrupulous, cowboy installers who set out to deceive, like this company…….

  1. Please read reviews left by fellow homeowners,
  2. Check the claims made by companies without them knowing,
  3. Satisfy yourself that they are what they seem,
  4. Then and only then add them to your shortlist.
  5. When you are ready for a quote, send an automated email to your selected companies.

Then recommend doubleglazingcompanies.com to your friends!

Thanks for reading.

Whilst we will try to help if we can, sadly we are unable to resolve complaints directly.

Email us here if you cannot find the company you are looking for or if we can help further.

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Want new windows, just change the glass!

window fitter

Seems the glass industry wants to cut out the middle man, the frame manufacturers!

Okay you need to know this is written by a frame manufacturer so it may be biased but according to reports, there is much talk and activity in DECC and OFGEM about the possibility of homeowners just replacing the glass in old windows. The theory being that PVC frames are reasonably efficient and the bulk of the energy gains and heat savings comes from thermally efficient sealed units. Remove an old sealed unit once misted up with a u value of say 2.8 and insert a new one at around U = 1 and you extend the life of the window.

Result?

Well perhaps, but inevitably the glazing gaskets and frame seals would need to be replaced, hinges will be tired, screws worked lose and the window hardware dated. By the time each of these components has been changed the costs will be getting close to a new window. OK there is less mess because the frame is fitted and remains, but generally there is very little mess when replacing one PVC frame for another.

Although this could provide a cheaper solution and be a “green” less resource hungry solution, it assumes the original windows were good to start with. Unfortunately, so many of the early windows were poorly made, corners were cut and often inappropriate styles fitted.

In addition, building regulations have changed, fire egress may now be required, fittings may now be obsolete or unlawful, and if different glass is being used will the existing frame be capable of carrying the new units.

Having spent years getting the industry regulated with competent persons schemes like Fensa and CERTASS, what level of compliance will be expected? Will an installer be obliged to confirm they have installed safety glass or unregulated free for all so rouges fit any old unit without any recourse if wrong? We already have some installers overcharging for sealed units quoting £150 for a unit which costs just £20!

Seems the Green Deal guru’s only consider energy efficiency, they have completely overlooked the fact that homeowners also buy windows for to enhance security and the aesthetics of their home as well.

Apparently the BRE are now being asked to conduct a proper evaluation but with the major glass companies (SGG, Pilkington, AGC and Guardian) pushing the idea with the GGF, you know it will be well supported.

Whilst I understand the benefits that good sealed units bring, I personally believe home owners will appreciate new windows complete with new frames, hardware and window furniture will provide far more years of untroubled life than units alone will offer.

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Green deal door to door scams reported in Hackney

burglar break in

Some of us have wanted to improve our industry, for too many years double glazing was the butt of jokes and slick high pressure selling tactics created a fear that every company was crooked, out to con customers and run away with their money.

Thankfully while some hang onto the days of selling on the night, most businesses are now happy to provide written quotes so that you have time to consider your options, no pressure to buy. IBG’s are now common place and being offered one is compulsory or standard so that deposits are safe. In short it’s a different experience to 30 years ago.

That’s why when stories start to circulate like this one written by Jaber Mohamed in This is Local London about salesmen who

falsely claiming to be from the authority who are offering energy efficiency assessments, after residents in Seven Sisters reported fake Green Deal advisors coming door-to-door touting for business in the area or callers claimed to be working on behalf of the council and tried to enter people’s homes to carry out assessments and then pressured people to commit to having energy efficiency works carried out.”

 

The government has created the opportunity for misrepresentation now which has spurned opportunists scams.

 

As they explain,

1. Green deal advisors conducting assessments organised by the council will only attend pre-booked appointments and will never enter someone’s home without prior arrangement.

2. Under the government-funded Green Deal scheme, only registered assessors, providers and installers are authorised to offer energy efficiency advice or carry out home improvement works financed by Green Deal.

3. An authorised advisor should carry proper identification and should never try to enter your home without being invited.

4. Assessments should also only ever be offered on a no-obligation basis – with no pressure to pay for follow-up work.

If you are in any doubt you can find out more at www.haringey4020.org.uk or contact the council’s housing retrofit officer Minka McInerney on 020 8489 3260.

Unfortunately, in all walks of life, there will be people who prey on the vulnerabilities of others, people will impersonate officials to con homeowners, but just as in double glazing these few rouges do not represent the green Deal nor the home improvement industry, yet they damage it for years.

Never entertain someone selling to you, ask them to visit you when you want them to come, take time to check their credentials, verify they are who they say they are and remember the better companies on this web site display their accreditations , so that you can check the claims being made are true.

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Relaxation in planning regulations allows homeowners to build bigger extensions without planning permission

construction planners

In this the first of a regular monthly feature, our consultant town planning expert explains the effect of new changes to the planning regulations and considers some of the implications for your business and your customers seeking to improve their homes. In future features he’ll look at how the local planning authorities react to these and other changes being made to ‘cut red tape’ and ‘streamline’ the planning process, and offer tips and advice on the planning and conservation issues that are important to you and your customer.

Bigger, easier, quicker house extensions?

From the 30th May a temporary relaxation in planning regulations was introduced that allows householders and home owners, to build bigger home extensions without the need to first obtain planning permission. But how will this work and what will be the impact?

Like so much else in life, ‘the devil is in the detail’…

A kick-start for the home improvement sector

The Coalition Government’s Growth and Infrastructure Act (2013) aims to help kick-start the economy through a variety of measures, from major infrastructure projects such as the new HS2 railway line through to detailed changes to various planning regulations. And it’s not only HS2 that is controversial!

A temporary change to the Permitted Development Rights of householders came into force on 30th May 2013, for a three year period. This doubles the length of a single storey rear extension that homeowners can build without the need for planning permission. Critics have said that this could lead to a rash of unsightly developments springing up and spark feuds between neighbours.

A new prior approval notification process is introduced to replace the need for certain types of planning application. This will be free to the householder and the local authority must give a decision within a 6 week timescale.

The change only affects a rear extension of between 3-6m length for an attached house and 4-8m length for a detached house. Clearly, such extensions will need windows, patio-doors or roof lights to give adequate daylight to the deep rooms created, and the type of extension now permitted by this could include for example, adding a rear conservatory extension onto the back of an existing rear extension; the type of proposal that might ordinarily be refused by the local authority.

Prior approval process

The change involves amendment to the ‘GPDO’ permitted development legislation[i] to create a new prior approval process for certain types of householder rear extension, whereby the owner, rather than submitting a planning application for approval (at fee of £175), instead makes a prior approval notification to the local authority.

The ‘GPDO’ permitted development legislation has the effect of giving planning permission for specified types of minor development – these are known as Permitted Development Rights. The amendment to Part 1 of the GDPO extends the Permitted Development Rights of the householder of a ‘dwelling house’ but not of flats.

Also excluded are houses in designated areas (known as Article 1(5) land) which include: Conservation Areas, Areas or Outstanding Natural Beauty, the National Parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The rear extensions permitted must be erected during the 3 year period from 30/05/2013 to 30/05/2016. The local authority has 6 weeks to complete a consultation process with the immediate neighbours and then notify the owner of their decision.

If a neighbour objects the local authority must consider whether to accept or reject the proposal on a narrow range of grounds only. If no neighbour objects, the local authority is obliged to accept the development – regardless of whether it infringes local planning policies and guidelines.

How will it work?

The new prior approval process will only apply to proposals for a 3m – 6m or 4m – 8m rear householder extension. All other restrictions and processes under Part 1 of the GPDO remain unchanged. So for example, existing rights and controls governing the replacement of windows are unchanged, as the limits on the proportion of a garden that might be built upon or the requirement for obscured glazing on certain aspects.

The Building Regulations are not affected.

The developer must notify their local authority before starting works and provide information that includes “a written description of the proposed development” and “a plan indicating the site and showing the proposed development”.

The local authority will consult the immediately adjoining neighbours for a minimum period of 21 days. If one of the these owners or occupiers objects then the planning permission granted by the amended GPDO will apply “only if the local planning authority consider that it would not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of adjoining premises”. The local authority will have to consider the case and either approve or refuse the application within 42 days. In the latter case the applicant would have the right to appeal.

If no one objections, the local authority is obliged to accept the development. If the local authority fails to notify the applicant of a decision within 42 days, then the applicant can proceed to erect the extension.

What are the implications? The ‘Devil is in the detail…’

The regulations require that if any adjoining neighbour objects, then the local authority will have to assess the impact of the extension upon the “amenity” of “all adjoining premises”.  To assess this impact, the local authority “may require the developer to submit such further information regarding the proposed development as the local planning authority may reasonably require in order to consider the impact of the proposed development on the amenity of any adjoining premises”.

It is already clear that local authorities will interpret these requirements for plans and information differently. While Government is trying to reduce the level of detail required compared to conventional planning applications, sufficient information is needed for the local authority to: (a) check the proposal falls within the limits of the Permitted Development Rights; and (b) enable them to assess the impact in the event of a neighbour objection.

It is already clear that some local authorities are likely to say they need very similar drawings and information as required for a conventional planning application; others look like taking a ‘lighter-touch’ approach. So one immediate impact is that there will be inconsistencies between the different local authority areas in which you work and you will need to get to grips with this.

The process requires the local authorities to do almost the same work as for a conventional planning application but for no fee and with further cuts set to hit their budgets – the likelihood is that local authorities will be less able or inclined to spend time and resources negotiating improvements to minor planning proposals in order to make them acceptable, in which case they may refuse. They’ll also be less inclined to answer informal enquires about this too.

It will be important that get the proposal drawing and supporting information right in the first place. For this you’ll need increasingly to inform yourself with advice from independent advisors and ‘self-help’ using local authority and other web sites.

The changes only benefit rear extensions between 3m – 6m or 4m – 8m, so if, for example, the proposed development extends slightly to the side of the original property or fills too much of the garden area it will fall outside these new Permitted Development Rights. So the question of whether or not a proposal has the benefit of the Rights will be a key issue.

The total number of qualifying extensions could be few – by the Government’s own estimate the number of home extensions per year made as a result of these changes will increase by only 1.7%.

Consider my advice

I believe this could be part of big changes to come in the control of small scale development. I’ll keep you up to date through this feature on the impact and consequences of these changes.

Where you’re involved in a rear extension proposal that may quality for these Permitted Development Rights, my advice to you is:

Encourage the householder to talk to the neighbours first about their ideas rather than rely on the local authority to inform them. This is good for neighbourly relations and may avoid formal neighbour objections; this will save time and the further involvement of the local authority. Remember, if the neighbours don’t object then the local authority are obliged to approve any qualifying proposal whether it breaches their other preferred design guidelines or not!

Discourage clients from ‘skimping’ too much on the plans and information submitted – too little detail and the local authority may decline to ‘register’ the prior approval notification in the first place or they may refuse it (where a neighbour objects) because there is insufficient information with which to make a sound assessment – if in doubt the Planner will by instinct ‘err on the side of caution’.

This temporary change is well worth exploiting where a householder wishes to add a rear conservatory extension onto the back of a planned or existing rear extension – cases that are often unpopular with the Planners.

This will not affect Conservation Areas and may be a temporary arrangement that affects few cases, and you might say “this has little to do with the double glazing business!” But depending on how it is received…. it could lead to further changes in the planning regulations and the manner in which local authorities can and want to be involved in smaller scale householder development.

This could have major consequences for the industry, so watch this space….

These views are those of

Michael Thornton MRTPI

Regrettably we are unable to answer any specific planning issue however we do try to offer general answers on the blog, please add your comment.

The amendments are being introduced by Statutory Instrument 2013 No. 1101 “The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013″

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