There’s little doubt that compared to old and single glazed windows the double glazed variety offers a number of significant advantages. Modern uPVC materials for a start are more resistant to damage, corrosion and have a longer lifespan that aluminium, iron or wood frames (if the latter have been poorly maintained). When it comes to life expectancy wood can actually beat uPVC but the amount of maintenance required is considerable and in this sense uPVC can outperform wood. Double glazing also has better thermal insulation qualities and can help reduce condensation (and therefore damage and/or moulds). Modern techniques include using argon in the ‘air-gap’ between panes of glass. This is an inert gas that reduces corrosion and, as it is heavier than air, conducts heat at a lower rate. Argon can retain heat in the home and block extremes of temperature from outside more effectively than air. If you’re replacing, or installing new windows there’s no doubt that the double glazing option offers the best solution to help heat your home and reduce the heating bills. There are, however, a number of planning and building regulation factors to take into account before you take the plunge, rip out the old windows and phone an installer (not actually the recommended order in which to do things!).
Normally you don’t need planning permission to conduct various tasks relating to doors and windows, but there are exceptions. For listed properties there may be specific rules and you may require permission to install replacement windows, especially modern, uPVC double glazing. Permission is not impossible to get but speak to your local planners and building conservation officer first. If you go ahead without permission (later finding you need it) the process becomes costly, frustrating and may mean you have to remove any new windows. The same applies in conservation areas – where permitted development rights may have been removed. Again, it’s not impossible to get permission but you’ll need to contact your local planners. To find your local authority, check this link and for detailed information on planning regulations visit the Planning Portal. In most areas however, planning permission is not required for repairs, minor improvements or new windows if they are of a similar appearance to the old version. Again, before installing it’s worth checking with your local authority.
Building regulations will apply to replacement glazing; this includes glazed doors as well as new windows. There are safety aspects to the regulations and they also relate to the thermal qualities of the glazing. Safety aspects include when and where safety glass is required, fire safety aspects and use of windows as means of escape. Ventilation is also covered in the building regulations and requirements will depend on the type and size of room in which the window/door is being fitted. In modern buildings specific requirements may also relate to doors in order to comply with modern disability access regulations.
Time Saving Installers
Most of us will use an installer when it comes to new windows and doors, double glazed or otherwise. In this case there are a number of advantages – not least in that the installer should know what they’re doing, be able to fit windows quickly and efficiently, and understand regulations, as well as supply the correct materials. In addition many reputable installers have FENSA registration. Choosing a FENSA installer offers a number of significant advantages and one of the biggest is the building regulations issue. FENSA registered companies are permitted to ‘self-certify’ for building regulations purposes. This cuts down paperwork, time and saves money. Building control surveys will not be required – saving you time and money – the FENSA brand is recognised nationally by local authorities so installers can operate in any local authority area, so if you want windows and doors in Leeds, or conservatories in Chiswick you can use the same installers.
FENSA operates a continuous policy of inspections and checks on its registered installers which means that you can be sure that a company is up-to-date with current regulations and is still qualified to fit your windows within the legal requirements. There are also a number of requirements for FENSA installers to hold insurance and offer guarantees on their work. These mean that if you have problems with the windows you should be covered for the full term of the guarantee. When choosing an installer it’s worth double checking that they are currently FENSA registered, as this certainly cuts down on paperwork, time, and money. Also double check with your local planning authority to ensure that there are no restrictions on your property or on the immediate area. In most cases, fitting double glazing should be a straightforward process and one that will, in the long term save plenty of money on heating your home.