John Whalley of Nationwide Windows & Doors discusses the latest fenestration trends in new builds.
With calls to ‘fix the broken housing market’ in the headlines, and senior ministers urging the Government to take advantage of record low interest rates and borrow to invest in new homes – up to 300,000 every year – new build is now firmly under the spotlight.
Record profits for major housebuilders and Theresa May’s £2bn affordable home pledge are no doubt injecting a sense of urgency and requirement for innovation within the new build supply chain. Fast moving markets require investment to meet demand for volume, while keeping the focus on consistent quality and seamless service. Being a single supply partner able to offer multiple solutions appears to be proving key to achieving a lean and efficient supply chain.
One of the most significant trends in the fenestration market over the last few years has been the demand from housebuilders and developers for a ‘one stop shop’. The variety of housing now being constructed on many sites demands a mix of door and window solutions. Larger developments generally have a combination of single dwelling homes and multiple occupancy dwellings, which in turn require not only different product styles but also different materials.
For example, aluminium entrance systems are best for high traffic areas, while PVCu can be more cost-effective and versatile to match the build style of the rest of the homes. Naturally, the door and window specifications for high end multi-million pound homes are different to affordable housing. Add to this cavity closers, curtain walling, the legal requirements for fire doors and security considerations through next generation hardware and composite doors, and the complexity of the door and window solutions required for even one new build site is evident. Traditionally, a housebuilder would have to use multiple suppliers to fulfil all these requirements, but through the investment in manufacturing, product development and range expansion, some single suppliers are able to meet all these demands.
Although the 1980s saw the introduction of first generation PVCu whitewash our buildings and homes, colour is now a major driver. In fact, one in four windows in the UK is now coloured, with RAL7016 Anthracite Grey proving particularly popular. That said, through product development and investment in coating, painting and drying technologies, almost any colour and finish is now available. There has even been a blurring of lines between aesthetics and materials, such as smooth grained anthracite grey PVCu windows that look exactly like aluminium. When it comes to desire for urban design, there’s also been growth in demand for long, slimline glass cassettes within full height doors which have a European feel to them.
Secured By Design (SBD) is a passport for any door and window supplier working in new build and, along with many accreditations, is hugely important. Not only does it offer peace of mind to homeowners who will eventually move into the property, SBD products can help keep live build sites safe too.
Supplying housebuilders is hard, with margins often tight, so it’s critical that suppliers have a deep understanding of the sector, develop close, collaborative relationships and invest in product ranges, infrastructure and IT that allows them to provide the right products at the right time, every time.
John Whalley is managing director of Nationwide Windows & Doors