Strategic glazing specification

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Kevin Bonnar of Velfac explains how to get to market faster and improve return on investment with strategic glazing specification.

Glazing is one of the most important building products in any low rise or ‘plot by plot’ housebuilding project. High quality, stylish windows and doors ensure efficient thermal and acoustic performance while adding value and differentiating a project from its competitors.  A strategic approach to glazing specification is therefore crucial to success, to meet cost and performance targets, fully realise the benefits offered by bespoke solutions, and ensure swift, first time compliance so that properties get to market as quickly as possible.

Part Q compliant products

The key glazing criteria for any housing development is compliance with Building Regulation Part Q, which demands enhanced security features on easily accessible doors and windows. This applies not just to ground floor installations, but also to any units installed two metres above a flat or sloping surface such as a balcony, garage or porch. This could mean that every unit in an entire housing project, especially those featuring communal balconies or walkways, has to be Part Q compliant, and with test evidence to prove it.

Part Q is also an essential component of Secured by Design – an initiative prospective buyers may know more about than Part Q, and which can provide important market advantage, instilling greater confidence in your development and underlining the quality of your construction and your values as a housebuilder.

By specifying Part Q compliant products right from the start, security becomes an essential part of the build, not just an afterthought, and your development will pass its Part Q inspection first time. If any units specified fail a Part Q inspection then this can be very costly – every non-compliant window or door will have to be replaced, adding to costs and putting a brake on final delivery.

CWCT standards

Many housing developments now feature large glazed areas to create the elusive ‘wow’ factor that can boost sales. If you are planning to install glazed screens that cross a floor slab (rising above a front door, for example, or around a stair well), then plan ahead to meet CWCT (Centre for Window and Cladding Technology) standards.

Consult with your window supplier at the design stage to make sure any planned screens meet the standards required – this consultancy process can also provide a valuable ‘reality check’ on designs which may in practice prove too expensive or impractical to execute.

Specify bespoke windows & doors

High quality windows should be bespoke to a project, so contact potential suppliers as early as possible during the planning stage to fully exploit the features and benefits that bespoke manufacture can deliver.

For example, extra-large windows are becoming increasingly popular among today’s home buyers, and also deliver a host of performance and cost advantages.  Larger glass areas reduce relative cost per square metre rates (because the frame is the most expensive part of any window), lower U-values (as glass is a better insulator than the frame), and increase natural light levels in the home.

However, often these extra-large windows (especially if they are opening units) can only be supplied bespoke – so rather than realise later on in a project that your range of options is limited, talk to a bespoke glazing manufacturer from the earliest planning stage and specify better quality, more cost-effective windows, tailored specifically to your development and with the potential to add greater value to your project.

The key to successful specification

It is far more cost effective to choose a supplier which offers technical and design support, performance consultancy and testing, and test evidence as part of the glazing package.  Suppliers which deliver only product may be reducing supply costs by cutting corners rather than considering best value for the project, such as providing test data only when demanded by building inspectors, rather than before.

Suppliers investing in technical support and testing programmes can already supply data on Part Q compliance, and on performance criteria such as air tightness, wind and water resistance, acoustic control and U-values. This can help achieve a speedy sign off from Building Control and from insurance providers such as NHBC, LABC or Premier Guarantee, allowing properties to get to market as soon as they are completed.

By choosing a supplier willing to invest up front in crucial support services, you can save significant time and money during the specification and building phases, and increase profit margins when developments go on sale.

Kevin Bonnar is housebuilding sales manager at Velfac