What Regulations Govern Double Glazing Installers.
The over-riding Regulations governing the installation of double glazing are contained within the the Government’s Approved Document L (Fuel Conservation) complementing the new energy efficiency regulations, which was issued on 1 October 2010.
This legislation extended Building Regulations to cover replacement window and door installation. From April 2002, all installers and buyers of replacement windows and doors are required to comply with improved energy efficiency requirements. Introduced to reduce heat loss in order to conform to more stringent energy efficiency targets. Glass products will be expected to have lower heat loss, measured by their “U” value.
In addition to these more stringent product specifications all installations are now open to inspection by Local Authority Building Control, unless arrangements for self-assessment have been made.
As the annual rate of replacement window installations averages approximately 2 million, clearly the Local Authority Building Control service could not cope with that level of installation and a serious backlog would occur and the rate of installation would be seriously curtailed. Not only would the public at large be inconvenience but the Government targets on energy efficiency would be seriously affected.
For this reason a self regulating system was introduced within the trade to govern and oversee proper standards in accordance with the legislative requirements were being maintained. This overseeing organisation is referred to as FENSA.( Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme).
So what steps should be taken to ensure that no contravention of legislation is taking place and that the home-owner need not apply for building regulation approval.
Before you sign a contract to buy any replacement glazing, be sure to ask whether the installer is able to self-certify. Ask if they areFENSA registered. If not, an application to Local Authority Building Control for approval under the Building Regulations will need to be made by either the installer or the home-owner. Should it necessary a charge will be made by the local authority.
Self certification will cover the following issues- Where a window or windows is/are completely replaced (as opposed to repaired) in existing dwellings, they must comply with Approved Documents Parts L1 and N (safety in relation to impact). In addition, the building should not end up with a worse level of compliance with respect to other applicable parts of Building Regulations, which includes Parts A (Structure), B (means of escape in case of fire) F (ventilation), J (combustion appliances and fuel storage systems) and M (access for the disabled).
Building Regulations for replacement windows state that “The situation must be made no worse than the outgoing windows” for example if the outgoing windows contained trickle vents the new placement windows must include them there are no exceptions, the window openings must be the same or better than the outgoing windows the openings cannot be made any smaller. Side window openings cannot be replaced by top openings over fixed windows.
Windows and doors in critical locations ie Windows below 800mm from floor level and doors where the glass comes within 1500mm of the floor level to the start of the glass must contain safety glass (toughened or laminated) and must include the relevant safety mark clearly visibly to comply with Building Regulation N.
The self regulating scheme overseen by FENSA.
If FENSA is the self regulating ‘police force’ within the double glazing ickle it is worth knowing more about the organisation and how it operates.
FENSA regards itself as the leading regulatory body within the double glazing industry for windows and doors working with thousands of installers throughout the country and offering an overseeing security to the client.
The Government have expressed confidence in the FENSA certification scheme An independent report commissioned by the Government found FENSA to be the most successful of all competent person schemes to date in the UK, across all industries. They are satisfied that a FENSA overseen installer will install products to such a standard as to ensure compliance with the appropriate product requirements and will meet building regulation standards in terms of the installation.
FENSA offer the following statement;
- You do not have to register your window or door installation with the local authority yourself. Not only is the FENSA approach much faster and easier – it will also save you up to £250!
- Compliance with the Building Regulations without the added cost and time of arranging assessment by Building Control
- If you own properties across different local authorities – for consistency of quality and price, you are able to use the same FENSAinstaller for all installations, as they can work in all Local Authority jurisdictions
All work carried out by a FENSA installer must:
- Give ‘Deposit Protection’ (where deposit is taken)
- Give a 5 – 10 year guarantee
- Offer ‘insurance backed guarantee’ for added peace of mind to cover the installer’s own guarantee
FENSA’s role in enabling companies to self certify compliance with the building regulations and disciplining those who are not complying with the regulations provides them with kudos amongst installers. Established businesses feel that they can rely onFENSA to report companies that practice foul play and keep them informed about the outcome.
Those considering double glazing installation should avoid the temptation to accept cash in hand deals, or installation work that is not insured by guarantees including illegal work that does not comply with building regulations. To do so could be a costly experience. Using a FENSA registered contractor ensures that the work complies in all respects and carries a longer guarantee that the product will remain problem free.