In his recent letter, Mark Barsby, VEKA UK, says “Planners and purchasers can specify/buy what they want, but selling on fashion and beauty should not be the only method.” He adds: “90mm+ systems with many chambers are all well and good but they are consuming approximately 30% more raw materials without equivalent improvements in performance.”
Today, purchasers expect their windows to meet all their basic needs. They expect excellent weather performance, security and energy efficiency. They expect low maintenance and a long, trouble free life. Like everything else they expect their windows will be recycled at the end of their life, and they will. But they don’t get excited by needs, any more than they get excited about separating their household refuse into different recycling bins each week. And they won’t pay any more for them.
Perhaps deliberately, Mark concentrates on their needs and plays down their wants. But purchasers have moved on.
Conspicuously, traditional PVC-U window systems have made no headway in conservation areas and listed buildings. That’s despite trying for decades to ignore planners, and install inappropriate windows that stand out like a sore thumb. Perhaps it’s time the industry moved on too.
That’s why I based the design of R9 on the dimensions and detailing in Article 4 directions, the planners’ bible. Rather than try to persuade planners to accept standard shiny-white 70mm PVC-U windows they didn’t want, I designed windows the way they’re meant to be. R9’s 100mm system was not an arbitrary size, it was designed for period properties and the conservation market. And because R9 is exactly right, homeowners don’t have a battle on their hands. Planners recommend R9 to them.
If systems using less PVC-U were the answer, as Mark implies, he wouldn’t have discontinued his 58mm system.
Quite rightly Mark emphasises longevity, but most PVC-U windows are recycled well before their time. Typically, homeowners replace functioning PVC-U windows when they move home, retire, or see neighbours or friends upgrade their windows and doors. Usually they upgrade because they look tired, ugly or inappropriate, and they upgrade mostly because they want to, not because they have to. They upgrade to enhance the appearance of their home, so it looks the way they want it, or it looks the way it was meant to be.
They resent paying a penny more for windows they need and have to buy, and negotiate keenly to get the price down. But they’re happy to pay a lot more for the windows they want.
So let’s stop telling homeowners and planners what’s best for them, and listen to what they’re telling us.
Dan Gill, Chief Designer and MD
The Residence Collection