Replacing timber windows in heritage properties is a costly business for homeowners. They will respond more favourably than most, says Mighton’s Mike Derham, to knowing more about their investment and how to protect it
The owners of period properties, especially those of buildings that are protected, have invested not merely to put a roof over their heads, but often commit to the property emotionally; for many the building becomes a member of the family. Thus the care and cash that they lavish upon their home may be compared to that given to an aging but much loved aunt though legacy apart, the investment should last longer.
A substantial market has developed for replacement vertical sliding sash windows produced in modern materials for properties that are not covered under conservation area restrictions or under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act of 1990. But where such restrictions do apply the only choice for replacement windows is inevitably timber; and that normally requires a significant financial investment on the part of the homeowner, one that will often test their pockets.
Timber replacement sash windows may be considered a luxury, high-end item even though their purchase is usually driven by need as much as desire. And as with any luxury purchases well considered and intelligent marketing will bring great rewards to the supplying installer.
Homeowners purchasing high quality timber windows are driven by quality, having accepted that replacement timber sash windows will cost them a great deal of money. But having made the financial commitment they then expect the very best. That should include not just the timber and the craftsmanship, but also the fixtures and fittings and the obvious details such as the beads and coatings.
For windows that may well cost well in excess of £1500 for an average sized frame, one would have thought that each would be fitted with the very best hardware possible. However, to my eternal astonishment there remain manufacturers who might otherwise consider themselves as artisans who continue to scrimp by fitting substandard fittings. Ten pounds or so saved during manufacture will be revealed to the owner within a few months of installation. The first – and blindingly obvious – commitment to customer service must be to give them the very best hardware and finishes with their associated guarantees.
At the sales stage homeowners spending large sums of money on their homes will always appreciate knowing the provenance of their new windows. Knowing the tiniest details of how their frames are made will contribute not only to their peace of mind but will bring rewards to the installer in the inevitable conversations with neighbours and relatives over a glass of wine. Recommendation is the most powerful tool in an installer’s marketing arsenal; conversely customer dissatisfaction is a savage destroyer of reputations, especially in the age of the Internet.
Beading on timber windows is commonly one of the first parts to show wear and tear. For the beads to live up to the same lifespan as the rest of the window joiners should look to opt for high quality, certified brands such as Accoya, where the maintenance required is minimal and protective coatings adhere better to the substrate when first installed. Guarantees of up to 10 years will do much to calm the fears of homeowners praying for as long as possible before they have to consider even routine maintenance for their frames.
To give these customers the quality assurance they undoubtedly look for, offer a comprehensive maintenance package to help their customer improve the lifespan of their purchase. Introduced at the marketing stage this may even be part of a subscribed planned maintenance package but homeowners will be inexorably drawn to any company promising to stick by them at least through the earlier years of the life of their new frames. Having installed the very best hardware, long life beads and high quality finishes – Mighton Ultra paints and finishes are among the very best available – for the frames, the cost of regular maintenance visits should be limited to an inspection, light lubrication and a wipe over. The value of such a package will be immeasurable and actually, will close the sale and produce recommendations as the happy homeowner spreads the word.