Whether you are an experienced self-builder or about to take on your own build for the first time, you will have a vision for what you want to achieve. When it comes to the windows and doors, you are dealing with the fundamental fabric of the building so it really is worth doing your homework to discover the right product for your own property.
People can spend months considering kitchen and bathroom style, fixtures and fittings, but the same level of attention to detail for your windows and doors really will pay you dividends in creating a property you can be proud of.
The first place to start is to understand the difference that windows and doors make to the external fabric of the building. There are a lot of styles available and you need to think carefully about what will work for your project – not just from an aesthetic perspective but on a practical level as well.
Match the windows to the proposed style of your building as well as the spec wanted, but be careful not to over specify unnecessarily. Consider the purpose of the space, for example you don't need to go for the very highest quality windows if you are building an occasional use garden room. Respect the period of the property; a modern build will naturally suit a contemporary style, whilst an older building may lend itself to sash windows. Of course, if the project is being built from scratch you have the flexibility to be versatile.
It is also vitally important to consider the location of your build. For example, if you are building in an exposed location – on top of a moor or by the sea – that is likely to be open to extreme weather, then carefully research the required performance aspects of the windows and doors. If this is the case, consider selecting a higher spec glass and look at the option of aluminium cladding on the exterior of the timber. The addition of aluminium cladding will enable the windows to take more bangs and knocks and be more durable in tough conditions.
If you are building in exposed locations, opt for storm proof windows as they are built for purpose. Also, forget old wives tales and preconceived ideas such as sash windows banging and rattling in the wind. With today’s modern materials and manufacturing technologies problems such as these have long since dissolved.
Consider wider issues such as access, safety and security. For example, you don’t want a window above a conservatory because not only will it be difficult to clean, but might not comply with fire safety precautions. Do ensure that the products selected comply with the British Standard Security Regulations.
Open doors to the right products for you
When it comes to doors, think carefully about what is going to work best for the way you live as well as how they look. Apart from main entrance doors, your thoughts should be focused on door set options – for example, does your garden call for french or bi-folding doors.
Bi-folds have become extremely popular, and they give great access when fully open. However, do recognise that bi-folds have more vertical obstructions when closed compared to French and Patio. The opposite is true for patio and French doors, which give a clear view when closed but won’t give full access when open.
If time is a priority, opt for factory finished window and doors, made to measure and to your specifications that arrive on site fully finished and ready to fit. Remember that good quality timber windows and doors that are factory finished are also likely to have additional qualities such as guarantees on the timber, hardware and the paint finishes. The length of guarantees will be different for each aspect but for your own peace of mind you should be looking for a manufacturer that can offer 30 year guarantees for rot and fungal infection, eight years on paint finishes and ten years on double glazed units and hardware. Nothing is truly maintenance free, but timber windows and doors with strong guarantees make your role in their upkeep as simple as possible.
Ensure whoever is specifying your build, be it project manager or builder, is working to the same standards that you expect. Always choose the windows and doors alongside your specifier and research the project yourself. Make it your business to know what is going into the fabric of the build if you are devolving some of the decisions to another party.
When it comes to price look at the lifecycle costs not just the purchase price. Timber windows and doors are now shown to have a lifecycle of around 50 years compared to uPVC which have around a 25 year lifecycle. When it comes to timber, quality is the key and you will get what you pay for. Do your research well in advance of the build and thoroughly understand exactly what you are getting. Windows and doors are such a critical component of a building and, if chosen correctly, will not only stand the test of time, but become an asset.