It’s been two weeks now since we had new windows fitted to the front of the house and I’m absolutely over the moon with them (catch up with where it all started here and here). It’s quieter, warmer and they look absolutely beautiful from both outside and in.
A lot of time had passed between when I booked them in and when they were fitted and as the weeks flew by I went from being very excited to quite nervous – after all, just three windows costs a few thousand pounds and can really affect the value of your house if they’re not done properly. Thankfully The Window Clinic did a truly excellent job and so here are some tips if you’re thinking of replacing yours:
- Get Quotes – common sense right? Well, yes. But I have been known to have one company come in and quote for a job and been so convinced by my gut feelings that I haven’t bothered with getting any further quotes. I had three companies come round in one day and the quotes varied wildly from £11,600 for the whole house, to £17,600!!!
- Ask for a breakdown – the first company who came to quote (incidentally the most expensive) scribbled their final sum down on the back of a bit of paper. They could have cost 50p, I was never going to use them after that. The other two companies provided detailed breakdowns for every room including sketches of each window and where the agreed openings would be.
- Think about style – putting the wrong style of windows on the wrong style of house can affect value. For example, putting very modern windows on our 1930s house simply wouldn’t look right and it would be obvious. Start looking at windows as you’re walking around (everywhere we went for weeks I was obsessively staring at windows). If you see any styles you like, try to take sneaky phone pics or look for them on the internet. We opted for astragal Georgian bars on the fanlights, resembling period but with a clean modern finish. It’s also important that whatever you go for in the bottom windows, you do the same in the top. Don’t be tempted to vary it, it will look wrong.
- Wood or uPVC? – again, if you have a period house, sash windows might be a feature for you and normally the recommendation would be to maintain wooden ones. We opted for uPVC because they work better in a bay window and the company we went with were able to recreate a style I was happy with
- Equal sightline – this is something I knew nothing about until I started looking at other houses. I didn’t know why some of them had lovely uniform looking windows from the outside and others were all over the place. Equal sightline is where from the outside you can’t tell which windows open and which don’t. It does cost more but looks much smarter. The first company didn’t give us this as an option. Fanlights in the top windows will generally be narrower than the ones on the ground floor as first windows tend to be slightly smaller (see the above picture for an example).
- Changing the layout of your windows – look for a company who will discuss things with you such as whether you want them to open in the same place/way as they currently do. We’ve changed our living room and the bedroom above it to have the openers in different and more sensible places.
- Be aware of building regulations – only the last company who came to quote told me that because our window sill in the living room is below a certain height, we would need to have security-toughened glass in the windows there. This is a building regulation requirement – a company should not charge extra for this, but it is mandatory so if you’re not informed about that kind of thing, steer clear.
- Fire escape windows – it is a legal requirement now that all habitable rooms should have a means of escape in case of fire. In our case, the opening in our office room is too small to be able to escape from if only one window is open. Therefore it was designed in such a way that both main windows open fully outwards. Hopefully we’ll never need to try climbing out of it. Again, only the third company told us about this.
- Accessories and extras – a good company should offer you a choice of handles for your windows as well as locking mechanisms. If you need any windowsills replacing, they should be able to take care of that too (we had a plastic sill inside in the bedroom which we had swapped out for a wooden one).
- Payment – it goes without saying that new windows are expensive, far more expensive than we were anticipating. Some companies won’t offer payment plans or payment by card so you might be restricted with what you can afford. We had to budget for our front windows but can’t afford the rest yet, it’s on our to-do list!
We feel very lucky that The Window Clinic turned out to be the cheapest of the three who quoted but also offered far and away the best quality in terms of their attention to detail, right up my street! OH jokes that I’ve found my anal retentive calling in life (I’ve never been fussed about detail whatsoever, not even when we got married) and he might just be right.