Advice for homeowners

Harry

Meet your
FENSA Advisor

This is Harry.

You might recognise him from our TV ad.

Harry works for a FENSA Approved installation company. He's on a mission to help professionalise installers and protect homeowners across the UK, so he started this advice column.

What you need to know about your windows

There is far more to windows than just picking the ones you like the look of. We're afraid to say that there is much to consider when choosing new windows than simply what they look like. You have to think about building regulations, certification (when selling your home), thermal performance etc. Then on top of that, you have to make sure you don't get a cowboy fitter... So what do you need to know? This post will give you the basics

 

Thinking of replacing your windows?

 

All replacement glazing comes within the scope of the building regulations. Anyone who installs replacement windows or doors must comply with current thermal performance standards. You may be asking "Why" right now - it's basically to ensure the reduction of energy loss is in line with Government policy. But there is a plus side for you too, lower heating bills, so it's not all bad.

 

When selling your property, your purchaser's solicitors will ask for evidence that any replacement glazing installed since April 2002 complies with building regulations. If you want to avoid any additional work or worry, you should make sure you have evidence of this in preparation - selling your home is stressful enough without searching for hard to find certificates, or even needing to get one if you don't have it at all. 

 

There are two ways to provide the certification you need:

 

A certificate showing that the work was carried out by a FENSA installer

 

A certificate from the local authority building control stating that the installation has been approved under the building regulations This first option is the easiest, and if you lose your certificate you can re-apply for a copy.

 

Even if you lose your FENSA certificate(s), you can apply for another copy online. This means that you never have to worry about misplacing this important evidence, as we always have access to these certifications. This simple option isn't available if your window installer is not FENSA registered, meaning if you don't choose to work with a registered installer, you will have to spend more time and money looking into it. 

 

So what is the FENSA scheme?

 

FENSA was set up by all the key industry bodies and trade associations the glass and glazing federation (GGF) at the request of the Communities and Local Government Department to allow registered companies to self-certify that their installations comply with the building regulations. This makes life easier for the industry, but also for consumers. Today FENSA is still very much industry-led in terms of its relationship with key trade bodies and with those companies that register as FENSA fitters.

 

FENSA informs local authorities of all completed registered installations and will issue a certificate to the homeowner confirming compliance. Any installation undertaken by a company that isn't registered, or by you as a DIY project, has to have full local authority building control approval. It is worth noting that the authorities know of all registered companies in the area and can easily identify unauthorised installations.

 

Self-Certification from FENSA Fitters

 

Before you sign a contract to buy your new replacement glazing, ask if your installer can self certify, i.e. if they are a FENSA fitter. A registered installer can carry out self-certification for building regulations, so you can be sure that the work is carried out to the highest standards, and you'll have the evidence of this that you need. 

 

If not, then you know you need to pop down the council and request an application for approval under the building regulations - but that is all a lot of time and effort, you will probably find it a lot easier just to use a FENSA fitter in the first place. If you're thinking of installing windows yourself with some DIY, FENSA certificates won't be as easy to come by as if you work with a registered fitter to complete the job to the required standards, who can also self-certify upon completion. 

 

When you're looking for a fitter to work with, it's important to ask if they are FENSA registered. This means you can not only be sure of the high quality of their work but also their capability to self-certify. You can save yourself time and money compared to the effort and expensive if your installer is not FENSA registered. 

 

More information

 

You can't self-certify your own work unless you are a registered installer, so DIY FENSA certificates are not something you can find. But it's simple to find an approved installer near you who can self-certify the project once complete. Working with a window installer who is not FENSA registered could cause you to waste a lot of extra time and money now and when it comes to selling your home. 

 

If you want more information our website has lots of information on FENSA and what it all means to you as a homeowner. We also provide you with a search facility to find an installer in your area, advice and a guide on spotting cowboys.

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What to check before appointing an installer

Check that you use a FENSA Approved Installer but also check the following:

  • Ask family and friends who have used installers about their satisfaction and whether they got a FENSA certificate.
  • Check the installer's references by talking to their previous customers.
  • Get at least three quotes and check you are being quoted like for like.
  • Cheapest is not always best and good contractors are always in demand.
  • Get quotes, timeframes and the fact that you will get a FENSA certificate all in writing. A proper written contract with an agreed completion date will help prevent confusion later on
  • Check the warranty on the installer's work and ensure they have enough insurance to cover their warranty. Domestic glazing installers that are registered with a competent person scheme like FENSA are legally obliged to provide warranty insurance to cover your installation should the company cease to trade within the life of the warranty.
A GGF Group Company