How to Avoid the Pitfalls and get Value for Money
Double glazing is an excellent way in which you can help towards reducing your home heating bills, however, it is also a rather expensive home improvement. Although the job is not complex, you will invariably employ the services of a double glazing firm to carry out the work for you.
Due to the high value product on offer, there is a great deal of competition amongst firms to gain your business and the industry has a somewhat murky reputation. This guide will attempt to clarify the double glazing buying process for consumers and what you should do if the job is not performed to your satisfaction.
Getting Double Glazing Quotes
Buying double glazing can be a costly business and there are large numbers of market savvy double glazing companies out there that will be more than happy to take your business. For this reason it is absolutely essential that you obtain quotes from at least four companies – the more the better, although it is important to note that double glazing companies are notorious in their telemarketing efforts so it would be wise to explicitly request that your details are not held in their database for marketing if you are simply requesting a quote.
It should be possible for you to see a range of double glazed windows in the company showroom or via their website. The advantage of using the Internet is that you can browse the range at your convenience and get a realistic impression of the prices you would need to pay in a non-pressurised environment. Once you have an idea of price and your specifications it would be beneficial to visit the showrooms and speak to a sales representative who will be able to quote you a price and offer you any available deals.
Upon short listing a handful of double glazing firms you should take into account the following questions:
- Can I pick from the full range of products on offer or am I dictated towards choosing a particular style by an offer?
- Can the company provide a list of satisfied customers in the area?
- Would it be possible for an official trade organisation (see contacts section) to recommend double glazing companies in my area?
- Do the windows carry a standard such as a BSI number?
- Does a Code of Practice cover the installers?
If the firm can satisfactorily cover the above questions you may want to request them to provide you with a quotation. You should stipulate that you require a firm quotation, not an estimate and you should not be coerced into signing any contract immediately.
It is essential that you receive a contract for double glazing work and that you are familiar with all the terms of the contract prior to signing because once the contract is signed it will be deemed as legally binding.
Areas that your contract should cover are as follows:
- The price along with the fees for any additional work. Ensure that the figure is quoted with VAT included and that the terms of payment are explicitly laid out.
- A full description of the work to be carried out and what you will be getting for the price (make sure that any offers are included).
- What date will the installation start and when will the work be completed in full.
- What materials are going to be used as part of the installation and the order in which the work will proceed?
- Any extras that are included in your service.
Payment (include deposits)
There are usually a number of payment options available for double glazing and it would be wise to check with your preferred suppliers as to what form of payment they will accept. Typical forms of payment consist of finance deals, which mean that you won’t begin payments until a certain pre-determined date; some companies may even offer interest free payments. It is vitally important that any finance deal is checked out thoroughly in terms of when you are expected to pay, what the interest rate will be, what the late payment fees will be, etc. Another popular option is to pay in stages. This involves paying for work as and when it has been done. This can be a safer option in case your double glazing company were to go out of business. It is important to note that you do not have to pay for work that has been done that you have not asked for, therefore, to back this claim up it is essential that you retain all invoices and contracts.
If you find an option that you are happy with and you are in a position to accept a quote, the double glazing company will likely ask you to pay a deposit. The deposit will usually be in the 20-30% range of the full price of the work to be carried out, although if possible, try not to pay any deposit at all because if the company was to go out of business without any work having taken place, you may have difficulty getting the deposit back. For this reason it is wise to pay for work on a credit card if possible. The reason for this is that it is easier to request a refund from your credit card issuer for services not rendered than it would be as a private individual to claim the money back from the liquidators if the company had gone bankrupt.
Legal (guarantees, read before signing)
Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, you as a consumer of goods and services are provided with certain rights. If your installation is not completed to a reasonable standard using the care and skill of an experienced company then the Act should be able to help you. If you do encounter problems and your double glazers have not fixed them after your request to do so, you would be entitled to bill the firm the reasonable cost of having the work done elsewhere.
It is advised that you should not sign a completion note or a note stipulating your satisfaction with the job as this could harm your case if you sought to gain damages.
Some companies will offer a guarantee on their work, which although it may look favourable, it would be worth obtaining additional insurance.
As is the case with any legal document be it a service contract or insurance, it is absolutely essential that you read all the small print and understand what you are signing prior to signing it because once it has been signed, it will be a legally binding document.
In some cases you may be able to cancel an executed contract provided that this has been done within 7 days of having signed the contract and the contract includes a customer cancellation option. If this is the case, you should put your cancellation request in writing to the company, keep copies of all documents and send the letter by courier to ensure that the company receives the request within the 7 day period.
In a small number of cases a double glazing installation will be performed unsatisfactorily, which may necessitate a complaint from the consumer. If a complaint to the double glazing company is received there is a possibility that the complainant may receive their money back in full, in part, or simply receive an apology if the complaint is successful.
Complaints can be long drawn out affairs so it is important that you are sure that your complaint has merit and that you are able to back up your claims with irrefutable evidence. To do so you should make sure that you have retained all original correspondence from the company and take copies for yourself. You should set out the facts consisting of your complaint by letter in a clear and coherent manner stipulating the nature of the complaint and your legal position. All supporting literature should be enclosed with the written complaint. If you do not receive a reply in an expeditious fashion you should consider setting up a meeting with the manager in which you can raise your complaint, however, if you are meeting in person it is important to keep the meeting convivial otherwise you are less likely to get a favourable outcome.
You will find below a selection of United Kingdom based professional trade bodies in the double glazing industry that have codes of practice for their members.
FENSA Limited (Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme)
44-48 Borough High Street
Tel: 0870 780 2028
Fax: 020 7407 8307
Glass and Glazing Federation
44-48 Borough High street
Tel: 0870 042 4255
Fax: 0870 042 4266
Double Glazing Firms
If you are interested in getting double glazing for your home but you are unsure of where to start first, we would recommend that you apply for some quotes and spend some time online looking through the available products and styles available from the leading manufacturers and installers. This will give you an idea of the cost of your project and will also allow you to browse through the full range of double glazing on offer completely at your leisure.
We currently recommend Anglian Home Improvements for double glazing installations.
Get a free Anglian double glazing brochure from Anglian or request a quote for double glazing on your home. This UK-wide company has been in operation for over 50 years and the standard of work is of a consistently high nature.