For property renovation projects, homeowners look to save money, and the supply only vs supply and fit route for the windows and doors is one consideration. The supply only route is great for saving money but does not always offer full guarantees and product support, nor does it always provide longer-term peace of mind. On the other hand, the supply and fit route is a complete service, taking care of surveying and installation, product support and aftercare, and usually provides a clearer guarantee period, not to mention the benefits of working with a FENSA or CERTASS-approved installer. This article covers all the pros and cons of supply only vs supply and fit to help you make the best decision for your property project.
Supply only vs supply and fit when buying new windows and doors
You trust your builder to construct a new home and extension, confident that your roof and walls won’t cave in. So why can’t you trust your builder also to fit your windows and doors? The reality is many builders are perfectly capable of window and door installation, and just like window installers that are suitably qualified, they too can carry out a professional installation. With builders able to fit windows and doors, considering the supply only vs supply and fit route for the glazing is worth considering.
Our consistent advice with modern aluminium windows and doors is that there is no bad product on the market. Many bad experiences with new windows and doors are down to the quality of the manufactured product and more importantly, the quality of the installation. A correct installation is probably the most important factor to ensure the long-term performance of your new windows and doors.
The supply only service explained
As the name suggests, the supply only service is the window manufacturer or supplier, such as a trade counter or other provider, only providing the windows and doors. No installation is provided, and it is assumed you will make your own provisions for installation. The supply only providers of windows and doors all have different criteria for how they will handle your order and with the vast majority, you take all the risk.
Supply-only windows and doors usually involve you being responsible for giving them the information a professional window and door survey would ascertain. Some of these include:
- Giving your supplier the precise manufacturing sizes.
- Determining which exact frame types are required to suit your existing or new openings.
- Advising of any egress hinges to meet Building Regulations.
- Determining the sizes and types of cills, trims, frame add-ons and other ancillaries.
Some supply only companies will help you with instructions, survey guides, and other information to help you ensure they provide the windows and doors you need. However, you must remember that the vast majority of supply-only window and door providers are set up to receive clean and prepared orders ready to manufacture. Not all are able or willing to hand-hold you.
Depending on your chosen supplier, delivery charges may be extra, and the quality of the installation instructions varies from provider to provider. Some providers expect you/your builder to provide the fixing screws, straps, silicones and other accessories that may be needed to fit the windows and doors. It is also unlikely the supply only route will give you access to other aluminium products such as corner trims or covers, frequently required colour matched to the windows and doors.
The obvious benefit to the supply only service is a reduced cost compared to the full supply and installation route. With many professional installation companies quoting 8-16 weeks installation lead times, the supply-only route certainly helps if your project is on a tight schedule.
Whilst some excellent businesses are set up to provide a smooth and reliable supply only service, and we can certainly put you in touch with these, these companies are largely set up to manufacture and supply clean orders and are not set up to provide the white glove service of professional installers.
By far, the biggest risk in choosing supply only vs supply and fit is that you bear the most responsibility. When an installation does not go as planned, the supply company will often blame the installer, and the installer will blame the supplier.
Supply only pros
You save money
Faster Lead times
Not recommended for complex installations
Beneficial with a reputable company
Supply only cons
Greater risk should things go wrong
A reduced product guarantee
Fewer options such as designs and colours
Less clarity on product brand or system
Many products need trained glaziers and fitters
You are responsible for certifying the installation
Limited access to showrooms or one-to-one advice
The supply and fix service explained.
The supply and fix route provides significantly more benefits, with the most trouble-free experience and complete service, leaving you with far less to organise. Professional window companies offer you access to their showrooms, face-to-face advice, more time, and access to more personalisation options such as more colour choices, more handle styles, glass upgrades and other accessories, which the supply-only route tends to restrict.
The crucial survey is taken care of by a professional surveyor, more familiar than a builder with the specific window brand, its various configurations options and how it needs to be designed for your particular opening. Crucially, the supply and install route remains the best for getting a flush or low threshold because this type of installation needs collaboration between the door provider and the builder. All aspects of the installation are taken care of, and you have the peace of mind your installer is experienced and has fitted the specific window or door brand many times before.
Even if your installer does not manufacture the products and uses a trade supplier and manufacturer, they have a better experience and far longer trading relationship with that supplier should things go wrong than you will, buying once via the supply only route. Study the terms and conditions of those companies offering a supply only service, and you will invariably see a clause stating they are not responsible in any way for the installation.
Supply only vs supply and fit product guarantees
We are routinely asked about the supply only route for windows and doors by homeowners wishing to save money. However, many homeowners are rarely aware of the vastly reduced product guarantees they get with supply only vs supply and fit. The product guarantees do, of course, vary from company to company and depend on the products themselves, but generally speaking, the following applies when comparing supply-only guarantees to the full installation service.
Supply only guarantees
The whole product guarantee is vague
Glass & components, typically 2-5 years
Builders rarely offer any installation guarantee
Little support long term
Reduced access to parts and spares
Supply and Fit Guarantees
Typically ten years on the whole product with fewer exclusions
Glass & components fully covered unless specifically excluded
Your product installation is covered
Some 20 year guarantees when fitted by approved installers
Better support when products are out of warranty
If your project is for a home you are likely to sell, then the product guarantees may matter less, as many installers stipulate that their warranties are not transferrable to the new property owner. However, if you are investing in a long-term home, the supply and fit route provides the best peace of mind.
The guarantee you get very much depends on the supplier, and when comparing supply only vs supply and fit, do your research and establish from your chosen supplier what guarantee they offer and how that relates to their products being fitted by others. The terms and conditions can be complex to get your head around, so do ask questions and get information in writing.
In the unlikely event of significant issues with the product and its installation, the supply only route can be more restricted in getting problems solved. The supply and installation route is better, with you more likely to get responses from all parties in the supply chain and involve them as required to help solve your problem. This is because the supply chain is more transparent, and the installer is known to the design or manufacturing company, trained, approved and supported.
Where supply only is not recommended
Aluminium doors and windows are highly-engineered products. There are many reasons why the best brands of doors and windows offering outstanding products and excellent customer service choose a business model based on approved, trained and supported installers and never provide their products supply only.
When comparing supply only vs supply and fit, glazed screens, complex designs, specific functionality or for ultra-slim bonded sliding doors such as Cortizo, we advise avoiding the supply only route. Certain products demand an installation by qualified fitters familiar with the product and aware of exactly what must be done to ensure a long-term reliable product. Some products are more forgiving if the opening is not quite square or they are not 100% level. Other products demand more precision and must be fitted exactly as designed and intended by experts. If your extension has bifolding or sliding doors with a gable or shaped head above, measuring for this often requires a template, and some supply only companies won’t carry out this work, and some may not even provide glass. A professional surveyor can handle shapes, curves, bay windows and other non-standard shapes easier and better than dealing with a supply-only company. The more complex your design, the more features and functions you want from your glazing, the more likely you will achieve it via the supply and fix route.
The other consideration is site safety and the correct handling of your new windows and doors. With large sliding doors, whether moving them to site or handling their glass, professional installers rely on the right equipment and trained staff. This equipment ensures less stress on the product, reduces damage to the paint finish and gives you the confidence of a product fitted by professionals that know what they are doing.
Your builder may know how to fit windows and doors, but that knowledge does not extend to every product. You risk all manner of problems choosing the supply only route for windows and doors designed with the full service in mind. Therefore, the experience you get supply only vs supply and fit does depend on the product you intend to buy.
Finding window and door fitters
So you’ve decided to buy using the supply only route and now need to find a fitter. There are companies and individuals offering installation services and you can get in touch with us for details of these. However, these can be limited and specific in the products they choose to install.
You are unlikely to find ‘general’ window fitters easily because, as we’ve explained, fitters like using products from suppliers they know and trust. Some popular brands like Smart Systems are widely available from numerous suppliers, but they are not provided in exactly the same way. Fitters are aware of this and do not want the hassle of having to deal with products provided differently from what they are used to.
For the same reason, your local window companies are also unwilling to provide an installation-only service for products they do not supply. Another reason why the supply and installation route provides an all-round smoother and easier experience.
You can consider doing an online search for double glazing repair and maintenance companies as some of these do offer an installation service, or look to find smaller installers, offering this service.
Therefore, when considering supply only vs supply and fit, think about how easy it will actually be to find the installer you are looking for in your area. An installation company will unlikely want to travel a larger distance just to fit one patio door. Similarly, an installer may stipulate to you how they expect to receive the products in order to fit them.
Registering your installation
You will need to ask your chosen installer whether they are FENSA or CERTASS certified. Registered installers can carry out the self-certification required for building regulations and give the paperwork required should you need to sell your home. If you are getting your builder to fit the windows or carrying out a DIY installation you will need to request an application for approval under Building Regulations from your local council. This can take from a few weeks to a few months.
Window and door installers are not required by law to be registered with FENSA or CERTASS, but you cannot install windows and doors without building regulation approval. If you plan on selling or remortgaging, having the required paperwork is much easier and speeds up the process.
You may that for supply only vs supply and fit that the installation route via a FENSA or CERTASS-approved installer is simpler and you cannot self-certify your own work.
Supply only vs supply and fit – summary and conclusion
Whilst the supply only route offers cost savings, there are several compromises with this service, the most important being registering your installation and understanding the product guarantee both from the supplier, your builder or your chosen installer. That said, the experience you get very much depends on the company you choose and plenty offer a reliable service, have excellent reviews and have the processes in place to make buying windows and doors supply only easier.
Do bear in mind that some companies offering buy-direct windows and doors rebrand their products, and you may find it hard to establish what these are. In most cases, these rebranded doors and windows are the same systems available from other suppliers. A reputable company should have no issue whatsoever telling you what system they manufacture and supply. If you’d like further information about a supplier you’ve come across and would like to know what system they offer, you can contact us, and we can tell you. If you wish, we can also suggest comparable products, so you get more choices.
The supply and installation route will always cost more, but you get a complete service, better product choices and aftercare, and we recommend this as the better option. Supply and installation are crucial for large or bonded patio doors, glazed screens, more complex systems and where you have specific design requirements such as a low bifolding or sliding door track. You also have access to a better overall buying experience being able to view products, take your time, ask questions and explore products in real-world environments, compared to online.
You can contact us for companies offering supply only or supply and fit windows and doors and we can help you with choosing the best products for your project from the right suppliers.