When choosing how and where to buy aluminium windows, there are now more ways to get the windows and doors you need for your property project. The supply and installation retail route still provides an easier process, better guarantees and less for you to organise. However, there are now other ways to buy aluminium windows, save money, complete your property renovation faster or have more control for those that love to project manage.
Do you want new or are you replacing old?
When you need windows to replace existing windows, the choice of how and where to buy these can differ from needing glazing for a new extension or an entirely new home.
The replacement windows route where no builder is involved is simpler. Often the project involves a like-for-like replacement of the existing windows – a simple window installation in most cases. Slightly more ambitious could be deciding to change the existing window styles for a new colour or perhaps change or update the look of your home by changing the existing window design and colour to something different.
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The requirement for windows for a new extension or new home is more challenging. Aside from creating the window openings, there are other considerations.
- Ensuring your choices work with your home and lifestyle longer term.
- Arriving at the right window design or specification.
- Compliance with Building Regulations for energy efficiency, ventilation, and safety.
- Working with an architect, builder or carrying out research.
- Timing your windows purchase and installation with the build and other trades.
Where to buy when replacing old windows
Our advice for a simple out-in replacement of your existing windows or doors is the supply and install route offered by your local home improvement company.
The primary reason is to get a professional survey and establish the correct manufacturing sizes of the new windows. As well as this, a trained surveyor spots details such as the condition of any existing timber or stone frames. A survey establishes the frame depth needed on the new windows and what size of trims you need to create a finished look inside the room.
Using the supplier and installer also addresses installation issues. Perhaps the new windows are above a conservatory or glazed roof. The installer can’t stand on the roof with most windows fitted from the outside. Will you need scaffolding or other access for hard to reach windows? What size of window cill or internal window board is best? You’ll also need to consider first-floor windows as a means of escape or an easy cleaning facility. What about child restrictors? All of these considerations and many more are familiar to your window installer.
Where to buy aluminium windows for a new home or extension
When you need windows and doors for your new extension, renovation or building project, you’ve actually got more choices. The choice of the supply and installation route remains the best for simplicity.
The benefits of the retail supply and installation service
Work with a good installation business, and you get many benefits:
- Access to product expertise, saving you time researching
- A professional survey working out the required sizes for your glazing
- The longer guarantee, up to 20 years with some products
- After-care service with optional routine maintenance of your new windows and doors
Moreover, the retail route works best when you buy windows for a new extension and when also buying any patio doors with a low threshold, Your door provider and your builder or architect need to work collaboratively to give you the desired flush look. Similarly, with windows, you may need to work out their positioning, opening modules, how any shaped windows will work, such an apex window above a bifolding door.
Getting your builder to buy and fit your new windows
Many builders can install doors and windows. After all, you entrust them with building you a safe structure, so why not get them to fit your windows and doors? There are pros to getting your builder to fit your windows.
- In most cases, you’ll save money vs the retail route with access to trade prices
- You already know your builder and trust them vs an unknown window firm
- Delivery dates on the windows or doors are usually faster,
- Most builders with experience fitting windows do a good job
However there are also cons
- If your builder has a supplier, you may be limited in the choice
- You won’t get the ten year guarantee or 20 year product guarantees of the retail route
- Your builder may not have the expertise in establishing manufacturing sizes leading to mistakes
- Construction firms generally don’t take as good care of window frames, leading to damage
You buy the windows, and your builder fits
There are now ways for homeowners to buy windows and doors direct and their builder installs. This provides all the advantages of the builder supplying and fitting. Even better, you get access to exactly the style of glazing you need such as windows and doors in the steel-look from specialist suppliers.
You may prefer this route where your builder doesn’t have access to products you’ve seen but still have the trust in your construction firm to fit your new windows and doors.
- You’ll need to find a windows and doors supplier offering such a service
- You won’t get a longer product warranty via the trade route
- Most suppliers expect you to provide full order details, sizes and specifications
- Resolving product delays or mistakes is harder than a supplier and installer.
We’ve created a full explanation of potential pitfalls with buying direct and getting someone else to fit.
The hardest element of this route is probably establishing manufacturing sizes. Again, the installation and retail route via a glazing firm undoubtedly solves this problem.
As good as your builder is, large patio door openings can be irregular across the width and height. Does your builder have the expertise to accommodate any irregularity in the opening when establishing the manufacturing sizes?
Whilst all of this sounds daunting, the reality is good direct suppliers of doors and windows have worked hard to make it easy. Some will provide a survey service at extra cost. Many provide all sorts of information about measuring and fitting doors and windows for builders. A few even offer an ‘assisted-fit’ service for more complicated glazing.
You buy your windows direct from the manufacturer
You or your builder can now buy fully fabricated windows and doors direct from the manufacturer. The advantage of this is that many manufacturers now have excellent showrooms to view and talk about products.
They frequently work with builders, so there’s expertise there too. Some even offer an assisted fit service or a survey where you want help with the actual sizes.
Whilst this route still places responsibility on you, if you’re confident managing this process to buy windows, this too can save money.
Buying aluminium windows online
There are the usual precautions to buying anything online, but with doors and windows, it can get more complicated.
First of all, it’s worth establishing whether the online supplier is a manufacturer of these or buying in via the trade route and then selling online. Then it’s ensuring the doors and windows advertised are those you’ll get. For instance, are the images representative of the product? Will you get the look you expect?
The biggest risk to buying online is getting the right product. Windows and door aesthetics are frequently governed by sizes. You may see a slimline aluminium window online, but what you get is thicker in profile because it’s larger than the sizes possible with slimline profiles. Unless your online supplier provides absolute clarity on the products you’ll get, this is by far the riskiest route, even if the cheapest.
Overall online places a larger responsibility on you. Of course, all the considerations with the builder or trade route above still apply to buying online.
Window Guarantees when you buy aluminium windows
When you buy aluminium windows the best guarantee is the one you get from the retail, supply and installation route.
Many window installers provide long product and fitting guarantees actually exceeding what they get from their suppliers. An excellent example is glass. It’s impossible to find a glass unit bought from a glass manufacturer with a guarantee longer than five years. Some installers pass on this same time period to you. Others choose to take a risk by offering a ten year guarantee to you.
Similarly, there are products available from specialist manufacturers who honour their products for up to 25 years only when bought through an approved and trained dealer. You miss out on this extended, and for many, peace of mind guarantee when buying anywhere other than the retail route.
So when you decide how and where to buy aluminium windows, the guarantee you get won’t be the same.
Whether you buy windows and your builder installs, or leave the windows sourcing to your builder. Check the warranty you’ll get both with the product and the installation.
Ongoing maintenance after you buy windows
No window or door is a fit-and-forget product. The low maintenance of modern aluminium and PVCu materials is widely marketed, giving you the impression your new windows, once installed, never need anything but a routine clean. This is not true.
Over time, all windows and doors, especially large sliding or folding doors, will require routine maintenance and adjustment. Many retail suppliers and installers offer such a service either free, as a service package, or one-off cost.
When you choose where to buy aluminium windows, do consider potential maintenance and servicing in the future.
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