Techtalk | Straff Cooke, Technical Director, Mila
A friend of mine moved into a new build house a couple of weeks ago and, being the hardware nut that I am, I couldn’t help but take a close look at what had been fitted to the windows and doors. After all, one of the big attractions of the new house was that it would be safe and secure for his family.
Imagine my surprise then when I realised that not one of the windows adhered to ADQ – despite the fact that it has been three whole years since ADQ became mandatory on new build properties. The only possible excuse for non-compliance is that work started on the site before the latest cut-off date of 1 October 2016. When my friend contacted the site manager to ask about that though, he said he had no knowledge of ADQ anyway and simply passed him onto the window company.
What’s truly alarming in this scenario is that the window company themselves claimed to have no knowledge of ADQ either so sent a surveyor out to inspect the windows. At the time of writing, he still hadn’t responded, but it’s hard to see how any competent surveyor could look at standard mushroom espags and standard friction hinges fitted with no hinge protectors and not see the problem.
As I’ve explained in Tech Talk before, ADQ requires windows and doors fitted in vulnerable positions to have been tested to the PAS24: 2012 security test before they can be fitted in new build properties. This test typically costs around £1000 at a test house like Mila, which is manageable for larger fabricators but tough for the smaller guys, and I get that. However, it is possible for data from tests carried out by profile and hardware companies to be cascaded down to their customers, as long as the window being fitted matches the specification of the one that was tested – right down to the screws.
Regular readers of this column will know that I don’t necessarily agree with cascading and certainly I’d like to see a scheme introduced which requires the profile or hardware companies to audit whoever they give the data to, but it does at least mean that cost shouldn’t really be an excuse for non-compliance.
It depends on the scale of the project as well of course – if the same style of window or door is being installed across a whole new housing estate, then a £1000 test is much less significant than if it is on a small development or if it is just one of a whole range of different styles being fitted.
If the window company really is unaware of ADQ, then I suspect the real reason for fitting standard hardware on this job was simply price. PAS24: 2012 compliant hardware typically adds around £5-£7 to the cost of a window opening and anything from £25 to £30 to the cost of a door. This seems like a big saving of course until you consider what the real cost is likely to be of having to replace all the windows and doors with the correct specification.
Local building control departments across England and Wales have the power to demand that windows and doors are refitted to the correct standard if they are found not to comply and, in cases which are judged to be serious or persistent, they can take legal action and fine the company responsible. I’m not aware of this happening as yet, but if it did then the reputational damage would undoubtedly be even more expensive.
Three years into the ADQ regime, I don’t think there is any excuse anymore for new build suppliers not to have the correct documentation in place. We have already moved on to PAS24:2016 after all and SBD has already announced that as of 1st October, it is no longer accepting PAS24:2012 documentation. Companies operating in the new build sector really do need to take action now – Mila can of course help with supplying all the compliant hardware you need, carrying out the necessary testing and providing expert advice to make sense of the rules.