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Replacing Windows – What to Expect?

It’s not always clear how much work is involved and therefore how much your life will be affected by having all the windows replaced in your home. Since every project is different and has its own challenges, I’m afraid we can’t give you a solid answer through a blog article. However, we can give a general idea of what you should expect.

Of course, if you need more personal advice for your home, please do contact us.

Replacing Windows in General

Most importantly, an installer is going to aim to make your life as disruption-free as possible whilst working on your home. We ask our customers if they have a preferred order for us to move around their house – perhaps prioritising windows that need the most attention. The somewhat obvious rule we have is that we will never take a window out without knowing the replacement can be installed before the end of the day. As a result, only in very rare cases should it be worth the effort and expense of temporarily moving out of your home while the work is being performed.

The installers will need to be able to access the openings they’re working on from both inside and outside. The norm is to install from the outside, but fixing points and sealing is often only possible to do from inside.

In all cases, replacement windows and doors from us means replacing the entire unit: the outer frame, the opening sash or casement, and the glass. Factory items from us arrive fully glazed and ready to insert into a completely clear opening. External window cills are normally shown as separate items if required. And, since internal window cills are not technically part of the window, the existing boards are either left in place or replacements are shown as a completely separate item too.

Windows Prepared and ready to install

Dust Inside the Home

Since the depth of an old English window frame tends to be quite thin (around 60-70mm deep), and our Danish windows are around 120mm in depth, we often need to cut back internal plaster. Most plaster can be cut back using a oscillating multi-tool. In this case, with careful installers, dust sheets and a vacuum cleaner, the impact is not too great.

However, homes that have used hard plaster on the internal walls present a greater challenge. An angle grinder is often required to remove the plaster, so we would need to seal off the area to prevent the dust travelling too far.

Ladders, Scaffold Towers and Scaffolding

Depending on the size and weight of your windows on upper floors, your installers may wish to have a solid platform to both increase their safety and increase the efficiency of the installation. For lighter windows, a team of two installers are often happy working from ladders. The next step up is a scaffold tower – this will be moved around the house by the installers so this is normally more cost-effective than full scaffolding.

For windows above conservatories and larger projects, a proper scaffolding solution is often required. It is worth considering your local area, as some situations require permission from the council to erect scaffolding. For example – homes that are right next to a public footpath.

Ultimately, we ask for the customer’s understanding when we add an extra platform to a quote. There are many situations where it would certainly be possible to install using ladders alone, but we must consider the safety of our installers and clients. A secure and stable platform is often worth the cost for this alone.

Scaffold tower used for safer installation of large windows

Replacing Windows in a Rendered Home

A rendered property required careful consideration. Whilst, on newbuild homes, it is slowly becoming common practise to fully-render before installing the windows, this is a very new method. Almost all older windows were fixed in place, and then rendered in. This means that our installers will need to cut away enough render to be able to safely extract the old windows.

The colour of existing render (especially render which has weathered over time) is quite difficult to match. We therefore recommend that a professional renderer is used to re-render the property in order to create the neatest result.

It is not possible to render-in all types of windows. For example, some composite alu-timber windows require space on all sides for water to drain through. This type of window must be installed after the render. Please do ask if it’s unclear how the window you choose should be installed in relation to the render.

Rendered Windows install

Replacing Timber Sliding Sash Windows

Probably the most complicated window to replace is a sliding sash. In the UK, old sliders have boxes (which contain the sash weights) on the left and right of the window. These boxes are almost always built into the brickwork of the building. Because of this, it is highly recommended that a builder is the person who should safely extract the old units and prepare the opening for the new windows. As long as the opening is well-prepared, a sliding sash can be easily replaced with a casement instead. However, please do check with your local building control – this is not always allowed.

Slinding Sash Window Install

The most common question: How long will it take?

This is obviously incredibly difficult to answer because each house is a different size, utilises different building materials and the existing windows will be installed slightly differently.

The actual fixing and sealing of the new window is almost always the easiest part of the job. The main time and effort for an installer is safely removing an old unit and preparing the opening for the new one. In particularly bad cases, where our installer needs to correct a lot of work done by a previous fitter, it can be as few as 1 or 2 windows per day.

From the information we gather on our detailed survey, we can often provide an accurate estimate for the number of days we will be working on your home.

Ultimately, we would rather take longer to install your windows, knowing that the job has been done perfectly. Many companies provide fast installations without considering the long-term performance of their work.

If you’d like to help us out, removing any blinds, curtains and any furniture near the windows always helps our installers get straight into the job at hand. We bring our own dust sheets but, again, if you’d like to help by covering up any nearby furniture yourself, our fitting team will be very grateful!

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