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Ribble Valley Borough Council

Building Control Service

Replacement windows and doors

Replacement Windows

Since April 2002, all replacement glazing has come within the scope of the Building Reguations. That means anyone who installs replacement windows or doors has to comply with strict new thermal performance standards. (Just replacing glass is exempt).

One of the main reasons for the change is the need to reduce energy loss. The Building Regulations have controlled glazing in new buildings for many years but they represent only a very small percentage of our total building stock. It is also essential to improve the performance of the much larger numbers of existing buildings if we are to meet increasingly stringent national and global energy saving targets.

When the time comes to sell your property, your purchaser's surveyors will ask for evidence that any replacement glazing installed after April 2002 complies with the new Building Regulations. There are two ways to prove compliance:-

1. a certificate showing that the work has been done by an installer who is registered under the FENSA Scheme or

2. a certificate from the local authority saying that the installation has approval under the Building Regulations.

The FENSA Scheme

It is estimated that around 2 million installations of replacement glazing happen every year. That makes it essential to have a way to ensure that the work is done properly without an unreasonable increase in the administrative and financial burden on installers and property owners. The answer is the FENSA scheme, which allows installation companies that meet certain criteria to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations. It was set up by the Glass & Glazing Federation, in association with all key stakeholders, and meets with central Government approval. A sample of the work of every installer is inspected by FENSA appointed inspectors to ensure standards are maintained and installers who fail to perform can be suspended or even excluded from the scheme. FENSA also inform local authorities of all completed FENSA installations and issue certificates to householders confirming compliance.

Any installation done by a firm which is not registered to self-certify, including work done as a DIY project by a householder, needs full local authority approval under the Building Regulations. You should note that you, as the house owner, are ultimately responsible for ensuring the work complies with the Building Regulations.

What do the Building Regulations mean?

All replacement window installation in both domestic and commercial buildings come within the scope of the Building Regulations. Anyone who installs replacement windows, doors, roof lights and roof windows will have to comply with strict thermal performance standards.

How do I get approval?

There are two routes:

A. Apply to us for Building Regulation approval. This would involve your installer completing a straightforward application form. We make a charge for this service, and your application should be lodged with us at least 48 hours before the work is started.

Installation of replacement windows, doors and rooflights Building Notice Form

B. Alternatively, your installer may be a registered member of a self-certification scheme known as FENSA, in which case, seeking formal consent from the Local Authority will not apply. It is quite possible that smaller installers may not find the FENSA scheme attractive as the scale of their operation may make the membership fees of FENSA uneconomic. For further information about FENSA approved contractors, please visit the FENSA website .

Do I have to use PVCu windows?

No, you can install wood, metal or PVCu windows providing they are draught-proofed and give reasonable thermal insulation

Do I have to double glaze?

Yes, unless the building is an historic building and you must replace the windows to match the existing to comply with Planning Legislation, in which case there is some flexibility

Do I have to use special double-glazing?

Yes, you must use a low emissivity glass such as Pilkington K on the inner pane. The air gap between the panes of glass must be at least 16mm

I don't want to use low E glass, what can I do?

You may be able to use triple glazing, i.e. three panes of glass

What about conservatories?

The glazing in conservatories does not need to be low E glass if the conservatory is separated with a wall and a door from the rest of the house. The heating in the conservatory must have separate heating controls from the rest of the house.

When do I have to use safety glass?

Safety glass, toughened or laminated must be used in all doors. Also all windows within 800mm of the floor must be safety glass to cope with the weight of someone falling against it, further measures may be necessary to deal with the risk of anyone falling from low level window openings

How can I tell if it is safety glass?

The manufacturer will have put a small symbol on the glass

Do I have to have opening windows?

The room will need ventilation, so an opening window is needed. The opening window needs to be at least the size of the existing opening or not less than 1/20th of the floor area of the room. You also need to put in ventilation for any gas fires or boilers in the room. Check to see if the room already has airbricks installed, otherwise you will need to put in some fixed vents in the windows. It is also necessary to have "trickle ventilators" to avoid condensation

What other things do I need to consider?

You need to talk to the Building Control Officer about fire safety and means of escape in case of fire. You may need to have "means of escape windows" especially upstairs or from rooms that do not have direct access to a hallway or external door.

You need to consider the means of cleaning the windows - can a ladder be used outside by a window cleaner, or will "tilt and turn windows" be better. Can the customer reach the windows to open them?

Do the regulations apply to new doors?

The same regulations apply if more than half of the door and frame, including the fanlight, is glazed. Any glazing in the door or door side panel should be safety glass, unless the panes are less than 250mm wide.

Care must be taken with the threshold of the door. The upstand can be dangerous and this should be discussed with your customer. An upstand can be particularly difficult for people with wheelchairs and pushchairs. Many modern homes have a ramped or level entrance and in these cases a door threshold with an upstand should not be used.

For further information or to discuss any aspect of the Building Regulations, please contact Building Control on 01200 425111