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Rob McGlennon, divisional sales director at Epwin Window Systems Divison discusses how innovation is broadening the scope for breathing new life into historic buildings.

Areas of conservation and heritage have always been a focal point for discussion and debate, and just as the dust has settled on the comments made by the chief executive of the English Heritage in respect of PVC-U materials being used in these areas it seems George Osborne has reignited the fire, only this time the discussions concern everyone within the industry, not just PVC-U manufacturers.

“Te proposition that VAT should be added on approved alterations to listed buildings will no doubt have a negative effect on the construction industry,” says Rob. “With this also having an effect on the glass and glazing industry, it’s little wonder as to why the GGF is fiercely opposing the move.

“Tat said, it is very easy to get wrapped up in conversation about how business can be affected by perpetually changing government legislation, however there is much to be said about looking at the great things that are happening in our industry and how innovation is breathing new life into historic buildings.”

So far this year Spectus Window Systems has seen its products installed in a variety of historic buildings in areas of sensitive conservation, demonstrating how building repairs can boost the performance of these buildings as well as improving the aesthetics – something the government need to think about more clearly before potentially quashing such repairs in the future, says Rob.

“When we look at the great work being undertaken in these areas, it’s testament to the innovation of the industry as a whole.


One such example is a recent project that was undertaken by Spectus alongside Warwick Developments and Worthing Windows. Church Cottage, in the historic village of Tarring, West Sussex, required its timber framed windows to be replaced for the first time after over 300 years in situ.

“Te owners of the grade II listed 18th century building thought they would have a

fight on their hands to be granted planning permission to replace them with more insulating and cost-effective PVC-U profiles. Te reality, as it turned out, was very different.” says Rob.

As the PVC-U Vertical Sliders fitted

perfectly with the design of the cottage, planning permission was granted relatively quickly, and work began refurbishing the property.

Using Spectus’ Vertical Slider profile,

Warwick Developments Specialist Window Division in Sheffield fabricated six white vertical sliding sash windows with ovolo finishing and brass hardware to match the cottage’s interior, which were then installed by Worthing Windows.

“Spectus’ Vertical Slider brings together

advanced technology and traditional design, making it perfect for period properties like Church Cottage.” says Rob.

“Te profile system provides authentic- looking sash windows that bring to period properties high performing modern materials, energy saving technology and thermal efficiency. It looks fantastic and can really maintain the traditional aesthetics of the building.

“PVC-U competes with the timber historically favored for period buildings on energy ratings and thermal performance. In fact, it can achieve a Window Energy Rating of band ‘A’ with an appropriate insulation glass unit. PVC-U also competes on an aesthetic level as there’s a choice of designs and shapes to choose from, as well as an extensive range of foils.”


Innovation doesn’t begin and end with the advanced technology of Spectus’ profile systems; new advancements in the range of

68 « Clearview NMS « September 2012 «

foils play an integral role in breathing new life in sensitive areas of conservation.

“Spectus recently conducted a large survey

of Specifiers, Architects and those working throughout the construction sector and found that aesthetics are playing an ever increasing role in determining what type of material is used for conservation projects.” Rob says.

Spectus has seen its PVC-U window profiles being selected as the preferred window building material in conservation areas not only because of superior performance characteristics but also because PVC-U is able to compete with other materials in terms of aesthetics thanks to advances in foil technology.

Rob says “In recent years, these technological advances have led to a huge increase in the variety of coloured foils available, such as wood-effect for example. Tese foils can help to meet building regulations and planning applications, as they enable buildings to integrate seamlessly with their surroundings.


If the government persists with its plans to add VAT to approved building repairs on historic buildings, there may be fewer opportunities to bring such buildings back to life using the best technology that fenestration has to offer, such as the Vertical Slider profile used on Church Cottage.

Eventually, customers will be priced out of repairing these beautiful buildings and this will have a knock on effect with manufacturers, fabricators and installers. It is about time that the government looked at the good things that are happening when it comes to historic buildings, and considers how best to encourage these projects, instead of discouraging them.

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