The windows wheel of fortune: replacement v repair

There are times when we all wish we had a crystal ball; and there are times when the figures speak for themselves.

Personally, I am in no doubt that the cost of replacing outdated or faulty window stock is excessive when compared with the cost of refurbishment, but decision makers will need more than my conviction to go on.

Consider this cost analysis through the eyes of an asset manager or financial director: Traditionally, there has often been a knee-jerk reaction to failing stock and a rush to replace what’s not working.

This is understandable  in the context of some of the developments in technology we have seen at crucial points in the housing stock lifespan.

The introduction of PVCu was one such tipping point. As the plastic became available for use on window frames it made sense to replace old wooden frames with this more durable material.

Today, as these replacement PVCu frames begin to show their age we might be tempted to look to the next generation of replacements, but let’s consider the facts first.

Adaptable upgrades

While there will be snags and glitches throughout any window’s lifespan, the beauty of what we have now in the PVCu profile is its adaptability. It consists of just a small number of replaceable components and there is plenty of potential for upgrading, perhaps changing single to double glazing or coating with new sealants to improve energy efficiency or smarten appearance. Some replacement will enhance the compliance of the system and often repair solutions will be much more ‘off the shelf’ as specialist repairers will do the necessary research to offer the most viable component for any given site.

We no longer need to throw the baby out with the bathwater when we hit a problem. And crucially, it’s those replaceable smaller components and maintainable frames where most of your money goes when you outlay for stock so repairs will protect that investment.

Protecting your assets

The pie chart below, I’ve called it our Wheel of Fortune, shows a breakdown of costs for the components of a typical window. What I find most interesting is that as much as 64% of the overall cost of installation is ‘embedded’, ie pays for the fabric of the window itself and the components which make it up.

Labour, transport and access to the site for installation and other ‘Fixing’ costs for a typical installation make up a lower slice of the pie at 31.3 %

These figures deal with the example of a two storey building. Now imagine how that embedded percentage increases when we’re talking about a “high-rise” building. Conservatively, if an average “high-rise” property has six windows, there could be an additional £25 per window and the embedded cost would rise to around 70%.

This kind of analysis makes it easier to see where your money is going when you install windows and leads me to my point: By adopting a repair and maintain mantra as opposed to a replace the replaced mentality you are not only saving yourself the cost of replacing an entire unit, you are protecting your original investment, that is, your asset.

On the road in my job I have seen first-hand some of the wastage in our industry. I’ve seen landlords replace entire units because of a fault as simple as a broken handle or fittings warped by a change in temperature. Perhaps instead if they had consulted a crystal ball or my ‘Wheel of Fortune’, the option they chose might have been to repair not replace and their bottom line might be looking different right now?

If you”d like to get figures specifically for your stock or a project please feel free to contact me directly chanw@primaservice.co.uk or 07725 591128.

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