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WHY STEEL SHOULD STILL APPEAL

Many former council tenants who bought their flats under the Right to Buy scheme, could, as leaseholders, be paying out unnecessary money because social landlords are replacing steel windows with PVC-U units as part of the government's Decent Homes initiative.

The claim is made by the Steel Window Association (SWA) which points our that in one recent instance, leaseholders in a high rise block in St John’s Wood, were reportedly billed £3,728 a flat to help fund the replacement of the original 1960s’ steel windows with ‘modern’ PVC-u double glazing.

However, the Steel Window Association contends that an easier and more cost effective option was available. “The existing windows, especially those installed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, where they are galvanised for rust protection and longevity, can be relatively cheaply overhauled and improved, for example by weatherstripping and modern ironmongery – not only bringing them up to their original condition but also improved upon,” says Darren Joyce, Director, Steel Window Service and Supplies, a member of the Steel Window Association.

“In the case of Kennet House, the original glazing could have been updated with comparable thermal efficiency to PVC-u alternatives. But there is also the possibility of improving aesthetics by stripping the windows back to the original galvanized steel coating and adding additional rust protection coatings and new decorative finishes.”

Other benefits that could have been derived in this and other instances would have been:

  • Significant savings. On average, leaseholders would have a bill, in the short term, that would be 60%-70% of the alternative. This would be achievable because the cost of renovations and upgrading would be less than replacement with new PVC-u units.
  • Long term savings as the naturally durable steel windows would arguably have more effective life left in them than the PVC-u double glazing would offer from new.
  • Less disruption to leaseholders caused by replacing the windows, along with the unavoidable making good of plasterwork, internal decorations etc.
  • There would be no compromising of the character of the property by fitting inappropriately large sectioned replacement PVC-u windows compared with the original slimline steel units.
  • There is an environmental plus as new window frames would not have to be manufactured.

“We are doing our best to get the message across that existing steel windows, properly overhauled and treated, offer an attractive alternative to PVC-u on so many grounds,” argued Darren Joyce. “And surely the clincher is that it will cost less, especially in these times of tightening belts.”