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Dear Editor- When is bespoke not bespoke, when it’s a window!

Once again our industry faces yet another occurance of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. When it comes to EU legislation (which is dramatiically changing the way we sell, manufacture and run our businesses) they produce conflicting interpritations.

Take the Consumer Rights Directive and the Construction Products Regulations, one contradicts the other.

Amoungst the good within the CRD which will protect us all as consumers, is a “withdrawal from contract clause”, better known as a “colling off period”. Consumers will be entitled as standard to have a 14 day period from the date goods are delivered when they can withdraw from the contract but they will be liable for any reasonable direct costs.

However (and here comes the only bit of common sense) as windows and doors are bespoke in size and specification to fit the consumers property, fenestration products are deemed in the CRD, to be bespoke. Consumer buying bespoke products do not have a right to a withdrawal period, providing you tell them they do not have a withdrawl period, due to the bespoke nature of the products they are ordering.

Common sense ends, because failiure to inform them that they don’t have such a right, results in the consumer being entitled to an absurb 379 day withdrawal period.If ever you need to get the right paperwork signed its when this CRD starts next year!

Imagine, buying new windows and because you were not told that you didn’t have a withdrawl period, you get a year to withdraw from the contract, legally!

Now here comes the conflict, having established that under the CRD, fenestration products are bespoke why then under CPR are fenestration products definitely not bespoke?

According to CPR whilst windows are of different sizes they are “system made” and therefore not bespoke. Our industry as a whole has spend thousands ploughing its way through BS EN 14351-1:2006 + A1:2010 and the other relevant standards to be able to CE mark products required by law from July 1st this year, for very little benefit. Just because a window has a CE mark it does not nececasarly mean that the window is fit for the intended site, only U-value, Toxic substances & safety device testing is mandatory, other important criterion such as weather performance may not be declared.

Had they been bespoke then the industry could have avoided the need to CE mark products.

Were you to buy a suit off the peg, then it would be system made. Were it to be ready made then altered, it would still be system made? However, if you decided the materials used, the trouser length, the waisteband width and cut of the pockets, it is tailor made ie bespoke for the purchaser. Why then, when a homeowner decides the material, the length and width, the colour of the frames, the design of glazing and handles is their choice not equally bespoke to them?

I believe within the CPR, there is good in there somewhere. Stand alone, electrical white goods which are mass produced need CE conformity, however the complexity of compliance to make individual, taylormade bespoke products like windows compatable is onerous.

Don’t get me wrong, Masterframe Windows Ltd have CE marked all their products. We have made the investment needed to do whats necessary for our clients, but suspect other businesses not to be in the same position.

 

 

R. Rabett

Technical Director

Masterframe Windows Ltd

17 June 2013

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