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Glazing Clippings and Musings May 2016 by Helen Duval

Renovations are an enormous undertaking and even bigger financial consideration, with that in mind it’s rather felt like being in ‘the front line’ this month, as I’ve looked at various areas of my own property that need upgrading.

Feeling as though I had a slight technical advantage, it has been really interesting to see how the glazing sector sells itself on a one-to-one basis with a keen and eager investor. I also wanted to learn from builders and professional installers about performance and product options. With the project being a large one, it was natural to want the best of both worlds, with the desire to add value at sensible prices all wrapped up in a great overall finish.

As a consumer it’s been a strange journey, with no less than 7 companies asked to quote on integrating all mod cons and replacing tired products that simply were creating big issues. Expensive issues, like regular hikes in fuel bills every six months or so. Eventually, 3 companies quoted with a fourth narrowly missing out due to a hectic schedule and decisions needing to be made.

Generally, prices were comparative but I’d really wanted to be sold the story of how energy efficient, safe and beautiful my home would become…but that didn’t happen. I wanted to read the leaflets and look to evaluate the differences from supplier to supplier …but that didn’t happen either. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of all was that security was never mentioned. It seemed as if there was almost an expectation for me to know what I wanted.

Granted, there are others out there who could well have made quite a sales pitch, but it was noticeable when asked what was available, I was told ‘you can have anything you want, ….colour or style’. As a sales pitch that doesn’t help – it’s like being given a blank canvas and told to paint anything you feel. Great if you are an artist, but otherwise, it tends to leave you floundering.

The really noticeable positive to the sales pitches were referrals to two websites, which led me to the marketing pages of different manufacturers and suppliers. Fundamentally, this told me one thing, … that installers do quite readily rely upon their suppliers to sell the products for them.

On the construction front there have been some great new projects confirmed by companies including Balfour Beatty, Bouygues and Graham as well as Galliford Try. Balfour has recently landed several large contracts including £82.5m on an RAF training base and £160m in relation to London Underground works. Likewise Bouyges and Graham have been appointed contractors on a major Oxford uni framework worth £130m, while Galliford and Try have been contracted to build student accommodation in Coventry and Newcastle valued at £120m. So things are looking buoyant …aren’t they?

‘Truly Horrible’

This year the UK’s trade deficit has been reported as being at its biggest since 2008, with analysts describing the figures as ‘truly horrible’. This is attributed to the UK economic growth having slowed to 0.4% in the first quarter of this year.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has commented that the UK trade gap became wider due to imports including mechanical machinery, cars and clothing. Although March saw a slight improvement, with the deficit narrowing by £0.5 billion to £3.8 billion, the ONS stated that the figures remain ‘unacceptably large.’

At the same time, Germany’s trade surplus hit an all-time high with the country’s exports growing to 1.9%, and economists have suggested that global growth will pick up. However, if the economy is really struggling, will the impact of next month’s EU referendum have a damaging impact if we leave?

The construction sector is already jittery regarding a potential economic slowdown regarding EU uncertainty and unrest seems to be escalating in relation to the global outlook.

It has been said that newbuilds alone cannot provide the affordable homes we need, with some stating that builders would go broke as they simply cannot build at the prices new households can afford.

Housebuilding however has continued to expand in the first quarter of this year despite infrastructure work having fallen, with some projects reportedly having been put on hold as nervous investors await the EU membership decision.

That said one of the UK’s largest housebuilders, Taylor Wimpey has recently upgraded its profit guidance, as it takes advantage of a very positive housing market. It was quoted as saying that ‘consumer demand and confidence remain high.
However, looking further forward there would be greater issues to deal with as house prices continue to surge upwards, while the incomes of those looking to purchase is not moving at anywhere near the same rate, which suggests that the gap between the two will not be closed anytime soon.

News and Moves

There’s been plenty of notable upbeat stories coming through for the glazing sector this month with The Consultancy having once again launched a number of new ‘online offerings’ via Solidor at the FIT show this year.

Deceuninck, has further expanded its team by appointing Darren Woodcock as new Operations Manager. Meanwhile Norfolk based Total Conservatory Roofs manufacturer recently introduced a Team Guardian Roadshow after Managing Director Peter Graves made the decision to manufacture Guardian Warm Roof.

One of the most exciting launches in the UK recently has been the introduction of SMARTGLASS® Dynamic, powered by SageGlass®, which made quite an entrance at the FIT Show Innovation Zone in Telford. According to the company electrochromic switchable glass technology incorporated into a domestic proposition in lantern roofs, has made a powerful impact across the sector.

Now this I think will be one to watch as consumers look to integrate more technology into their everyday life.

Written by Helen Duval 2016

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