Re: Re: Irish say no to PVC windows
Some very entertaining opinions there folks.
As somebody â€˜in the window industryâ€™ Iâ€™m not quite sure where to start. It would be tempting to elaborate on the cutting edge strategies for replacement window companies in the UK â€“ that is positioning windows as home dÃ©cor and encouraging an 8-9 year lifespan â€“ but I think that would cause even further grinding of teeth.
Looking on the bright side though, after viewing the pictures that have been posted – and what a gallery of shame it is – I would be of the opinion that many of the replacement windows illustrated are likely to be illegal.
The 2002 revision of TGD L specifically brought replacement windows under the auspices of the Building Regulations. In the documents guidance for technical risks and precautions it is stated that â€œthe guidance in relation to fire safety in TGD B should be taken fully into account. In particular, it is important to ensure that windows, which are required as secondary means of escape in accordance with Section 1.5 of TGD B, comply with the dimensional and other requirements for such windows as set out in paragraph 1.5.6. of TGD B.â€
Turning to TGD B para. 1.5.6b – â€œThe bottom of the window opening should be not more than 1100mm and not less than 800mm (600 mm in the case of a rooflight) above the floor of the room in which it is situated.â€
The bottom of the top-hung casements in the photographs look to my eye to be more than 1100mm above floor level and would struggle to provide an acceptable egress opening even if they were at a usable level . The windows with the opening vent in the position of the lower sash would appear to struggle to have a net clear opening of 450mm in height which I would take as the absolute minimum height for an egress opening.
Given that each habitable room has to have an alternative means of escape and this is more often then not the window then you can appreciate the issue at stake.
Anything installed prior to 2002, or in commercial premises, would fall under general consumer protection legislation or Workplace (health and safety) Regulations 1992-Regulation 14. The following references here are to specific UK legislation but I believe we have something very similar;
Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 provides (amongst other things) that it is an offence to supply goods which fail to comply with the general safety requirement. In determining whether goods fail to comply with the general safety requirement, courts can have regard to various references, including British Standards, and can do so irrespective of whether those standards have been incorporated in safety regulations.
General Product Safety Regulations 1994 (GPSR). Where products are supplied for domestic use they must comply with the â€˜general Safety Requirementâ€™ of the above Regulations, which require consumer products to be reasonably safe. Again this may be achieved by conforming with BS6262: Part 4 with reference to the approved Document N of the Building Regulations 1991.
In the light of these two pieces of consumer legislation, for all practical purposes BS6262: Part 4, although nominally a code for recommended good practice, can be regarded as a legal requirement for any glass sold directly to the general public for use in critical locations.
Although the example refers to safety glass the principle applies equally to fire-safety. No glazier in his right mind would install non-safety glass to a critical location. Likewise nobody in their right mind should be installing a window at variance with the requirements set out in TGD B.
If such installations are brought to the attention of the local building control office then they would be extremely foolish to ignore the situation.
I saw mention of ACAâ€™s being a partial solution. If the Oâ€™Connell St ACA is anything to go by Iâ€™d have me doubts. I have been observing one prominent faÃ§ade having the original (post 1916) sash-windows replaced over the course of the last year and double-glazed windows installed. Iâ€™d be very surprised if anybody in Wood Quay new anything about it.
As to the suggestion of making the reinstatement of windows a planning condition I think the fenestration debacle of the â€˜renovatedâ€™ St Columbaâ€™s hospital in Sligo is an example of how seriously this is taken. To the best of my knowledge it was Freddie Oâ€™Dwyer of all people who provided the Duchas input on this project. (I would commend Westport and its activist planning dept as a notable example of how successful this strategy can be).
I would be in favour of zero VAT to encourage the take up of energy efficient windows in general â€“ there are ratings schemes available. Furthermore I would also recommend tax credits for suitable replacement windows in designated locations. The stick of enforcement should also come with a few carrots.
Is mise le meas,