Why FENSA is still the best scheme for consumers searching for reliable double glazing companies

UK consumers researching considering replacement double glazing or triple glazing might well be baffled by the fact that there are three competing organisations all claiming to offer them the best double glazing advice on which company or companies they should deal with.

I read an article on the Telegraph.co.uk website entitled “Property Advice” which looked at the fact that double glazing customers now have three companies to distinguish between, which wanting advice on double glazing and which firms are reputable etc.

The article stated that “window manufacturers and installers are not obliged to belong to any kind of scheme at all. Membership of FENSA (Fenestration Self-Assessment) simply means they can certify their own products as complying with the thermal-insulation requirements of the Building Regulations – otherwise the windows are supposed to be inspected by a local authority Building Control Officer (not that these have the equipment needed to test the thermal qualities of the glass).

DGCOS stands for the Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme. Despite its name, it has no official status or connection with government – it is a private company.To further complicate matters, there is another scheme being launched “The Glazing Ombudsman (TGO)” which also has no official or government standing. The double-glazing and replacement-window industry remains totally unregulated.”

“The important point for readers to grasp is that membership of all or any of these bodies is voluntary. It might enable a firm to put extra letters or logos on its advertising, but does not infer any government or local authority control.”

The Double Glazing and Conservatory Obudsmen Scheme is, according to the DGCOS website a private limited company, so one assumes like any other business it needs to make a profit or at least break even to survive? Having visited their website the only way you can find out the names of their members in you area is to ring them or give all your personal details online, as there is no list of who their members are on their website. Interestingly Everest, Anglian or Safestyle are not members of the DGCOS.

FENSA was set up in 2002 following Government encouragement, by the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) and other double glazing industry bodies in response to the need for double glazing companies to adhere to the Building Regulations in England and Wales. Anglian and Everest FENSA members, and if you put any postcode into their search facility on their website, it immediately gives visitors a list of all the local and national FENSA members in that visitor’s region.

According to FENSA’s website “When replacing windows and doors, homeowners must comply with current thermal performance standards and ensure they get a certificate from FENSA or Local Authority Building Control. FENSA enables companies that install replacement windows and doors to self-certify compliance under these Building Regulations without the need for a separate assessment from Building Control.

An independent report commissioned by the Government found FENSA to be the most successful of all competent person schemes to date in the UK, across all industries. FENSA is the leading brand trusted by consumers, all Local Authorities, industry and Government. FENSA is the industry standard for replacement window and door installers self-certifying compliance with the building regulations.”

The third scheme for consumers are TGO (The Glazing Ombudsmen) who are a new independent not for profit organisation, set up to help resolve disputes between consumers and businesses registered with them they have vetted and approved. The Glazing Ombudsmen aims to provide double glazing customers a means of redress in a fair and “hassle-free” way if things go wrong between them and their double glazing supplier. The TGO, like FENSA and DGCOS intend to provide double glazing customers with confidence and peace of mind in the products and services of their members. Better still you can visit the Glass and Glazing Federation’s website who have pages dedicated to helping consumers.

Hazlemere Windows were one of the first double glazing manufacturers, suppliers and installers to join FENSA back in 2002 when it first came into being, and have been members ever since (Membership No. 10589). Hazlemere Window Company Ltd are also members of the Glazing Ombudsmen scheme, which is initially being sponsored by both the GGF (Glass and Glazing Federation) and FENSA in order to get it off the ground. As well as being well established FENSA members Hazlemere Windows are also long standing members of the EST (Energy Saving Trust), Investors in People and holders of ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems. In addition, Hazlemere Commercial Windows and Doors are LHC A5 approved suppliers, and are both EXOR and CHAS accredited contractors.

Whilst I concur with the Telegraph article that neither TGO, FENSA or DGCOS are government bodies, nor under local authority control, it is important to remember that FENSA was set up originally so it remained independent of government and local authorities because local planning department’s simply were not coping with the workload. Nowadays the authorities certainly don’t have the manpower or resources to be able to take any of this workload on.

At present FENSA have over 9,000 members, whilst the DGCOS has less than 600 members, so it does not take a brain surgeon to work out which of these two scheme is currently the best for British consumers considering replacement double glazing or triple glazing.

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