Ill-fitting door seals, reviewing management fees and problems with double glazing
One of the seals on a new door fitted a few weeks ago is too small and does not seal the gap completely, thus failing to do its job as a draught excluder
QA few weeks ago, I purchased a new front door together with two side panels from a very reputable Irish distributor of Danish-made windows and doors. They also fitted the door. Even though the door was expensive, I chose it for its argon gas-filled double glazed units and low U value. It came with a 10-year warranty. The door has two rubber seals acting as draught excluders, an inner grey one on the lip of the door which seals against the frame when the door is closed and is effective, and a black seal protruding from all sides of the door which seals the gap between the door and the frame when the door is shut.
The problem is that the black seal is too small and does not seal the gap completely. I reported this immediately after the door was fitted and the service company came out to adjust the door but the gap still remained. I contacted the company again and they said the manufacturer confirmed that they did not have a bigger seal. Then they found a “bigger” seal and fitted it but the gap is still the same. After complaining again, I have just received a snotty email basically telling me where to go. What is my best course of action?
A Unfortunately, you have not stated the type of the door, ie whether it is timber-, uPVC- or aluminium-framed, as this could have a slight bearing on the situation. However, notwithstanding the above, doors of this nature, including the side panels, are normally made in factory-controlled conditions which theoretically allows for a high quality construction/assembly process. The fact the product has a 10 year warranty puts you in a very strong position.
The issue that you have pointed out relates to a gap between a black rubber seal and the frame. You need to establish the purpose of the rubber seal and its primary function. While one would expect that there should be no gap here, the rubber seal may have a different function, for example, a buffer to prevent the door clashing off the frame or to facilitate expansion/ contraction with, say, a timber-framed door due to weather variations, and accepting that the inner seal is primarily responsible for forming a draught and weather seal.
If the rubber seal is not providing the function that it is intended for, then I believe the supplier will be responsible for rectifying the situation which may actually involve having to replace the door.
The email you received is certainly not the response I would expect from a reputable company. I would suggest you contact the window supplier and ask them to clarify the purpose of the various seals and confirm that the seals have been correctly installed and that they are providing their intended function.
If they cannot do this, they should be asked to make amendments in order to be able to sign off on their product.
Val O’Brien sits on the building surveying professional group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie
Q I am a members of an owners’ management company and a new managing agent has recently been appointed. We want to know if there are areas where we can seek to reduce items of expenditure on the annual service charge as the budget hasn’t been reviewed in several years. Would you have any advice?
A As a director of the owners’ management company (OMC), the managing agent will receive your instruction to seek open-market tenders for all of the services the development requires as part of the management of the common areas.
I would recommend three tenders for each service are sought so as to ensure that you are satisfactorily informed. It would be prudent to view these tenders on each participating company’s letter-headed paper. In the event that the agent has not got the particulars of the service provider already on file, I would recommend that the insurance details and some client references are also included in the open-market tenders.
You should note that a cheaper service does not always bring better value to the members of the OMC. Here are some tips on reducing costs:
nReview and agree the service specification you need (for cleaning/grounds maintenance, etc) and annually invite a minimum of three contractors to submit quotes.
nCheck that the common area lighting systems are on the most efficient tariff – usually this is general-purpose night saver.
nConsider having an energy audit carried out – new more cost-effective technologies such as LED sensor lighting have payback periods of less than two years and can result in 50 per cent annual savings.
nConsider seasonal adjustment to the grounds maintenance – ie, less service in the winter when there is limited growth and more in the summer.
nPromote recycling as management of waste streams can significantly reduce costs (to as low as €100 per apartment).
nRegarding insurance, ensure buildings are revalued at regular intervals and adjust valuations and cover in line with current buildings costs.
Service charges are like your health, if you ignore it, it may lead to expensive complications later on.
The rate of asset dilapidation is dependent on the balance of adequate service charges and an adequate sinking fund or a lack thereof with one or both. The building investment fund programme will identify each specific element of the development and advise on when the asset will require replacement and the cost to do so over a time scale of, say, 20 years. It would be prudent to review the programme every three to five years to factor adjustments in inflation, replacement costs and industry advances in technologies and materials.
Once the board is satisfied with the budget containing the anticipated outlay for the year ahead, it may then be distributed to the voting members for consideration.
Section 18(2) of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 requires that members consider the proposed budget at a general meeting. Ultimately, the service charges will be decided democratically by the OMC voting members.
You should ensure that your agent is fully licensed by the Property Services Regulatory Authority, licensed property service provider (see psr.ie) and a member of one of the professional bodies.
Paul Huberman is a member of the property and facilities management professional group of the SCSI
QI have recently got double glazing fitted to all of our windows. In the window in our bedroom the teak window frame/glass is making a crackling sound constantly. This is the only window that is making this sound. The upgrade was done three months ago and this crackling sound started immediately. The supplier checked the window and advised that “the glass was perfectly fitted”.
A It is odd that one window has a problem when the upgrade appears to have been largely satisfactory. You do not state whether the existing glass was single- or double-glazed. In any event, a new glazed unit should allow about 2mm to 3mm at each end to fit into the frame.
There are a number of factors which could be contributing to the unusual crackling sound, for example: a noticeable difference in the detail compared to the others; the condition of the frame opening casement and hinges; whether the glass is internally or externally glazed and whether the frame rebate was altered; if the unit was oversized and subsequently push fitted with pressure on the double glazed unit; whether nail pins were used to secure the unit’s position; if there are signs of condensation within the sealed glazed unit; and if there is any air infiltration inside the room.
When the supplier checked the installation, what reason was given to determine that the glass was perfectly fitted? There could be other factors such as the surrounding cill, jamb and head external wall construction details. If there are imperfections in the aforementioned, then these may contribute to the unusual crackling sound.
However, my observations are purely speculative and there may well be other factors involved. If you continue to have a problem getting this window fixed by your supplier, I would recommend you contact a local chartered building surveyor to advise you further.
Jim Drew is a member of the western region branch of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland