Retrofitting my windows led to three deliveries of faulty glass. What can I do?

Upgrading windows is a worthwhile endeavour and can be an economical way of achieving a significant home improvement without having to go to the expense of replacing the windows in their entirety. Photograph: iStock

Upgrading windows is a worthwhile endeavour and can be an economical way of achieving a significant home improvement without having to go to the expense of replacing the windows in their entirety. Photograph: iStock

 

I engaged a major home-energy-upgrade company to retrofit Low-E double-glazed units to my wooden windows and doors. I had done research in advance and felt it was a good decision towards futureproofing my home. Unfortunately, the job has left me with major issues.

I assumed the retrofit company made the units as I saw no mention on their website to the contrary. It transpires that a large glass-processing company makes the units for the retrofit company. I think that should be mentioned on their website. While it wouldn’t have put me off, I at least would have been aware that there was a third party involved, as most of the issues I’m having are manufacturing ones.

At the first fitting, one of the window units was pockmarked with approximately 10 very obvious black specks and yet got through two quality controls (glass company and retro-fit company), which really unsettled me. It then transpired that both glass units in my kitchen doors were also faulty. I also had a concern that the sightlines of some of the window were now visible, with units varying within the frames and even very slight curves on a couple. I was told this can happen in the manufacturing process.

Another issue that bothered me in relation to quality control is the lack of uniformity with regard to logos. On some units, the logo is opposite each other on the two panes – as it should be in my opinion – but on others one logo is at the bottom and the second one is at the top on the opposite side.

After that first day, I emailed the company with numerous photos and cc’d the glass manufacturer. I got a phone call the following morning from a senior manager, who called later that day along with a colleague. Replacements were already on order and I was advised that the sightline issue on some windows wasn’t a concern as it didn’t affect the effectiveness of the glass unit. I since found out it may be an issue and would like an opinion from someone who is an expert in glass to know definitively if it is. I’m hoping you can recommend one as I can find no independent expert online.

After a second visit was postponed due to a unit getting broken in transit, the remaining window section and replacement glass for the doors was fitted a week later. However, I noticed while the guys were still there (and despite a sticker on each door saying “remake order”), one of the doors had worse issues than the unit it replaced and the second door unit had issues as well.

After the second fitting, the company made no contact with me until I contacted them a few days later (again sending more photos and again cc’ing the glass manufacturer as well). On advice from someone in the building trade, I was advised to allow them do a third set. They were ordered, and while it’s hard to believe, these also had issues on arrival, whereby the fitters agreed there was no point in fitting them.

It is two weeks tomorrow since the third lot of faulty glass was delivered to my home and again the company has not contacted me to apologise. I have health issues at the moment and this whole debacle has caused me a lot of stress. They were paid a third [of the total cost] deposit in advance and the rest to be paid on completion, which obviously hasn’t happened as I now have to pay some other company for the fourth lot of glass. I also need to have the sightline issues checked because if there are windows that need to be redone, the whole job may end up being a bigger issue entirely.

The waste of glass, everyone’s time plus the cost of manufacture, transportation, fitters etc is just disgraceful. Another thing customers are not told when ordering Low-E glass is that it has a greenish tinge which can cause white curtain fittings to appear slightly less white. I only found this out after fitting and again I feel it is something customers should be advised of as it is not mentioned on the website of any window company I checked when doing my research.

During the above, I rang the relevant Government department to be told that there is no section that deals with issues such as mine. Hence my query to you. I would appreciate if you could urgently recommend an independent glass expert who would call out to advise and recommend another glass company who will get it right the first time. I need a specialist so I can get the matter sorted and close the chapter on this issue.

Firstly, upgrading windows is a worthwhile endeavour and can be an economical way of achieving a significant home improvement without having to go to the expense of replacing the windows in their entirety. It is, however, important to ensure the window frames are suitable, and in particular that there is a sufficient depth of rebate, otherwise you will end up with issues over the sight lines, which I suspect is what is occurring here.

In this respect, there is a hermetic seal around the perimeter of the double glazing and this inevitably takes up a considerable depth and if the rebate is not deep enough, this line will be clearly visible above the frame with retrofit glazing. Unfortunately, from the glazing company’s perspective, their primary goal is to make the sale with the glass and they may not be overly concerned with the sight line and take the view that this is inevitable.

I note that you have also expressed concern about the fact that the glass is manufactured by a third party. Interestingly, this is not at all uncommon, as the cost of setting up and running a glass-manufacturing plant is extremely high and it is more likely that a retro-fit contractor would have their glass manufactured by a third party. In our opinion, this would be a similar principle with many products provided in the construction industry and I would not necessarily expect the contractor to highlight this in detail on a website. In fact, one would normally expect a higher standard of product from a larger/specialist manufacturer.

It is clearly disappointing that you experienced all of these problems, particularly bearing in mind that issues arose on each of the three occasions when the glass was being replaced.

For clarity, however, I am of the view that the various issues raised by you are largely issues of a manufacturing nature and thus the main party at fault here was the manufacturer. Presumably the retrofit company will need to review their ongoing relationship with their glazing manufacturer in order to avoid further damage to their reputation.

I also note your comment regarding the green colour and unfortunately this is a typical shortcoming with some of the more energy-efficient glass and is an inevitable price that has to be paid to achieve the improved thermal efficiency – it is useful to highlight this for the benefit of others so that they can be fully aware of this if considering this type of glass.

Val O’Brien is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

Addendum

Recently we received the following happy update from our correspondent: “The issues raised in my previous emails have since been resolved. I contacted the retro-fit company after the third set of faulty glass was delivered . . . On professional advice from a consultant, I was advised to look for my deposit back. I also requested a nominal figure of compensation for the hassle and days lost over the different fitting schedules.

“The company agreed by return and the deposit plus compensation sum was lodged to my bank account in full and final settlement. I have already arranged for another company to undertake the work required.”

We are delighted that our writer’s issues have been resolved to her satisfaction. However, we thought it very worthwhile to publish her original correspondence and Val O’Brien’s answer as they highlight a number of issues which we think will be of interest to readers undertaking a similar project.

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