What if we could agree on a joint specification for a Welsh timber window that meets all requirements for the social housing sector in Wales, in particular Secured by Design certification?  This was our starting point in December 2019. Today we’re in the middle of improving workshop set-ups across various joinery businesses in Wales ready for production and certification of our Welsh window in 2021.

Covid-19 increases demand for joinery

Due to the pandemic, progress on the project has been a little slower than expected. Joinery businesses have been overwhelmed with demand for windows and doors after the first lockdown. For many, this unprecedented spike in demand has created lead-in times of up to 14 weeks. With all hands on deck, we had to adjust our planning to move forward – slow but steady.

Meeting client specifications

What does the client want? What do they specify and what do they buy in the end? To find out which expectations in terms of technical performance and price our Welsh window should meet, over the summer we launched a series of surveys with social housing developers, contractors, and timber frame manufacturers.

Simple does it – with rising expectations

Our survey results indicated that most clients specify and procure a simple casement window for new builds as much as retrofit projects. While specifiers request standard u-values of 1.4-1.6W/m2k for current new builds. The industry expects future developments to require windows that achieve performance criteria equivalent to Passivhaus standard, i.e. <0.8W/m2k.

Based on the comparison of recently procured windows in social housing, including uPVC, aluminium and composite windows, we agreed on specifications for a standard window fit for the current market as well as a high-performance window in line with future demand.

Defining joint protocols and processes

Making the same window to the same specification is one thing, achieving identical protocols and processes to meet group assessment requirements is another. Sharing protocols and processes with each other to agree on a common way forward is proof of the strong commitment the participating Welsh joinery businesses have demonstrated to make the project happen in the midst of the current public health crisis and pressures on manufacturing.

Smart innovation for better output

With support from Welsh Government’s SMART Innovation programme we are now investigating the individual potential to improve manufacturing processes and standardise these across participating joinery businesses. Once this has been accomplished, we will finally move into prototype production and submit specimens for testing.

Group assessment and business solutions

In the meantime, we are still in discussion with Secured by Design to define procedures for group assessment and certification. We are also working to establish options for management of the scheme in the future. These will be discussed and agreed with participating joinery businesses and clients.

Pilot schemes wanted

While we’re still busy covering all bases for future successful window production across many different joinery businesses in Wales, we are already looking for social housing developments to implement the Welsh timber window in spring or early summer 2021. These can be either new build or retrofit projects.

For details contact Christiane Lellig – christiane.lellig@woodknowledgewales.co.uk.

Read the latest updates from the Home-Grown Homes project here – www.woodknowledge.wales/news/home-grown-homes-updates-december-2020.