Part Twenty – The Windows And Doors Are In (Almost)

This twentieth entry was published originally by JSHarris on the 25th October 2013 and received 2,659 views on the closed forum

Another big day today, the windows and doors arrived.

After much deliberation, looking at door and window specs and comparing the performance of different windows and doors, we’d settled on buying some (expensive) triple glazed units from Internorm. The quality looked impressive, the windows were Passivhaus certified and we liked the combination of a clear timber finish internally with a maintenance free aluminium clad exterior. The crunch was the price, though, over £17K for the spec we wanted. We also looked at Nordan, and to be fair their performance was pretty much the same as the Internorm windows, and the price was a fair bit better (just under £15k), but the quality and finish just didn’t seem to be quite as good.

When we went over to Ireland to see MBC it was suggested we go and look at some windows from Munster Joinery, a big Irish company that make passive house windows to a high spec. Looking around their trade showroom just outside Dublin we were both very, very impressed with the quality of their EcoClad windows. In terms of design and finish they were easily the equal to the Internorm windows we’d pretty much already decided to use, and with performance figures that were, if anything, slightly better. There and then I asked them to give us a quote for their top of the range Ecoclad windows and doors, with the plain lacquered timber internal finish and a dark grey aluminium exterior. A few weeks later I got the quote, via Seamus, and was staggered to find that the all the doors and windows, including fitting, came to less than £9k!

This is for triple glazed, argon filled, windows, with low E glass, in thermally broken laminated timber frames with powder coated aluminium exterior and stainless steel hinges, latches etc. It also includes this bit of substantial glazing in the south facing entrance gable:

The exterior still has pale grey protective tape on in places, the true colour is dark grey, which which should go well with the larch cladding we’re putting on the outside. One thing about these windows is that they are 120mm thick, and I think that the back door may even be thicker than that (it looks like it would be suited to be a bulkhead door on a submarine, it’s that thick!). This is to give the doors and windows their excellent thermal performance. The windows have a Uw (the whole window U value, including frame) of around 0.7 W/m².K (the building regs only require that they be less than 2.0 W/m².K, so they are around three times better insulated than required by the regs).

Here are a few more photos (a bit messy in places, that show what the windows and doors look like. The scaffolding is in the way, so it’s hard to take a decent photo of the outside, but these should give an idea as to what these budget passive house windows look like.

This is the inside of the back door.

The inside of one of the windows (as you can see, the weather’s not been great!)

The outside and cill of one of the windows, still covered in the light grey protective tape.

The cladding will protrude around 65mm from the present wall face, leaving the alloy cills protruding around 25 to 30mm outside the cladding.

The only real hitch we had was one of the windows turning up the wrong size. Their fault, not ours, even the fitters drawing showed that the window should be 1600mm wide when it had been made 2000mm wide. This means another ten days or so until we can get a replacement and make the house truly weather tight.

It was novel leaving the site this afternoon and remembering to lock the front door as I went out, though!

I’ve edited this entry to add the photos that Dave requested showing the way the aluminium cladding detail with the Munster Joinery windows.

This is the way the frame looks, from the inside, with the window partially open. The aluminium cladding covers all the weather exposed surfaces, as far as I can see. The main weather seal is against the aluminium outer skin of the frame.

his shot was of the same window taken from outside and again shows that the aluminium cladding is right around the timber, with all the fastenings, hinges etc connected to the aluminium rather than the timber.

With regard to delivery times from Munster Joinery, then I signed off on the window drawings and dimensions on 3rd October, placed our order and paid for the windows on 7th October and they were delivered and fitted on 25th October. My guess is that their claimed 10 to 15 working day lead time is pretty much spot on. For comparison, all the other window suppliers I look at had at least a 6 week lead time, extending out to 10 weeks during the summer if your order happened to coincide with the big summer holiday period on the continent.

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 Alphonsox 25 Oct 2013 06:04 PM :

 Do you have hints on dealing with Munster ? The impression I get from around the web is that they are not particularly keen to deal with self builders.

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 coopers 25 Oct 2013 06:13 PM

 Makes you wonder how on earth they manage to make these mistakes with sizes – it costs them more to put it right!

I bet the entrance hall feels totally different now. They’re a nice pale colour on the inside, not like the “yellow varnished pine” colour you sometimes see.

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ProDave  25 Oct 2013 06:25 PM :

 Is it possible for a REALLY close up picture of say one external corner of one of these windows?

Is there ANY wood at all visible from the outside, no matter how small and insignificant?

I ask, because I wired a house with aluminium clad windows and was not impressed. If you looked hard, there were little gaps in places on the aluminium outside where you could see timber. And if you can see it, water will get in, and rot the wood behind the aluminium.

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jsharris 25 Oct 2013 06:27 PM :

 You’re spot on, they do not like dealing directly with self builders, and my experience of dealing with them was less than wonderful, to be honest. Their local sales rep to me is a good guy, and has been fine to deal with. The company as a whole is a different kettle of fish, and can be a real pain to work with.

In my case I got the quote via MBC which helped, in that it showed on their system as coming from MBC. The snag has been that I’ve struggled to get things sent to me from now on, the confirmation of delivery was sent to my site (how daft is that?) but was luckily intercepted by a friendly neighbour and passed on to me (it was addressed to MBC, but at my plot address).

The really daft thing here is that the windows and doors really are of a very high quality and performance, and are far less expensive than any of the other passive house windows we looked at (by a massive amount). If they were easier to deal with they would, I’m sure, pick up a lot more business from self-builders.

Talking to Joe Blair the other day (the nice chap that runs MBC Timberframe) he’s got so fed up with his customers having problems dealing with Munster Joinery that he went and had a meeting with them and from now on he’s going to offer to include their windows in the package that MBC Timberframe offer to self builders as a budget high performance passive house. This seems a great thing to do, as the combination of the MBC budget passive house package and the Munster Joinery windows and doors is going to make for a pretty unbeatable value for money high performance self build house package.

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jsharris 25 Oct 2013 06:34 PM :

 Sure Dave, I can take some close ups tomorrow. There is no wood on the outside at all, though, the outer seals seem to be aluminium – rubber – aluminium.

I don’t believe that any of the wood frame is exposed at all, certainly the metal straps that secure the windows (and clip to the sides of the windows before they are fitted) fit to the aluminium extrusions that form the outside of the windows. This part is sealed to the window aperture, so fully protects the internal laminated wood.

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 wittenham 25 Oct 2013 10:16 PM :

 I echo the good price and the difficulty of dealing with Munster… Joe is now our intermediary which has at least got us to the point of getting a quote.

Another point in their favour, alongside the good price…. quick delivery [on paper, anyway…!]

greg

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jsharris 26 Oct 2013 12:01 PM :

 Dave, I’ve edited this blog entry to show the detail of the edges of these windows. I did take a few more photos this morning, so it there are other bits you’d like more detail on just let me know.

Greg, delivery for us was 18 calendar days from placing the order, 15 working days.

Jeremy

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ProDave 26 Oct 2013 09:18 PM :

 Thanks for the pictures. They do look good.

The “problem” windows I saw were funny tilt and turn inward opening things. The aluminium cladding didn’t go all the way into the recess around the opening, so you could see little slivers of wood which I just know eill get wet and rot over time.

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coopers 28 Oct 2013 11:11 AM :

 Hi J,

Have your slates arrived yet? We saw these at the NSBRC this weekend. http://www.ecosystem….com/eco-slate/ – they seem more flexible and “rubbery” than the others we’ve seen so far.

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jsharris 28 Oct 2013 02:39 PM :

 No, not yet, but we’re now committed to using Ikoslate, as the planner has approved them and we’ve got them on order. The solar panel mounts are on and the panels should be fitted later this week, with the slates (hopefully) going on the week after that. The weather is causing some problems, with roofers working around the clock fixing damage from last night, so our schedule may yet slip a bit. Luckily the wind doesn’t seem to have been that high down in our sheltered little valley, as there was no indication of any wind damage when I went down to check and do some odd jobs around site thins morning.

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 ProDave 28 Oct 2013 07:33 PM :

 How does it work with solar PV and a new build?

Obviously the panels will be connected and generating very soon (if not already)

but I presume because of this EPC nonsense, you can’t apply for and start claiming your FIT until you get that magic EPC, which probably means not until completion.

Until then you are gifting them all your generated power?

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 jsharris 28 Oct 2013 08:56 PM :

 PV and a new build is a PITA, to be honest. I can’t complete the FIT registration until the house has a completion certificate, as they won’t accept a design EPC (even though in my case the design EPC is way, way over the top of band A) they will only accept the post-completion EPC.

In my case I’m not going to switch on the PV until post-completion, so there will be 6.25kWp of panels up there doing nothing useful until we’ve finished the build, despite the fact that they could be generating and contributing to the grid. It’s a stupid and incredibly bureaucratic bit of daft and totally pointless obstructionism put in place by myopic civil servants who really don’t give a @!## about either energy saving or effective microgeneration. I’m not at all fussed about not getting the FIT, the thing that gets my goat is that I’m not actually allowed to connect the PV array to the grid until I have a completion certificate and final EPC, which is, frankly, barking mad.

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ProDave 28 Oct 2013 09:59 PM :

 Sounds like my idea of getting an EPC for my site office is not so daft.

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 Ness 31 Oct 2013 11:52 AM

Look great…..nice to see the windows…..we are looking at internorm too! Great thread

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 coopers 31 Oct 2013 03:30 PM :

 Hi Jeremy, Did anyone from MBC come to your site , or was it all done from plans?

I’m hoping that someone from their team might be able to come and see us when they are over here next. I’ve sent them a couple of emails, but no reply…..

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jsharris 31 Oct 2013 04:22 PM :

 Yes, Joe came over to look at the site whilst we were doing the ground works, to get an idea of access etc. This was before we’d agreed and signed the contract, so we chatted through that at the same time. Joe seems to be over here every couple of weeks or so, or at least he has been over the past few weeks I think. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this, but I get the feeling he’s much happier talking on the phone than using email! I’ll PM you some contact details.

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 wittenham 01 Nov 2013 08:46 AM :

 Joe also came over to see our site long before we had agreed anything. We also had a few meetings at my [pre-demolished] house before signing the agreement.

I agree with Jeremy on his preference for phone vs email.

greg

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 coopers 08 Nov 2013 07:51 AM :

 Hi JSH, how is everything going? Did Munster replace the wrongly sized window? And how are the slates looking?

Suzanne

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 jsharris 08 Nov 2013 09:16 AM :

 Munster are coming to fit the replacement window on Monday, which isn’t that big a delay, given these Ecoclad windows are made in the Irish factory, rather than the one up in Warwickshire. Munster after-sales service has been pretty good, there’ve been a couple of minior snags (like a bit of missing trim and the window keys missing) but they are being quickly sorted by the local rep..

The slates aren’t on yet, as we’re stuck waiting for a bit of flashing to complete the in-roof PV kit. Our layout has four internal corners between the panels and the flashing kits that were sent over from France wouldn’t fit. There’s a bit of head-scratching going on at the moment as to how to resolve the problem, as it’s delaying getting the house truly watertight.

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 coopers 08 Nov 2013 09:27 AM :

 It just goes to show that problems and delays like this are unavoidable, even for someone as meticulous as you, Jeremy!

It makes you wonder what would happen if you weren’t managing it – would someone just bodge it, and cover it up?

Watched a house building programme last night – a timber frame house built on a houseboat! Completely botched by the contractor and all nicely hidden under the timber cladding – it was starting to rot before it was even finished. Scary!

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2 thoughts on “Part Twenty – The Windows And Doors Are In (Almost)”

  1. Hi Jeremy,

    I was wondering if you had pictures of your outside flashing detail. Did you tape from the windows to the breather membrane to keep moisture out of the gap between your window and your frame? Having difficulty agreeing a window position and a sealing deatail with the supplier.

    My thinking is in line with the outside of the TF. They have recommended protruding past the frame into the “cavity”. However I’m installing half aquapanel with render and half double beveled timber cladding rainscreen! The “cavity” the speak of is the battens to mount the systems. Interested in your thoughts on this!

    1. Hi Edward,

      First off, it’s far, far more thermally efficient to have the windows set as fully into the insulated layer as possible, at a minimum this means fitting the windows with the outer face flush with the timber frame and then have deeper external reveals. Deeper reveals has the added advantage of slightly reducing high angle sun in summer, so slightly reducing the over heating risk, whilst still allowing full solar gain in winter.

      There is a standard TRADA detail covering the way to allow any water that penetrates behind the rain screen (cladding, render board etc), which I sort of copied. TRADA recommend using a custom bent aluminium flashing, but I found that the flexible lead substitute flashing (don’t use lead – it can stain the glass) worked very well and could easily be shaped as it was fitted. It doesn’t show when installed, as it’s fitted so that it’s almost hidden. There is a post of Buildhub where this detail is discussed, and which includes a sketch of the way I did it:

      http://forum.buildhub.org.uk/ipb/topic/274-window-opening-details/#comment-3693

      Hope this helps,

      Jeremy

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