We hand the Bohle column over to Andy Cocker, EJ Cocker & Sons, who discusses the opportunities in heritage glass.
For us, heritage and sash renovation has been a real winner. It may simply be the product of where we’re based – in London and the South East – but we’re seeing a huge demand for units going into traditional and historic buildings.
There’s been a real growth in the number of renovations of period offices and also private homes, particularly in London, since the upturn in the economy and this includes a lot of Listed properties.
These properties often sit in conservation areas and that means that renovation comes with strict planning controls and that pushes developers to the specialist joiners who we work with. It’s about trying to achieve a balance between the energy efficiency that’s important to end users but the aesthetic that the planners are looking for.
The biggest challenge we found was developing a unit which would work with traditional rebates. We now manufacture a specialist heritage unit which is available with an overall unit thickness of 12mm or even down to 11mm, with a sightline of 7mm.
Manufactured in two 4mm toughened sheets of glass and 4mm cavity closer filled with krypton gas, it allows joinery companies to deliver an energy efficient but aesthetically sympathetic window.
This can be face puttied or beaded and it’s ideal for installation to traditional sash windows. It’s a niche market but one which we expect to remain strong because it allows developers to deliver on energy efficiency but still meet regulations and controls.
We have supplied it into so many different properties, offices, apartments. It’s not cheap but the demand is there and planners don’t give developers much choice the minute ‘conservation’ or ‘heritage’ are mentioned.
It’s been a real advantage to us because it means that we’re supplying a glazed unit that isn’t all about price. The costs of supply of units on heritage refurbishments aren’t negligible but as part of the whole, aren’t particularly significant, so it’s good margin work.
I think that’s what IGU and glass processors need to be looking for. It’s a niche and it works for us. The other things that we’re doing a lot of are mirrored wardrobes and glass balustrades.
Glass balustrades are exactly the same as heritage units – they generate good margin and there’s growing demand. We’re supplying the same joiners we supply units to with balustrade systems, it’s bespoke and its higher margin.
Competition on a standard IGU is high. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll have a go at supplying more or less anything to more or less anyone but it’s good to be in a sector which isn’t driven solely by price but by the technical performance of your offer and the quality of what you’re delivering.
* Bohle Easy Mount Vario. and the Easy Mount system are fully tested to BS6180:2011. Suitable for floor or lateral mounting offering quick and easy glass alignment with adjustment from just one side.
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