Buying Windows – How long Should My Lead Time Be?
How Long From Order to Delivery?
For Aluclad windows you might be quoted turnaround times of anything between four to twelve weeks. The truth is that eight weeks is the norm for most companies these days. The average timeline is six weeks for timber and usually can be reduced to four for PvC. So why can some companies do it so much quicker? Well generally there are one of two reasons a company will have a quick turnaround time. Firstly it might mean that they are truly a gargantuan operation and as such, can afford to have a constant stock of materials to draw from. If this is the case then it is important to be aware of other potential issues. Larger manufacturers can sometimes have so many sales reps that they lack depth in experience when recommending the right product for your requirements. Similarly there are occasional issues with the quality of fitting and indeed fulfilling the aftercare needs that might result from this. The other possibility is that they are a smaller operation just without many jobs in the offing. In either case, if you are quoted a short lead time, it is highly advisable to do some online research on the company to hear about other consumers’ experience of their service.
Why Does It Take So Long?
Quality windows simply have a lot of processes to go through before they are ready for installation. To give you an idea, I will list some of the processes involved in fabricating Wood Frame Windows.
Procurement: Most manufacturers procure materials on a job to job basis.
Cutting: Applicable materials are cut to length for each product.
Profiling: CNC machines are used to shape the timber to its required form.
End Dipping: Whenever timber is cut it is treated and sealed for longevity.
Assembly: The treated and formed lengths are joined to create frames.
Impregnation: A sealing treatment to increase timber durability and longevity.
Middle Coat: The first application of your chosen colour.
Finish Coat: The final coating of your selected RAL colour.
Mechanisms: Hinges and Gearing must be added with precision.
Glazing: Finally the glass of your choice and the external beading is added to complete the windows.
Packaging: Of course don’t forget, the windows must be carefully packaged for safe transport.
Why Does It Matter So Much?
To the uninitiated, it might seem as though the lead time for window delivery shouldn’t be an issue. Doesn’t it take months to build a house anyway? Can’t they just be ordered before you start construction? While the answer to the former question is yes, the unfortunate answer to the latter is usually no. If you are building a wood-framed house, which are prefabricated with precision, you can rely on the sizing matching the plans. However, when you are building with blockwork, the majority of builders simply do not build to the plans with any kind of precision. Many of them will simply build openings to the nearest full block, refusing to even split any blocks. This means that the discrepancy between the plans and the finished openings can be considerable and by extension it means that the openings simply must be measured upon completion before any order is processed. If this is not done efficiently and at the right juncture of your build, it can cause downtime on site. Anyone who has built a house will agree that the last thing you want is your team moving on to another job because they are waiting on window installation.
How to Pre-empt Any Delays in Your Build
We spoke to Walter at Zyle Fenster Ireland and asked him how best to avoid any delays associated with the lead time of windows, and he gave us the following advice.
“The best way to keep your build going smoothly is to ensure that you call me to measure the windows the moment the last opening is complete. This means that when I put through your order, your team can continue with constructing the entire roof while your windows are in production. If you are lucky enough to have a consistent run of good weather and complete your roof in say four or five weeks, then the finished floor can be applied to our agreed height. Following this there is always ground works to be done. The key element is planning and scheduling; when that is in place there should be little to no issue with an eight week lead in time. Essentially, it is simply worth it to have high quality windows going forward.”
With this advice, it seems as though lead-in times shouldn’t cause too much of a ruckus for the organised home builder, but it is certainly beneficial to make yourselves aware of them early on and plan accordingly.
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