REHAU has warned fabricators and installers they risk fitting substandard windows and doors and incurring hefty fines every time they use non-approved steel reinforcements for PVC-U installations.
Mark Gajda, Certification and Quality Manager at REHAU, said: “It’s important that fabricators and installers understand the consequences of purchasing reinforcements from non-system approved suppliers and recognise the risks to their customers and their business.
“Every time an installation is fitted using alternative components not approved by the supplier, the fabricator is essentially changing the physical make up of an approved design and therefore it will not perform as expected. This practice has repercussions for safety, quality and the reputation of the windows industry as a whole.”
It is not against the law for fabricators or installers to purchase and use steel or aluminium reinforcements from a third party – rather than a system – supplier, yet it can have very serious financial and legal consequences.
Firstly, the product may not perform as it should in situ. For example, the structural or wind loading calculations will no longer be valid if the reinforcements are different from those specified by the system manufacturer, and any BIM modelling data supplied by them will also be incorrect. The WER rating and U-value calculations will also be invalid and thermal performance could be adversely affected too.
Secondly, the use of third party reinforcements invalidates any industry standards previously accredited to the system. Standards – such as PAS24 and BS 6375 – are awarded on the basis that the same components and hardware are used by the fabricators and installers of the product, and they are therefore of equal standard to the windows or doors that were assessed under test conditions.
Failure to meet PAS24 standards also means that installers or fabricators need to find another way of meeting the Approved Document Q of the Building Regulations for England.
Third party certifications, such as BSI Kitemark, CE Marking DoP are also invalidated by the use of non-approved components. To retain these certifications, fabricators need to retest the altered products – at their own expense – to prove their product still complies with the standards. The cost of certification testing can run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Fabricators and installers using alternative steel or aluminium reinforcements also forfeit the manufacturer’s warranty for the products, should the third-party components cause issues further down the line. This means that any repairs or replacement required will also need to be done at the expense of the fabricator and installer.
Mark concludes: “Maintaining the synergy between tested products and installed products is the only way that we can assure customers that the products being fitted do what they say they will in terms of performance and standards. Any changes or third-party components introduce unnecessary risks and can damage the reputation of the supplier, the fabricator and the installer so we would urge people to think ‘real deal’ when it comes to steel.”