The world of architectural glazing and technologies can be a tricky one for non-building professionals to navigate. Glazing is highly technical in general and when selecting glass installations to be used in your home you want to make sure that you are making the right choices. We sat down with one of our most experienced technical experts, Chris Walker, to ask him what questions a homeowner must ask when buying architectural glazing.
Architectural Glazing is a complex area of the building sector. You want to make sure that the company you work with has proven and successful experience in creating glass installations for residential projects.
You should ask:
- Has your chosen supplier shown a historical aptitude for the type of works you are purchasing?
- Have you met the glazier's management team? Are they experienced?
IQ Glass has the largest portfolio of contemporary glass installations of any UK company. A broad selection of full case studies is available to view on our website as well as external portfolio websites such as Houzz. You can also take a look at our In the Media page to see our projects featured on TV and various architectural magazines.
The management team at IQ Glass has an average of 18 years’ experience in high-specification and complex glazing installations. They are ready and able to assist in all areas of your project management and execution.
The products you pick and their design is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a successful architectural glazing project. Due to the minimal tolerances available from glass, the installation is almost as important as anything that comes before this.
- Who will be installing your products? How many direct installers does the company have?
- What are their logistical facilities? How many vehicles do they have? What are their warehousing facilities?
- How is your glazing going to be installed? Does the company use glass handling equipment in accordance with Health and Safety regulations?
These may sound like pointless questions but their answers will have a great impact of the efficiency and smooth running of your project.
IQ Glass has over 90 site based technical fitters that install specialist glazing all over the UK on some of the most difficult sites imaginable.
Utilising the company’s own latest glass handling machinery on site allows us to safely and effectively transport and install large or complex glazing installations. We are also partnered with the leading handling equipment manufacturer to develop more agile glass lifting capabilities.
We have a large fleet of modern commercial vehicles transporting installers and goods to all our sites. These vehicles are never more than 3 years old to minimise breakdown disruption.
IQ operate a large warehousing facility in Amersham as well as a secondary site near Heathrow on the site of our aluminium fabrication plant. These large resources allow us to store and stock a huge number of components to cope quickly with any unforeseen issues on site.
It is important to consider who you will be working with on your project. As there are many components that go into creating a successful glass project you want to make sure that your chosen glazier has these resources in-house to make the project a success.
- What design resources does the company have that will be available to you?
- Who will be your contact?
- Who will be managing your project?
- What about a site survey? Does the company have a dedicated surveying team?
- Does your chosen glazier have an in-house mastic/silicone application team or do they subcontract?
The IQ Glass contracts management team are highly experienced project managers with the sole goal of ensuring your project is delivered correctly and efficiently.
They regularly attend updated training courses and technical seminars to ensure they are fully briefed on the latest regulations, Health & Safety and site-based requirements. We regularly meet with the supply chain, building strong relationships to ensure the integrity of our supply chain.
The design department at IQ Glass comprises of 10 full time, qualified designers supported by a Structural Engineer. They utilise all the latest design and structural engineering software to fully design the fixings, detailing and connections to your glass installation.
For site surveys, IQ understands the importance of specialised staff for these precise and detail orientated roles. Whereas other companies use general fixers to survey IQ Glass have a dedicated team of site surveyors whose sole responsibility is the accurate survey and inspection of sites. They use the latest surveying equipment, including laser and 3D surveys, to ensure correct dimensions are taken from the necessary datum’s, minimising site related drawing errors that can be all too frequent if proper surveys are not conducted.
On the other side of the installation, IQ Glass know that when you are constructing frameless structural glass the most important aesthetic is the application of the silicone joints. Some of the best installations can be ruined by poor silicone application. With that knowledge, we have created a crack in-house team of mastic applicators who are considered the best in the business. Their specialised silicone vehicles are kitted out specifically for this specialised trade.
It is an unfortunate trait of some of the smaller, less established glazing companies to dissolve abruptly, taking your deposit and any other invested funds with them. You need to make sure that your chosen glazier is financially sound and secure before you give them your money.
- How financially secure is your chosen glazier?
- Have you carried out a financial check on the company?
IQ Glass is an established, financially stable company of some £30M turnover. We have an ’A+’ credit rating and have the best payment profile of any company within the whole glazing industry. Specialising in high detail projects, we do no embark on risky commercial projects nor do we offer credit.
All customer deposits are held in the bank account which always has a balance in excess of £3M. Our bank manager is always on hand if references are required of our impeccable banking records.
Understanding The Scope Of Work
A big issue when comparing and contrasting works and proposed costs for glazing is a misunderstanding of what is required and the quotation of below standard glass specifications.
- Have you been provided with a clear definition of the scope of understood works?
- Has your glazing contractor produced a detailed quotation, itemised?
- What specification of glass will be used?
- What additional costs will be involved and have they been detailed and explained?
IQ Glass produce detailed quotations for every project priced, supported with hyperlinks to illustrate the products suggested. Full descriptions of the proposed installations are included within the quotation to avoid any potential issues. The quote is clearly broken down by item, identified and described.
We will always supply a detailed description of glass specifications to be used with an indicative thermal performance. We can also advise on the use of specialist glass coatings or finishes if required.
Looking at pictures of glazing products is all well and good but you can’t get a true impression of their performance and feel without seeing them in person. You should always work with a glazier that has a showroom, that shows they are happy for customers to view and inspect their products before they are installed on site!
- Have you visited the glazing suppliers showroom and physically seen the products you are buying?
- Have you seen examples of colour options?
- Are the viewed products assembled built and working?
IQ Glass has a comprehensive glass showroom based at our offices in Amersham where potential purchasers can view the product choices and typical detailing as it would appear on site.
The IQ Showroom glazing forms part of the fabric of the building, is exposed to the elements and real-life usage so you can get a real idea as to how your products will look in situ.
Plus you can also view colour samples and framing cuts to see how these complex frames are actually constructed.
References and Customer Satisfaction
Past references are important. But I would advise taking online reviews with a pinch of salt. In most cases, the only people with the energy left to write an online review after a building project is someone with a bee in their bonnet, that normally means something did not go smoothly on their project.
Do read online reviews but also take in the responses. What was the issue for the delay on the project? What has the glazing company offered as a response?
A bad online review is never something a company wants. But a good response to an unhappy review can tell you a lot about the company you are due to work with.
A better true insight into the architectural glazier would be to speak to companies or individuals that work with them time and time again.
- Have you seen user references on your chosen supplier from a range of sources?
Bearing in mind that not everything you read on a website may be 100% genuine it is important to get real-life references from past clients of your proposed glazier.
IQ Glass can provide references from past homeowners, local architects as well as contractors who use us time and time again and can provide contact details for you to contact them directly.
We are proud to have one of the highest returning clients rates within the glazing sector with some architects and contractors only ever using IQ Glass for their projects. Various external reviews can also be found on various consumer pages such as Houzz and Google+.
- Does your glazing supplier manufacture their own products?
- Who manufactures the products they are supplying and where are they manufactured?
The IQ Group has a number of manufacturing facilities, fabricating a wide number of the products that we offer, ensuring proper protection of our supply chain. Each factory is strategically located around the M25 for ease of access to London sites and UK wide.
LAG (London Architectural Glass) is based near Heathrow and processes high specification glass for our minimal windows systems and structural glass installations.
Hedgehog Aluminium Systems, based on the same site as LAG, fabricates our Sieger aluminium window and door systems.
IQ Metal near Broxbourne is responsible for fabricating our steel and architectural metal systems including the thermally broken Mondrian® External Windows and Doors.
Don't afraid to be nosey when scoping out a potential glazing partner for your project. Ask questions, go and visit their offices, see the products in person. All the team at IQ are happy and willing to answer any questions that a potential customer has. Just send us an email or call the office on 01494 722 880.