Yesterday was something of a red letter day in the history of my Cornish cottage. I've moved into the twenty first century with the two main windows of my home being replaced by double glazed units! Being a mid terraced cottage there isn't a lot of fenestration, in fact I have a total of just five windows. Of these three are quite small and of the casement type and certainly for the moment can soldier on but there are also two more substantial sash windows and they were getting to the stage where something fairly drastic would have to be done. Enemy number one in Cornwall is the considerable damp that we experience (the countryside never fails to look green and lush and wellies are the most important footwear items to own) so combating this damp is always likely to be the most pressing problem a homeowner has to face here.
With the downturn in the housing market and less cash for home improvements the double glazing firms have been taking to the road in my neck of the woods. This may also be because folk such as myself have wised up to the telephone preference service which stops cold callers ringing when you are just about to take your tea out of the oven or watching the most exciting moment in a film or, in my case for example you just do not want cold callers, period! The outcome of someone knocking on my door and subsequently making an appointment was that I took a deep breath and gave an order to 'Everest' to supply and fit two new windows.
I have just been reading a review site as a prelude to writing this piece in which a number of people have had really bad experiences with Everest but these seem in the main to have been quite tricky serious construction projects sometimes with sub contractors involved. In the dim and distant past I seem to recall Everest getting a slating on the old Watchdog programme with some viewers disasters. However in my case it was just a relatively straightforward case of two old windows out and two new ones in and furthermore that firm had fitted replacement windows in at least two other properties in the row. Our houses aren't listed or in a conservation area and unsurprisingly are seeing an invasion of UPVC. Not my home though! Although timber windows are a horrendous price I have always been determined that nothing else would do (or wood do perhaps I should write - just thought of that!).
So what's the verdict? The new windows appear to have been made to a very high standard, apparently a firm in Scotland makes the timber windows used by Everest and I imagine that computerised machinery is used in the process. Certainly the surveyor spent a considerable amount of time here measuring to the millimetre and the installation was a nice snug fit. The sashes are made to a close tolerance seemingly - it takes quite a moderate effort to heave them up or push them down and I would think that someone who wasn't very strong might find them a bit of a struggle. As with the originals I asked that they be painted in white and that is how they arrived. The two relatively young lads who did the installation were polite and very hard working. I don't know that they stopped between arriving a little after nine in the morning and leaving mid afternoon. They did a very professional and clean job and caused virtually no damage whilst doing it. During the course of the morning a lady from their office phoned me to see how they were getting on, a nice touch.
For this job then the company was really good but if I was having a major job done - having some sort of extension built, moving services etc where there was likely to be sub-contractors muddying the water I would be tempted to go to a well established and reputable local builder. As to durability, if I'm still here in ten years time and still blogging, then I'll let you know how the windows have performed under Cornish climatic conditions!
UPDATE: Had a phone call today (17 July) from the DG salesman. He asked if he could pop round later which he has now done. He wanted to see his client to make sure all was OK - this was good to have a little after sales service. I mentioned that I had made an entry on my blog praising the service I had received from Everest but pointing out I had mentioned the fact that some people had been very unhappy with the firm as evidenced by a review site I had visited. He made the obvious and valid point which I knew he would that there are some people you cannot please but I did point out to him that the main criticisms appear to have been regarding major improvements where sub-contractors were involved. Chris reckoned that Everest no longer employ sub-contractors except on driveways where they use just one specialist company. So hopefully there is now proper quality control.
I mentioned to him that I was pleased with the attitude and professionalism of the fitters and he thanked me for that and said he would relay that information back to his boss. If workmanship is well below par then I believe people have a right to complain but I think also some praise isn't a bad thing when one is the recipient of a job very well done. I have to say that when it comes to tradesmen there are some exceptionally good men and women out there and it's too easy to take them for granted.