What to consider if replacing windows in High Rise Buildings

Managing high-rise residential buildings brings a unique set of challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining windows. For senior managers at UK housing associations, councils, and those involved in student living or residential block management, the dilemma of addressing window issues can be daunting.  One key aspect is that replacing windows in High-Rise buildings on an ad-hoc basis is very difficult.  This article explains what to consider if replacing windows in High Rise Buildings.  It also looks at why window overhaul should be considered as an alternative to window replacement.

Need for Access Both Sides of the Window – Cost of Access Equipment or Scaffolding

One of the most significant hurdles in window replacement in tall structures is accessing both sides of the window. This often necessitates the use of expensive access equipment or scaffolding. The cost of such equipment, not to mention the time it takes to erect and dismantle scaffolding, can significantly inflate the budget. Moreover, the presence of scaffolding can be a security concern, increasing the risk of unauthorized access to the building. An overhaul approach, focusing on repairing rather than replacing, can often be conducted from the interior or with minimal external access, dramatically reducing these costs and security risks.

Health and Safety Risks

The health and safety risks associated with window replacement in high-rise buildings cannot be overstated. The potential for falls from height, or for tools and materials to be dropped onto pedestrians or property below, is a significant concern. These risks necessitate the closure of large areas, including roads and streets, to ensure the safety of the public and workers. Such closures can disrupt local communities and businesses, leading to frustration and potential financial loss. Again, by opting for an overhaul approach, these risks are substantially minimized as the work scope is less invasive and can be managed with more controlled safety measures.

Building Render or Facades

Upgrading windows in high-rise living accommodation blocks that have been rendered or over-clad since the original windows were installed poses significant challenges. One of the primary concerns is the potential for damage to the cladding or facade during the window replacement process. The integration of modern windows with existing cladding systems requires precision and care to avoid compromising the building’s exterior integrity. Furthermore, replacing or repairing any damaged cladding can be costly and time-consuming, often requiring specialist contractors familiar with the specific materials and construction techniques used.

Cavity Barriers – Fire Safety

Fire safety is a paramount concern in the maintenance and refurbishment of high-rise living accommodations, particularly regarding the integrity of cavity barriers around openings such as windows. These barriers are crucial for preventing the spread of fire and smoke through cavities in the building’s structure, including those surrounding window frames.

The process of replacing windows, which involves removing the existing frames, can inadvertently compromise these essential fire safety measures. Disrupting the continuity of cavity barriers poses a significant risk, potentially facilitating the rapid spread of fire between compartments or floors.

Conversely, opting to overhaul window components while leaving the original frame in place avoids this critical issue. This method ensures that the integrity of cavity barriers is maintained, upholding the building’s fire safety measures without introducing unnecessary risk.

Sustainability

Refurbishing windows instead of opting for complete replacement offers a sustainable approach with profound environmental benefits. The decision to repair and maintain existing window frames, instead of installing new ones, plays a critical role in conserving resources. Thousands of kilograms of materials such as PVC-u, timber, or aluminium can be saved, directly reducing the demand for these raw materials and the energy-intensive processes associated with their production and transportation. Additionally, the environmental impact associated with waste disposal is significantly lessened, as fewer materials end up in landfills or require recycling.

Disruption to Residents

Window replacement projects can be lengthy, noisy, and invasive, impacting the daily lives of those living in the building. Overhaul work, on the other hand, is typically quicker, quieter, and less disruptive, meaning residents can continue their daily routines with minimal interruption. This approach not only maintains a more harmonious living environment but also mitigates complaints and dissatisfaction among residents.

On our Market Hill project for ONGO in Scunthorpe, windows were overhauled without residents having to leave their property.  In some cases they didn’t even have to leave the room while our engineer renewed the parts on their windows.

Compliance with Building Standards

All replacement windows and doors that are located in buildings higher than 18 metres (approximately 6 or 7 floors) need to be inspected and approved by your relevant local authority building control department, or independently approved inspector and cannot be covered under the Fensa scheme.

This add cost and time to the window replacement process that does not occur if the window is overhauled with parts being replaced.

SAFEKEEP

Speak to Mila if you have any issues with High-Rise window repairs that you manage.  Mila are the experts for this kind of project.  We have over 30 years experience and access to the best window supply chain in the market.  Our engineers are fully training for working at height, harness working and protecting residents when carrying out repairs.  Our simple model is called SAFEKEEP.

Survey (S): Detailed Checks with Tailored Reporting

Our engineers conduct meticulous checks on your windows and doors.  Firstly for correct operation. Then for compliance with health and safety regulations.  Thirdly, signs of water and air ingress. We also consider any additional factors requested by our clients to furnish landlords with a detailed report. Not only does this report spotlight areas that need fixing. It also serves as a tangible audit trail, showcasing safety precautions undertaken. Finally, the report proposes potential enhancements for the windows.

Adjust (A): Preventing Small Issues from Becoming Major Ones

The emphasis here is on proactive care. Windows require continual small adjustments to windows and regular lubrication.  This prevents minor issues from spiraling into bigger, costlier problems. Guarding against more significant repairs and, worst case, complete window replacements.

Fix (F): Swift and Uncomplicated Solutions

Our approach to fixing is straightforward and effective. Once a problem is identified, our team ensures it’s repaired efficiently.  We prioritise the safety and functionality of the windows and doors to uphold the comfort and security of our residents.

Enhance (E): Advancing Beyond the Basic Functions

Enhancements go beyond mere fixes. It could involve elevating ventilation to combat issues like mould or damp. Or escalating the energy efficiency of windows. Or upgrading security features. In every enhancement action, the objective is to boost the existing functionality. Enhancements may also prolong the lifespan of your installations.

KEEP: Keep your Windows and Residents SAFE

By engaging in long-term contracts, landlords can spread repair costs over an extended period. They gain preferential access to Mila’s responsive repair services. The ‘KEEP’ phase protects your window and door investment.  It is the scheduled programme of future safety audits.  This provides a steadfast availability of a repairs service when it’s needed.  It’s how you KEEP your resident’s windows operational over the long-term with all safety measures functional.  It’s how you prevent small problems becoming large expensive ones.

Learn more about how SAFEKEEP can benefit your properties. Contact Mila today to request our High Level Window Maintenance Brochure

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