“We are a small family home improvement company in Berkshire mostly specialising in replacement windows and doors but occasionally getting involved in other trades. I have seen that the Green Homes Grant scheme is being extended and we are being asked about grants by our customers. I am struggling to make head or tail of it to be honest. Can you throw any light on it?”

(DJ Reading)

I can DJ. And it’s very simple: don’t waste your breath.

For a start you need to be compliant with PAS 2020:2017; PAS 2030:2019; and PAS 2035:2019, and a member of the Trustmark scheme. No?

According to the BSI website these are standards ‘Sponsored by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), this PAS is a key document in a framework of new and existing standards on how to conduct effective energy retrofits of existing buildings. PAS 2035 covers how to assess dwellings for retrofit, identify improvement options, design and specify Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) and monitor retrofit projects. Meanwhile PAS 2030, which was redeveloped in conjunction with PAS 2035, covers the installation, commissioning, and handover of retrofit projects. Organizations which trade using the Trustmark government endorsed quality scheme are required to comply with PAS 2035.’

And to my mind these look like requirements that are designed to exclude the vast majority of established window and door companies, with just a handful of window companies in each area apparently complying with these standards. And if I was cynical, I would smell some sort of conspiracy between the government trying to coral window companies into the Trustmark scheme and at at the exclusion of the GGF (now no longer associated with Trustmark) and even FENSA, through which I believe you can become a member of Trustmark (but I assume, only after you have become compliant with PAS 2030/PAS 2035). Phew….I know.

HOWEVER….let us assume that you have decided to go down this convoluted route and decide to go through the processes and become compliant….you’re all set, right?

Well maybe…as long as you can find the handful of homes with what I describe as ‘unicorn’ – that is single glazed – windows, which you might just struggle to find in your neighbourhood; perhaps start with any stately homes nearby?

And it gets better, or worse, depending upon your point of view. Because windows and doors are tagged as ‘secondary measures’, that is those available after homeowners have dealt with such improvements as insulation and low carbon heat sources including air and ground source heat pumps. And with a grant of £5k maximum for private individuals there won’t exactly be a lot left for replacement windows after the installation of a ground source heat pump.

What is crystal clear however, just so you can respond to those customers looking for handouts towards their new bi-folding doors and smart flush sash windows (replacing knackered old vintage Monarch ali frames) is that they most certainly can forget all about any sort of government bailout.

The Green Homes Grant scheme is designed with worthy enough ideals, perhaps, but it was launched poorly and after early hopes for a bonanza by the double glazing industry, it quickly became clear that it would only benefit the leakiest homes with work for few, if any mainstream replacement window and door specialists.

I note that our beloved GGF advises that it is pursuing the Government to try and spread the love to homes that have the earliest double-glazed windows installed but otherwise, our industry appears to be woefully underrepresented in all of this.

On a final note DJ I have to ask you why you are interested at all? I cannot believe that you, just like every other window and door installer in the UK, are not also completely rammed with work and especially in the usual mayhem that is the run up to Christmas. Leave Green Homes, such as it is, to the birds and focus on upselling punters that are gagging for new full priced, fully specced windows and doors, that won’t require going back to school and a mountain of paperwork to get the business.

 

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