What you see above (just about) ladies and gents is part of a stone a lintel. In this case, it forms a nice big traditional one, like they used to put above windows and doors back in the good old days. However, these are not the good old days and there are properties out there, usually 40-50 years old which for whatever reason, do not have lintels above the windows and doors. They’re not everywhere, but they are there. And putting that right is something I think we should all be doing when fitting new windows and doors.

We have recently had a spate of properties where we have had to fit lintels to the external brickwork above windows and doors as there weren’t any there in the first place. Whenever we come across homes without lintels to the external brickwork, we always explain to the customer that there aren’t any there and that there is a risk that when we take the windows and doors out, the bricks above are unsupported and they could fall. So, as good practice, we always price to install lintels as part of the job before the new windows and doors are installed, that way we can ensure the job is done correctly and that we don’t have to bodge any bricks back in. We have done this for years, and if memory serves me correctly, FENSA does actually say it is best practice for the installation company to install lintels where there aren’t any already. Does this mean that it’s actually a law, or just best practice – not hard and fast?

Whether it is a law or not, this is our practice as we know the standard of installation is better for it, and that loose or dodgy bricks don’t cause further long term problems. However, we seem to be the only business round our parts actually taking any notice of it. All too often the customers tell me that ours is the only company that even mentions lintels. Most say that when clients bring it up with other installations companies, it is just shrugged off. Now some clients admire us for the fact that we pay attention to the lintels, or lack of them. Some look at us suspiciously, as though we’re making it up to try and make some more money out them. It’s a hard argument to win sometimes.

But as far as I’m concerned, if something is classed as best practice, then we should all be doing it. Lintels provide a vital service in keeping brickwork supported above windows and doors, so no unnecessary weight is resting on them. They’re even more vital when it comes to replacing windows and doors. Companies not putting lintels in when windows don’t currently have them are risking the quality of the job. What if the bricks drop when you take the window out? Just bodge prop them up while you slide the new one in? Not exactly top notch work is it.

I’m not a fan of laws, but if there was ever a case for one to be made, I personally would make it absolute law that any windows and doors that don’t currently have lintels above them to the external brickwork, must have them installed when replacing the windows and doors. Making it law will not only put all installation companies on the same page, but also help raise the quality of installations overall.

Do you install lintels when you find they are lacking? Do you just fit the windows and doors and leave it at that? It would be great to see some comments on this one to see what the industry standard seems to be.