This doesn’t mean to be an overly negative post, but it may come across as one. The way Britain loves a bargain, a sale, an offer, a deal, we often put price as a priority before anything else. And that is fine, it seems to work for us. But when you look at things like construction and fenestration products in other countries, they’re strides ahead of us. The reason? They don’t put price before progress.
A fabric first approach
In other countries, like Germany, Austria, the Scandinavian countries etc, they have a fabric first approach to their construction industry. It means that before anything else, including price, the quality of the building they are constructing is put before anything else. That means all the products going into the build are prioritised on quality first too, including windows and doors.
I have a friend, Mark McLean who is based in Scotland, who regularly visits these parts of the world and he explains that some of their cow sheds are better built than some of our homes! And when you think about it long term, it probably isn’t a more expensive way to build.
If you build on mass and cheaply like we do, the quality suffers. When you look at house builders like Persimmon and Redrow, they will put in the type of windows and doors that just pass the laws and regs, not the ones that are at the top of the pile in terms of quality. It means that when the homeowner moves in, they will have to replace those windows and doors much sooner.
Whereas, a better quality window from the start means it will last a lot longer, so the owner of the home doesn’t end up paying out to replace them until they really have to.
It all sounds ideal. Construction companies building better homes and buildings that will last longer and the products making them lasting longer too. Unfortunately that’s not how we think in this country.
If there is a corner that can be cut to squeeze a few more quid profit out of the build then that’s what happens. We’re too focused on price when it comes to things like fenestration and construction. And it’s that focus which holds back progress in my opinion.
I reckon there are tons of R&D departments up and down the UK coming up with all sorts of brilliant and expensive new products ideal for ours and the construction industry. I also reckon that a lot of these products are shot down or made to be watered down for fear of price. And it’s this which puts progress in this country back. We find ways to build things better and make things better, then we’re pegged back because of price worries.
You only need to look at the types of windows and doors being made in Germany and Austria, even Poland, to see how far ahead they are than what we produce. I have even heard that one German hardware company has turned down the chance to sell their products here because we’re too price orientated.
It’s this price focus which holds us back, and even the cause of certain problems we often complain about, such as pitting hardware. If we really want to start driving forward with some intent, and rid ourselves of the niggles we have week in week out in business, we need to start putting quality first and price lower down the list. Not everyone will agree with me, but I believe long term, this is a more economical way to go.