If you’re a fabricator looking to stand out from the crowd when that crowd is becoming increasingly vocal and diverse, what do you do? You up the ante. And with Opus, this is what Prefix Systems is aiming to do. Known as the largest fabricator of Ultraframe products, Prefix have invested their resources to produce a product that belongs to a part of the sector that is really only in it’s infancy.
No better time to take a closer look at it then.
Opus is a range of luxury windows and doors made from high-end timber internally and aluminium externally. There are three finishes that the hardwood can come in, ranging from light to dark, or it can be left untreated for the home owner to finish to their own tastes. Prefix use Smart as their choice of aluminium glazing system, and I have been told that any Smart aluminium window product is available as the external finish.
This is a next generation composite window and door system that aims to raise the bar if quality in this particularly new niche.
I first saw Opus for myself at this year’s FIT Show and it was one of the standout products for me. Visually, the deep timber profile and the sleek aluminium outside makes it impossible to not notice. It’s a very high quality hardwood that Prefix has chosen, and it really does stand out. Partnering with Clayton Glass, National Fenestration Award winners in 2015, the glazing options are of the same high quality.
But for me, perhaps one of the most powerful USPs of this product was the smell. I stepped into a glazed extension on their stand produced using the Opus product and the thing I remember the most was the powerful smell of that high quality hardwood. The smell of timber is always a pleasing one, and in age if visual importance, I think the smell of this product will help increase the allure of the product.
We now have an Opus sample window in our showroom, and already it is starting to attract attention from home owners who come in. It’s impossible not to notice it.
A focus on luxury
There is nothing low-end about this. You only need to look at the quality of the hardwood and how it has been put together to see that.
Prefix, along with a number of other high profile fabricators, understand that in the search for better profit margins and capturing market share of new sectors, high-end fenestration products is the only way to go.
The industry is fluent in producing and selling low-end windows and doors. It’s helped give the wider sector it’s less than respectable reputation. However, since the recession and the massive diversification which that period of time sparked, there has been a section of the industry that has decided to follow a different route.
Parts of the industry have correctly identified that if they are to grow profitably and with strength, then the luxury end of the market is the way to go. Home owners, self-builders and architects are increasingly willing to spend higher sums of money on very high-end windows and doors. Pre-recession, the number of luxury window and door systems available to the residential market were limited. This is certainly not the case now. And Opus is certainly aiming at that part of the market.
They won’t be outselling PVCu windows and doors any time soon. But then again that’s not the point of this product.
A certain clientele
Opus is aimed at a certain type of home owner. Specifically, self-builders, architects and owners of high value homes in traditional and aspirational areas. Not that this product is off limits to anyone, but given the price point of Opus and it’s particular looks and style, it’s going to attract a certain type of demographic.
This also means that contracts for Opus won’t just be the odd window and door. Contracts for this are likely to be glazed extensions, bi-folding doors, and large house fulls of windows and doors. It’s highly unlikely a home owner is going to buy just for the study.
This type of clientele and contract will also mean a good margin is available for installers and therefore Prefix. Products like Opus have to be sold well, not sold cheap. A high-end product commands a higher price than the standard crop of window and door products out there.
Brilliant build quality
I have seen enough of Opus I feel to make a decent judgement on the actual product itself, and the build quality is up there.
If you’re going to market a product as “luxury” then everything about it has to match that. The quality of the hardwood and how the whole product is put together is very, very good. The aluminium external finish is good. The Smart aluminium product Prefix use is great, we have already experienced that on some other showsite upgrades. But it is the timber on the Opus product that really makes it stand out.
Opus feels incredibly solid in the hand. The casements shut like a German car door. Naturally there is some significant weight to it, given that it’s made from hardwood and aluminium. Even to lift the sample window, which you can see above, takes some effort. It’s this build quality, along with it’s external modern aesthetics and internal traditional looks which will help Opus gain traction in the market.
When it comes to finishes, the aluminium external side can come in any RAL that home owner requires, or can come in all the wood grains and textured finishes that Prefix provide via Smart. The timber, as stated above, can come in a light, medium or dark finish. Or can come untreated for the home owner to stain or paint as they wish.
As stats like U-Values, WERs etc become available I’ll update this post to reflect that. But given the high quality glass options available from Prefix via Clayton Glass, expect them to be impressive.
Opus is available in residential doors, windows, glazed extensions, bi-folding doors lantern roof and orangery systems. A comprehensive package. And it needs to be. A product like Opus does have to be made available across the product spectrum. Home owners will want a product they can run throughout their property. It means from an architects perspective they can specify one product across a new project, which makes their work easier.
The Opus is a composite window and door product as it should be. It is well known that early composite windows were plagued with quality and build issues. If what I have seen so far is the true finish, then this is a big step forward for the composite window.
There is definitely a market for a product like this. The aluminium and timber markets are on a big rebound at the moment, which has been consumer driven. Opus combines the best of both in a very good package. Build quality is high. Options are extensive. All product suites are covered. This is a composite window that ticks all the boxes on the surface.
We will be pushing Opus at our family business. We have the sort of demographic that would find Opus an exciting prospect. As soon as we complete a project with Opus I’ll be sure to post finished images and feedback on here.
It will be interesting to see how quickly Opus can gain market traction. There are already a number of luxury window and door systems out there. But this is easily the best composite window out there at the moment, and could eat into market share of already established premium brands.