Choosing windows for a self-build project. Interview with Internorm
Without a doubt, choosing glazing for your future home is one of the most crucial decisions you will make. To some extent, windows determine the houses’ two most important features: its appearance and energy efficiency. Whether you want to build a traditional or contemporary style house, there are a variety of window options to meet your preferences. If you want to build a robust energy-efficient house, you can get double or even triple glazed windows which offer your desired u-value level.
To help you understand current trends in window manufacturing and help you pick the best solution for your Self Build we interviewed Mark McLean, Technical Sales Manager from Internorm by Scotia, an award-winning company manufacturing the highest quality windows.
WHO ARE INTERNORM AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED?
Internorm were first started back in 1931 by Eduard Klinger, the founder of the company where he started manufacturing windows and doors, since then the company has grown substantially and now produces around 5,000 windows per day. Over 85 years on Internorm is still a family-owned company and has grown to be the biggest window brand in Europe.
Internorm Windows are designed, manufactured and shipped from Austria from our 3 manufacturing plants located in:
- Traun – PVC Production Plant
- Sarleinsbach – Headquarters, Specialist PVC Production & Glass Plant
- Lannach – Timber Alu Production site
Internorm are represented across the UK by a dealer network, we (Internorm By Scotia) are the only official and approved Internorm dealer in Scotland and cover the entire country and the North of England from our base in central Scotland.
YOU OFFER WINDOWS MADE OF THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MATERIAL – UPVC, UPVC-ALUMINIUM AND TIMBER-ALUMINIUM. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EACH OF THESE AND WHICH ONE IS CURRENTLY THE MOST POPULAR AMONG SELF-BUILDERS?
When it comes to the three window systems that we produce, each has its own advantages or limitations, most if not all of which, are aesthetic. There is a common misconception that Timber Aluminium Clad windows are more energy efficient, however, this is not the case. We can manufacture an all PVC window to have the same (or better) U Value as a Timber Aluminium Clad window system.
It is because of this that we have noticed a growing trend of people switching to UPVC Aluminium clad window systems, and it is by far the most popular window system that we sell, especially in Scotland. This due to the fact that being aluminium clad it allows the buyer to have bespoke colours externally, the longevity of aluminium cladding and a lower price point than Timber Aluminium clad with the same (or better) performance levels. It’s essentially the window in our range that gives the most “Bang for Buck”
Below is a brief summary of the three systems we produce, the U-Value that they can achieve, price point and benefits.
UPVC – UPVC
The cheapest product in our offering, offers U Value’s as low as 0.63 for the entire window, the restrictions on this window are design related in that the external of the window can only be produced in white.
Internally you can have a choice of white PVC, Foiled Wood Grain White PVC, Foiled Wood Grain Cream PVC, RAL 7016 Anthracite Grey Foiled PVC and Golden Oak Foiled PVC.
UPVC – Aluminium Clad
Our Mid-Tier Offering, this sits between PVC and Timber aluminium clad price point wise. The UPVC Aluminium Clad window systems can also achieve U Values as low as 0.63, but are completely customisable externally, available in any RAL colour, or a selection of bespoke metallic and textured Internorm specific colours.
This is our most popular system mainly due to the price point, aesthetic options externally and overall performance.
Timber – Aluminium Clad
Our top tier offering in terms of price point, our range of Timber Aluminium windows and doors is the most customisable in the Internorm range allowing the client to customise almost every aspect of the window in terms of internal Timber Type we offer:
- Timber Veneers
We can also produce a selection of bespoke veneers for the internal finish as well as any RAL colour, externally, the window can be produced in any RAL colour. Overall with U-Values again as low as 0.63, our timber aluminium range offers versatility, customisation and a truly bespoke design pallet.
YOUR PRODUCTS ARE GROUPED INTO FOUR DIFFERENT DESIGN STYLES TO HELP YOUR CLIENTS FIND SOMETHING THAT MATCHES THEIR PROJECT. CAN YOU DESCRIBE EACH STYLE?
Internorm offer 4 designs styles:
- Home Soft
- Home Pure
Again there is a misconception that these all come at different price points, the design styles of the windows only affect the aesthetic “look” of the window, for example, you could have one of our HF310 Timber Aluminium windows in home pure, install it next to a KF310 UPVC Aluminium Clad window, again, in home pure and externally it would look exactly the same.
The main advantage of this is that it allows designers and the buyer to mix and match window systems to naturally cost engineer the design, it also means that you can have UPVC Aluclad windows in bathrooms, kitchens and utility areas, which are notoriously prone to moisture and have timber Aluminium Clad elsewhere, externally though everything will look identical.
Here is a short description of each of our design styles as described in the brochure, and the buildings that they best suit.
Bright, light-flooded rooms create space. Straight-lined shapes and modern design emphasise the architecture.
This building style exudes harmony and cosiness, homely living comfort which radiates cosiness and support.
This architectural style is very puristic in its design. Clear shapes and minimal design are typical. The minimalistic living style is reduced to the basics.
Art nouveau, traditional, classic houses and elegant estates describe this architectural style. A composition of timeless classic and elegance.
INTERNORM CREATED AN INTERNAL RESEARCH DEPARTMENT THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DEVELOPING NEW PRODUCTS AND TECHNOLOGIES. AS A RESULT OF THIS, YOU HAVE CREATED VARIOUS REVOLUTIONARY INNOVATIONS UNDER THE TITLE OF I-TEC. CAN YOU DESCRIBE SOME OF THEM?
We offer a section of I-tec products within our range, I-tec is the name given to products that Internorm have designed and manufactured themselves, now, in 2019 we have 7 exclusive I-tec products.
With the new I-tec core, we are processing thin glued timber layers in the core of the timber-aluminium window HF 410 which is only commonly known from highly stable roof beams and supports.
- Glued timber layers ensure very good load bearing and allow larger sizes
- Considerably more humidity-resistant, more durable and extremely strong
- Match the colours of your timber-aluminium window HF 410 to your living areas due to colour and timber variety
- Narrow view widths for more light
I-tec locking renders levering of windows impossible. This patent is unrivalled in the window brand and is already integrated in UPVC or UPVC-aluminium window KF 500. Integrated flaps press on to the inside of the frame from all sides when locking and therefore offer maximum burglary protection.
- Security class RC2 already as standard
- Locking elements are almost completely integrated in the frame; this makes for easy cleaning
- Low viewing height of UPVC and UPVC-aluminium window KF 500 ensures more light
I-tec ventilation ensures comfortable and energy-efficient airing according to demands. The ventilation is already integrated in the window and can therefore easily be installed in refurbishments.
- Fresh air without great heat loss or draughts
- Fresh air without dust or mould
- Each room can be aired individually and according to demands
- Ventilation is already integrated in the window – no need of opening windows for airing and increased security
- Convenient operation via intelligent building control I-tec Smart Window
All Internorm window systems with integrated blinds can be equipped with I-tec shading. This sun protection without external power source works with photovoltaic module and batteries.
- Intelligent automatic mode facilitates automatic opening/closing of blinds through day/night recognition
- Measuring solar irradiation and temperature reduces overheating of rooms
- Several blinds, Venetian blinds or Duette blinds® can be controlled in combination
- There are no energy costs
- There is no extra installation or chiselling work required
- The shading is situated directly between the panes
I-tec SmartWindow, the intelligent building control, enables you to easily and conveniently operate your ventilation and shading via Smartphone or tablet, no matter if you are at home or on the way.
- Convenient control via free App
- Mobile control of I-tec ventilation, I-tec shading, sun protection and fanlight opener
- Opening control of your windows
- Individual adjustments, exactly according to your requirements and options
- Can be easily extended
Many window panes are only connected to the frame at a few points. As standard, we are offering I-tec glazing, continuous all-around fixing.
- Perfect stability
- Optimum thermal insulation and sound reduction
- Increased burglary protection
- Efficient functioning of the window
I-tec insulation is inserted with pressure as granulate into the inside of the frames of UPVC-aluminium window KF 410 and KV 440.
- Gapless filling of chambers due to granulate
- Increased thermal insulation
FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO MAXIMISE THEIR VIEWS, YOU OFFER LARGE-SCALE GLAZING SOLUTIONS. FOR MORE CHALLENGING BESPOKE SOLUTIONS, YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A MANUFACTURING CONCEPT STUDIO XL. COULD YOU EXPLAIN HOW THIS WORKS?
Studio XL is what we would class as our large format architectural glazing solutions, these systems can be created to almost any dimension with only design limitation being the weight of the product, which is currently capped at 600kg, which is an extremely big unit of glass. This allows the client to maximise views, glass area and limit the amount of visible frame.
Our studio XL systems are available in our sliding door ranges (KS430 and HS330) as well as on some of our fixed glazing systems such as the HX300 Panorama. These are great products that can add real impact and “wow” factor to new build projects, extensions and renovations, and as with all our products, we have achieved U-Values of between 0.63 and 0.76, which, Meets the Passivhaus Standard.
YOU OFFER YOUR POTENTIAL CLIENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE WINDOWS USING AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY. THIS ALLOWS THEM TO SEE YOUR PRODUCTS FROM EVERY PERSPECTIVE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW THIS TECHNOLOGY WORKS AND HOW YOUR POTENTIAL CLIENTS CAN BENEFIT FROM IT?
Augmented Reality or AR is becoming a great tool to assist us as designers in presenting our products to the end user.
The system itself although very complex is simple to use, users can download the Internorm AR app from the app store, once downloaded they can simply hover their smartphone or iPad over the picture in the brochure, this then creates a virtual section of the window, the clients can look at cross sections of the window, change the colour, handle type and profile of the window.
It’s a great tool, and again something that sets us apart from other products on the market, it essentially allows users to view the product in detail, whilst in the comfort of their home. You can see a video explaining how the system works here.
YOU HAVE CREATED THE INTERNORM CUSTOMER CARE PROGRAM TO ENSURE THAT YOUR PRODUCTS ARE INSTALLED AND SERVICED WITH THE HIGHEST QUALITY IN MIND. HOW DOES THIS PROGRAM ENSURE THAT SELF-BUILDERS’ EXPECTATIONS ARE MET?
We, as designers and installers of Internorm firmly believe that the windows are only as good as the hole that it is being installed into, we take this part of the process very seriously, after all what is the point in buying one of the most technically advanced and energy efficient products on the market if they are installed poorly.
In almost all cases we insist that our windows are installed by an authorised dealer, this to ensure that all tolerances and design requirements have been met.
Internorm By Scotia offer as a minimum service level, Pre, During and Post technical support to assist with detailing and sizing, we then offer two installation packages:
This allows for 2 of our trained installers to work alongside the contractor on site, training them on how to install the product properly and assisting with the installation to ensure that the product has been installed to our standards.
This is the most comprehensive package we offer, we take responsibility of detailing, design tolerances and then fully manage and install the product on site whether it be with lifting equipment, labour etc. We also take full responsibility for the airtightness element of the Windows and doors also.
As an Internorm Gold Partner, our installations are randomly checked throughout the year by Internorm, and customers are contacted at random by head office to complete a customer satisfaction survey.
By doing this Internorm ensure that their products are being handled in the correct manner and customers are being looked after, failure to meet the quality care standard set out by Internorm can result in a Dealer’s right to display and install the product being revoked.
We always advise clients on doing their research on a dealer and product, look at trading history, pictures and would encourage them to speak with some of our existing clients and inspect the product in situ.
HOW DOES THE PRICE OF YOUR PRODUCTS COMPARE TO THE OTHER WINDOW-MANUFACTURING COMPANIES?
This is always a difficult question to answer, as the product can only be compared to something of the similar quality, specification and performance, with backed up Independent test certificates, there are very few manufacturers on the market that meet these criteria when compared to Internorm.
That said, our Timber Aluminium product would most likely be around 10-20% more expensive than the likes of Velfac, Rational or Nordan’s timber window systems. However, if you compare our UPVC Aluminium clad product with the same we would normally expect to be around the same price, in some cases cheaper.
COULD YOU EXPLAIN YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? AT WHAT STAGE OF A PROJECT SHOULD A SELF-BUILDER CONTACT YOU REGARDING THE INSTALLATION OF THEIR WINDOWS?
In short, as early as possible.
Planning stage if possible…….
Too often clients come to us once planning and warrant have been approved, and in some cases, the windows are almost impossible to design because they are either too big or in some cases too small.
By talking to and involving a preferred supplier from the start we can advise on what is possible and what is not, we can assist with cost engineering and offer guidance and support to designer and client alike about how to achieve their end goal.
More importantly, it allows the architect and client to build relationships with the window supplier, who, inevitably will be supplying the second most expensive part of their build next to the fabric.
Trust, reliability and confidence are paramount in our eyes when it comes to selecting your window supplier and installer.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR SELF-BUILDERS WHO WANT TO ACHIEVE A SEAMLESS WINDOWS INSTALLATION?
With all things, preparation is key, so it all starts at the initial design stage. The window should be designed into the fabric of the building and not approached as an afterthought.
In-house we have 2 architectural technicians who specialise in advising on the best way to integrate the window into the fabric of the building, get this part right and the installation is usually the easiest part.
When it comes to the installation itself, it’s important that the supplier understands the site conditions, its location and any logistical issues that may be encountered getting the windows to the openings. Both contractor and installer need to know what one another expect, a pre-site meeting, inspection and plan are all essential if the window installation is to go without a hitch.
There is nothing worse than turning up to install the windows and realising that the windows will not fit due to the openings not being formed correctly, or that openings cannot be accessed due to scaffolding being erected in front of them…..these are the common issues that arise. Plan properly, be patient and think ahead, if you adopt these principals the window installation will go ahead without any issues.
YOUR PRODUCT IS ONE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE ON THE MARKET, WHY IS THIS AND WHY SHOULD A CUSTOMER CHOOSE YOUR WINDOWS OVER A CHEAPER VERSION?
Innovation, Quality, Service, pre, during and post-installation Support and product Longevity are the attributes that define the price point of any product. When it comes to Internorm these are much more prominent, it is these values that we found our whole business model on.
However, it’s easy for me to say “we sell the best fenestration product available on the market”. We would invite any prospective clients to see, feel and touch the product in our showroom as well as speak to our existing clients for a greater overview of what we do and how we do it.
CAN YOU DISCUSS SOME OF THE ADD-ONS THAT CAN BE SPECIFIED FOR INTERNORM PRODUCTS?
As we stated previously when we were discussing the i-tec range of innovations there are lots of add-ons available for the Internorm range of products.
Some of the more popular optional extras are:
Bio-metric Fingerprint scanners – Scan your finger across our integrated e-key pad on our entrance doors instead of having to use keys. Set up and create different profiles for different people and store over 99 fingerprints.
This is great for communal access doors, but also when, for example, you have a cleaner. If you have a cleaner visit your property on a Wednesday and Thursday, you no longer have to issue a set of keys, quite simply scan his/her finger and assign that this fingerprint will open the door on a Wednesday and Thursday. Fingerprint scanners are becoming more and more cost efficient and integrate a really useful piece of technology.
Key Pad Entry – Again these are great for communal entrance doors, and the situation above, but they also work well for one-time access codes. For example, if you work away from home and you require the services of a builder of a tradesman, you no longer have to take the day off, simply generate a onetime access code for the that tradesperson and they can access the property (once) using the code which the door will automatically be sent the code to them via text message.
Electric Openers – Great for use on big sliding doors that can be heavy. As we mentioned we can create doors with a weight of up to 600kg, in some cases the sliding part of the sash can be over 3m in length and 2.8m in height. Whilst these are very useable, they are heavier than standard doors. This can become a problem if the doors are used frequently by small children or the frail, disabled or elderly. By simply pushing a button integrated into the door will open automatically and very smoothly, with no lifting, moving or walking required.
Blinds – We can offer a range of blinds either mounted between the frame or between the glass, these can be mains powered, solar powered or manually driven and are available in a choice of fabrics or Venetian styles.
In Built MVHR – When building Air Tight Homes or Passivhaus properties ventilation becomes a much more important factor to consider, before, a separate MVHR unit (Centralised or de-centralised) would have to be considered, using our patented I-tec ventilation system we can now offer MVHR as part of the Internorm frame.
YOUR WINDOWS CAN BE CONNECTED TO HOME AUTOMATION SYSTEMS, WHICH SYSTEMS AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Home automation is becoming increasingly popular in Self Build or bespoke homes, Smart home technology develops year on year and further integrates different parts of the home and allows them to work in harmony, Internorm windows are fully invested.
We use Luxone for our Smart Home integration and recently had a full working display in our showroom (Alloa), demonstrating how windows, lights, electronics and your general quality of life and living environment can be improved by incorporating smart home technology within your build.
Think about it:
It’s a warm sunny day and your sitting in your new sunroom in your house that’s fully fitted with smart home technology.
The temperature in the room rises above 20 degrees, so your sliding door automatically opens to allow for ventilation, 25 minutes later it starts to rain so the door automatically closes over until its only ajar, stopping the rain coming in BUT still allowing fresh air to cool the room, 5 minutes later the sun comes out, BUT it’s still raining so the blinds close to reduce solar gain.
It’s a winters night, you arrive home from work and walk up to your new Internorm front door which is installed in a house that’s fully kitted out with smart home technology, you scan your fingerprint on the door, the outside lights come on, your hallway lights turn on in the house and your favourite TV show comes on the TV OR music plays through your sound system.
These are just a couple of scenarios that demonstrate how smart home integration and Internorm windows can integrate.
DO YOU OFFER AN INSTALLATION SERVICE?
Our installation services are fully tailored to the Client, Building and contractors requirements, we can provide clients with as much or as little support as required. However, we stand by what we said earlier, that is we would always advise on full installation or installation support as a minimum. We will only deliver windows on a supply only basis if the contractor has been fully trained and certified in Internorm Installations.
WHAT SORT OF AFTERCARE DO YOU OFFER?
Our products are assured for 35 years, this means that for 35 years we will ensure that we can service, maintain or replace your windows either like for like or with a similar alternative. Aftercare service is something that we pride ourselves on at Internorm By Scotia. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, we encourage people who have an issue with their window to pick up the phone and give us a call.
We have fully trained and employed fitters and service engineers throughout the country that will be able to tend to servicing issues. There are though, generally, very few issues.