Everything You Should Know About Roof Windows. Interview with Fakro
When designing your dream home, it’s vitally important to ensure that it will be aesthetically appealing, without compromise to energy efficiency and functionality. One of the most important elements to consider when developing living or working spaces is the amount and quality of natural light.
It does not only serve as a heat source, but natural light also generates a warm, welcoming atmosphere within your spaces. In some instances, conventional ‘vertical’ windows may not be sufficient and therefore roof windows are the perfect solution to maximise the light throughout the top floors of a building.
To find out more about roof windows, we interviewed Stewart Mackenzie, National Specification Manager of the leading roof window manufacturing company, FAKRO.
WHO ARE FAKRO AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED?
FAKRO are a roof window manufacturing company with headquarters located at Nowy Sacz, Poland that manufactures for the global market. The company has over 3,500 employees spread across the globe. The UK office is in Swadlincote, Derbyshire and consists of a team of Specification Managers, Business Development Managers and a Technical team offering backup for our clients in Britain.
WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER?
In the UK FAKRO offer roof windows, roof flashings and associated products. We also offer flat roof windows, smooth roof windows etc. and all the associated products that go with roof windows themselves. We categorise products into centre pivot, top hung, high pivot, flat roof windows and balcony windows so they meet the lifestyle and design requirements of our customers for their developments.
WHAT MAKES FAKRO DIFFERENT TO OTHER ROOF WINDOWS COMPANIES?
First of all, FAKRO uses redwood timber opposed to soft pine. This delivers a close grain finish and improved longevity to the timber and therefore the windows.
We also offer the topSafe security system which enhances security of the windows. We place our handles at the bottom of the window with two micro opening positions. The window can be opened and left in the micro-opening position without compromise on security.
Another unique feature you can find in our roof windows is the semi-automatic trickle vent located within the top header section of the window, not in the sash itself. With a semi-automatic vent system, glazing area is increased too, subsequently delivering greater solar gain. We also have condensation drains both in the sash and the frame. Condensation always goes to the coldest part of a room, which is normally the glass. With FAKRO roof windows condensation is channelled efficiently and discreetly removed to the outside of the window harmlessly into the flashing kit. The vertical L-shaped window comes with a tilt and turn option that can be used as a means of escape, and the wide range of sizes we offer are not matched by our main competitors.
Non-vented windows that meet mechanical ventilation heat recovery system regulations can be also be offered. According to these regulations, when a high level of airtightness is required and an MVHR system is installed you should not have any background ventilation.
WHAT ROOF LIGHT COLOURS OPTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
The standard colours FAKRO offer are pine, white acrylic and white polyurethane. We can also offer over 200 colours from the RAL classic palette both internally and externally.
Many self-builders specify that their roof windows match the colours of their existing or new vertical windows. For example, a lot of vertical windows, casement windows, patio doors, and bi-fold doors come in standard RAL-7016 internally and externally. Roof windows traditionally come in a different RAL colour externally and pine or white internally.
YOU OFFER PASSIVE HOUSE CERTIFIED ROOF WINDOWS. HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE THIS STANDARD?
We can achieve Passive House standard by producing thicker and wider sashes and frames. This solution stops cold bridging from outside to inside. We also install five seals opposed to the standard four and we also offer a thermal flashing as standard. The quadruple glazing unit is given a U-value of 0.58 and these windows are non-vented to comply with MVHR regulations.
HOW DO FAKRO’S ROOF WINDOWS PERFORM IN TERMS OF THERMAL EFFICIENCY AND HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO YOUR COMPETITORS?
Our double glazing units are similar to that of competitors with a U-value of – 1.3 W/m2 k. On triple-glazed windows offer a U-value of 0.97 W/m2 k. There is also an upgraded triple-glazed solution that can deliver an installed U-value 0.8 W/m2 k. The best solution FAKRO offer is quadruple glazing, which with a U-value of 0.58 W/m2 k is the best single sealed window on the marketplace.
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE HIGH LEVELS OF AIRTIGHTNESS WITH YOUR WINDOWS?
FAKRO offer a range of accessories such as an XDP insulation collar and an XTS airtight barrier for installation with our windows. This basically plugs the gap between the window and the frame, stopping any cold air ingress between the window and the kit itself.
YOU OFFER MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF ROOF WINDOWS SUCH AS DUAL FUNCTION TOP HUNG AND PIVOT WINDOW, THE PRESELECT, CENTRE PIVOT WINDOWS, Z-WAVE CONTROLLED OPTIONS, ARC WINDOWS, AND BALCONY WINDOWS. WHAT PRODUCTS ARE THE MOST POPULAR AMONG SELF-BUILDERS?
Yes, we offer many types of roof window from centre pivot to top hung and more. Conventional centre pivot and preSelect dual function windows are standard within the construction industry with centre pivot being the most commonly specified.
However L-shaped windows and Z-Wave electric operated windows are becoming ever more popular – the L-shaped windows is a solution where you a vertical window meets a pitched roof window and the Z-Wave windows are remote controlled meaning they can be incorporated into a ‘home hub’ system, giving home owners control from their mobile devices. Z-Wave solutions are becoming ever more popular among self-builders.
FAKRO ROOF WINDOWS HAVE TWO REMARKABLE FEATURES: AUTOMATIC AIR INLET AND TOPSAFE SYSTEM. COULD YOU DESCRIBE THESE?
The V40P Air Inlet system controls air pressure so even when a trickle vent is open and the wind increases outside, the vent either closes or its aperture is reduced.
This gives rooms a healthier micro-climate as less cool air is being allowed from outside to inside. In other words, the vent is never either fully open or closed. From the header section outside wind is blow up against the trickle vent, because the window is at an angle on the roof, closing or reducing the aperture – whereas a standard trickle vent would just let air through when opened.
TopSafe is an additional hinge and locking reinforcement system that prevents the sash from being forced from the outside. Traditionally roof windows have their handle at the top of the sash and to open all that is required is to pull – so if you are outside and you push the window could open. With our handle being at the bottom of the window and locked into its ‘keep’ they’re supported by a metal reinforcement behind which stops the window being pivoted or forced from the outside.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THE ORDER PROCESS AND HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FROM ORDER TO SITE DELIVERY?
Standard windows are available as stock items from our centrally located warehouse in South Derbyshire. These take 2-3 working days from order to site delivery. Bespoke windows are on a lead-time of 15-20 working days from receipt of a signed bespoke form.
For anything bespoke, the builder should be talking to us roughly 6 weeks in advance. We would like to think that when a build is at foundation stage builders would begin discussions with us, because we can advise both on technical and design choices, but also on stock and delivery schedules, helping to keep projects running smoothly and on time.
We have a lot of projects that we have completed with ACA in certain RAL colours which were ordered and ready to go perfectly in time for installation. Even in bespoke sizes or non-opening windows (our competitors do not offer non-opening window due to their handle doubling as a vent). FAKRO offer fixed closed windows with no ironmongery whatsoever.
DO YOU OFFER A FITTING SERVICE, CAN ANYONE FIT FAKRO PRODUCTS OR DO YOU HAVE PREFERRED FITTERS?
We don’t offer a fitting service, we are a supply only company. Any adequate roofer/joiner or builder can install our products. We provide a set of simple fitting instructions with the windows. Plus for immediate support onsite we provide fitting instruction videos that are mobile friendly from our busy YouTube channel. And of course, we have a dedicated Technical and Service Team who are always on hand to assist.
WHAT GUARANTEES DO YOU OFFER?
Roof windows come with a 10-year manufacturers warranty, and the glazing unit has a 20-year warranty. We also offer a lifetime warranty against damage by hailstones on the glazing unit (some parts of the UK occasionally suffer very large hailstones, sometimes the size of golf balls!).
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES THAT SELF BUILDERS MAKE?
There are various errors that Self Builders can make when ordering roof windows for their projects. The most common being:
1. Self-builders sometimes do not understand if the windows have to be in a combination, sitting side-to-side, so they order the correct size of windows but not the correct combination flashings.
2. Sometimes self-builders will get a standard centre pivot window where they may need to be top hung for a means to escape.
3. Sometimes self-builders do not understand the details on thermal efficiency and order triple glazed vertical windows and double glazed roof windows.
4. A big common mistake is that self-builders go online and look at an online-only company to “get it cheaper”, but they are not getting the same quality product, they just see the branded product.
5. Self-builders can misunderstand a project scope. For example, a house may have an MVHR system installed and a double-glazed vented window is purchased, whereas they may need a triple-glazed non-vented window.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR SELF BUILDERS WHO ARE LOOKING FOR ROOF LIGHT WINDOWS?
- Talk to people – if you are building a highly energy-efficient house do not buy from a catalogue or online only trader with no experience or support, talk to the experts.
- If you want an energy-efficient home, you may need a heat recovery system so you should not install windows with trickle vents.
- Think about the lifestyle you’re building. Are your roof windows going to be used as a means of escape? If so, you should be able to open these up sufficiently to get out safely. Do you want an unobscured view? If so, instead of choosing centre pivot, choose top-hung (preSelect is a perfect solution here).
- Always speak to an Architect, they will give all the advice possible and know where to seek professional guidance.