Key considerations when building or renovating a home are to have it finished on time and within budget. Many home owners and renovators have felt the sting of building projects running over deadline, which increases costs and often results in domestic mayhem.
The Australian Window Association (AWA) has introduced a simple process that will help fast-track council approval by building surveyors and inspectors of your new or renovated home, in regards to the selection of windows and doors. Following this process will help ensure the job is completed quickly and efficiently.
One of the inherent issues in the Australian window industry is the use of non-compliant products, i.e. imported or local products that have not been tested by an independent third party to ensure structural integrity, durability, safety, security, etc.
Non compliant products do not have a guarantee, so you could be left with major long term problems if your builder installs windows that are not compliant.
The AWA seeks to protect the consumer and prevent the use of non-compliant products by introducing steps to make the selection process a lot easier.
Tracey Gramlick, AWA Technical Director, says "We know how many huge decisions home owners and renovators face throughout the entire construction process - tradespeople, products, materials, colours, finishes, brands, costs - the options seem endless.
"The AWA had this in mind when it created a system comprising a few simple steps, so homeowners can enjoy faster council approvals and have confidence in their decisions. They can rest easy knowing their windows and doors not only look good, but if specified correctly, are safe, secure, reduce sound and are energy efficient."
The first step is choosing a window manufacturer with a compliance certificate.
The Building Code of Australia requires all Australian window manufacturers comply with the structural and water penetration resistance provisions of Australian Standard AS2047 and be able to verify performance. So always ask to see a compliance certificate, as this is the first indication that a company's methods and products are going to be fit for purpose.
Building Surveyors and Council Certifiers require compliance verification so attaching a copy of the compliance certificate to your applications will expedite council approvals.
Issued by the AWA, the compliance certificate is awarded to members who take part in an annual inspection/audit program that is accredited by the independent National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).
Julian Wilson, NATA's Manager, Inspection, said, "NATA is Australia's national laboratory accreditation authority, we're endorsed by the Australian government and are the largest association of accredited laboratories in the world. Our Inspection accreditation group have been working with the AWA for 9 years on the accreditation program for the window industry. People can have confidence that AWA member products are built to a standard that can meet all five of the Australian Standards for the testing of windows and doors".
The compliance certificate guarantees your window manufacturer has met the requirements of the annual AWA Compliance Audit conducted by a NATA accredited auditor and is committed to the AWA Code of Conduct.
The certificate also means that you'll receive a 7 year warranty against faulty workmanship and materials.
Tracey recommends including a copy of the compliance certificate as part of the package when applying for council approvals. "By insisting that builders or window suppliers provide a copy of their AWA compliance certificate with your application, you can expedite the approval by ensuring that the windows in your home are safe and compliant as well as aesthetically pleasing."
Secondly, check for the performance label on the products you're using, usually located in the jamb of a window.
"This label is similar to the Heat Foundations' tick on food products, in that it gives consumers peace of mind by confirming that prototypes of products have passed NATA tests and are certified to comply with Australian Standards, and ensures a 7 year guarantee. Importantly the windows have the structural and water performance clearly identified," says Tracey.
The third consideration is the Windows Energy Rating Scheme (WERS).
WERS rates the energy impact of windows in housing anywhere in Australia and is much like the energy star rating of household appliances and whitegoods.
The window's cooling and heating performance is rated on a scale of zero to five stars. Just like your washing machine or fridge, the more stars the more energy efficient. These stars give you an indication of the effect the window will have on the energy performance of the whole house.
"Practically speaking, up to 40% of a home's energy for cooling (air conditioning) or heating can be lost or gained through windows," says Tracey.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, newly built homes that were approved by councils rose 3.3% in May 2006 , demonstrating how the great Aussie dream of owning your own home is still alive and strong despite rising interest rates and a slumping real estate market.
As a result, councils are inundated with applications for building approvals, which can make it more difficult for Aussie families to have their home built in their desired timeframe.
"There are local government areas around Australia that have a higher demand for building approvals in their neighbourhood. We believe that the AWA compliance certificate can have a positive impact on the approval process in these areas; both for councils and Aussie families" adds Tracey.
For further information on how to expedite council approvals through the AWA accreditation program, please visit www.awa.org.au
and download the AWA compliance brochure.
About the AWA:
The Australian Window Association (AWA) nationally represents over 360 manufacturers and suppliers to the window, door and skylight industries. AWA members are regularly audited as part of a national compliance program accredited by the independent National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). Members provide a minium seven year guarantee to all products and abide by an industry code of conduct to maintain the high standing of the Australian window industry.