Door Specification – LABM
Published: 8th June 2007
Tim Roome, general manager of leading composite door manufacturer Permadoor, offers advice on practical considerations when selecting a door supplier.
Selecting accredited and compliant products from a myriad of suppliers, all offering different support packages and services, as well as ensuring a residents’ right to privacy is being upheld, is now a significant challenge. Problems may arise as early as the tendering process. Every property is different, and factors such as irregular floor levels, types of fitted internal floor coverings, external render, plaster lines, nature of existing door sets, specific residents needs, types of brickwork, locality of the property and date of construction all demand different solutions.
With so many variables, and the need to comply with appropriate building regulations, writing a specification has become very complex. Many local authorities have used suppliers’ expertise and experience in writing the final specification documents to avoid costly problems later on. Common areas for concern in trying to meet specifications include the requirement for the door to use a threshold of no more than a 15mm in order to comply with Part M requirements of the Building Regulations, whilst also being asked to achieve weather ratings that are difficult to achieve with a low-line threshold. The supplier is frequently therefore only able to satisfy one criterion, but not both.
Although Part M requirements specifically relate to newly-built properties, clients understandably will wish to have existing dwellings made compliant if possible and this is an area where the knowledge and experience of the supplier can be useful in finding the best option available, based on the specific physical and human factors relating to that property. Issues also occur during the surveying process. When undertaking a property survey it is critical to gain access, for without it assumptions will have to be made based upon a ‘standard’ property that may bear little resemblance to its neighbour when fitting the door.
Surveying should not be viewed as a case of simply taking measurements. It requires a deep knowledge of property types, building materials and the ability to carry out risk assessments to highlight where a fire door or gas vent may be required. As such, using experienced trained surveyors avoids costly and disruptive problems during the scheme of work. Some suppliers also provide their own surveying services but whichever approach is adopted an accurate survey helps enormously when manufacturing an individual door to suit the application.
Occasionally, it may be necessary to use a special product like an extra-wide door, double door or electronically operated / automated door. While such products can be sourced individually from specialist manufacturers (with added expense and long lead times), it often pays to ask potential suppliers whether they can supply specialist products. Some companies will be able to source specialist products from partners, but this will almost certainly mean disruption to a schedule of work. Some may manufacture specialist products themselves. The latter is the preferable option as it gives the Local Authority the same quality and aesthetic of the installed door and also the same technical back-up and guarantee as the ‘standard’ door.
The long term benefits of working closely with a supplier to develop and manufacture a specific solution can also have immeasurable positive impact for tenants with specific needs. Tough targets have been set to make savings across the public sector under the Gershon Review, which places stronger emphasis on best value from a financial perspective, thus lifetime costs and sustainability, not just initial cost, become paramount. For example, some timber doors may seem attractively priced initially, but the costs of ongoing repair and maintenance, including repainting every few years, hugely increase the lifetime cost. Add to this the disruption such maintenance routines will cause to tenants and the issue of impact on quality of life arises. Through-coloured composite products require no such cosmetic maintenance and even deep gouges or knocks can be simply repaired.
For mechanical problems related to the functionality of the door, most products are covered by guarantees, but guarantees vary widely and a guarantee of a door set which does not include the frame and all factory fitted hardware is of very little value. Planning and delivering the scheme in an accurate and timely fashion should be amongst the suppliers main priorities and a prospective client would do well to assess how the manufacturer intends to provide accurate delivery schedules and other information, all of which will be essential in managing the scheme effectively. Such things may seem peripheral in specifying a door, but they are the elements that have the power to make all the difference.￩ Back to News Page