Cutting edge of clarity

There’s something comforting about the news that Clayton Glass has launched Smartglass Dynamic, which is an automatically self-tinting glass for conservatories, orangeries and other glazing elements.

First of all, it is reassuring that glass can be at the cutting edge of design and technology as homeowners and architects turn to the material to offer a modern focus to the home, rather than simply a run-of-the-mill home improvement item.

We already know that glass can be incredibly advanced – just read the stories from Pilkington UK and Saint-Gobain Glass. But this active element to Clayton Glass’s offering is a good advert for the power of glass within the home as an aspirational item.

However, the really interesting aspect of this story is the association with conservatory roofs. If you were to believe the reports, the average glass conservatory is losing ground to lightweight solid roof extensions. To me, this implies that homeowners desire a glass-roofed conservatory above anything else, and it is the poor thermal performance that turns them away. With Smartglass Dynamic, could we see a resurgence in conservatories?

Finally, how do we feel about Brave or foolhardy? The basic premise of the website is the publication of prices, which undermines the basic sales structure that much of what the industry was based on – more so in some quarters than others.

Quoting for windows does require an element of precise measurement, and there are many variables regarding hardware and glass etc. However, if the site gains traction (and I’ve met many firms that have a simple pricing structure that isn’t adjusted by seasonal sales, so it would suit them perfectly) will more firms be forced to change how they quote for windows?

A friend of mine told me how he invited a well-known bathroom company to quote for work on a flat he had in London. The salesman’s starting figure was £120,000 (yes, a 12 followed by four zeros). Without much effort, he managed to knock him down to £8,000, then turned him away anyway. You can see how, from a homeowner’s point of view, a comparison website would be very attractive.