Looking good

Danny Hague
Danny Hague

Danny Hague, sales director of Victorian Sliders, argues that contrary to recent comments by Michael Gove, Britain’s new-builds are getting better – with modern yet authentic sash windows helping them blend with more historic surroundings.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – but returning Housing Minister, Michael Gove, clearly has strong opinions on the aesthetic merits of Britain’s newbuilds.

Too many new developments are ‘disappointing’, and ‘not in keeping with the high aesthetic standards of what already may exist’, he argued recently.

At an event hosted by the Centre for Policy Studies, Gove said that ‘people do not want ugliness imposed on them’.

The government would therefore use ‘all the powers we have’ to stop schemes that aren’t ‘aesthetically high quality’.

Is it the case that all UK newbuilds are ugly? No, of course it’s not. There are hundreds of high-quality developments underway around the country.

If anything, I’d argue the aesthetic quality of the average project has increased in recent years.

One of the defining characteristics of Britain’s housing stock is that, compared to the rest of Europe, it’s very old.

According to the Building Research Establishment, of the UK’s 27,800,000 dwellings, 5,800,000 date from pre-1919 – that’s about a fifth of the total.

There are also 4,284,000 UK properties still occupied today that were built between 1919 and 1944.

It’s true that there have been many UK housing developments that pay no attention to that heritage, and clash with the historic aesthetics of the surrounding area.

However, in my experience, we’re also seeing growing numbers of projects that have taken a very different approach.

They’ve designed their proposals with great care and attention, to ensure they complement their settings.

Over the last 10 years, interest in modern sash windows – that balance the classic looks with 21st-century performance – has soared, and at Victorian Sliders, our business has boomed.

With products like our own hugely popular EcoSlide window, installers can easily break into that highly lucrative market – showing homeowners how modern materials allow them to offer authentic aesthetics, along with easy maintenance and robust security.

However, the BRE’s findings are important for another reason, too. Their report proves that Britain has one of the oldest housing stocks in the world.

That’s hugely significant, because the older a building is, the less energy-efficient it is – and given that Britain has committed to reducing its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, improving the energy efficiency of the country’s oldest properties will be a major priority in the years ahead.

Researchers from German technology company, tado GmbH, studied the thermal efficiency of 80,000 houses across Europe, and found that British ones lose heat up to three times faster than those in other European countries.

They measured the drop in temperature in homes from several European nations over five hours, when it was 20°C inside, and 0°C outside.

The British homes tested lost an average of 3°C, while German homes lost 1°C, and Norwegian homes lost just 0.9°C.

In the years to come, that means there’s going to be a huge market for products that can do two things – provide a convenient and cost-effective way of bringing back classic sash window aesthetics to older homes, and offer exceptional thermal performance.

EcoSlide does both. It can be supplied with vintage features like run-through sash horns, and soon, a deep bottom rail – and it comes with A window energy ratings as standard, or A+ rated with Argon gas.

In other words, it’s the perfect product to drive growth and sales in your business in the months and years ahead.