Replacement windows and doors instead of our old
double-glazed wooden windows and scuri
Fitting plastic double glazing need not be just a pane or
Double glazing is much less popular here than it is in the
UK. This is probably a mixture of the nonsensical idea that it doesn't get
cold here (we recorded -12C in our garden this winter) and also the Italian
general attitude towards spending money - they would far rather spend hours
in the freezing cold collecting 'free' firewood than spending money to keep
the heat they do have in the house.
Our house had wooden double glazing units fitted when we bought it but they
quality and with the awkward internal wooden shutters called 'scuri' which
bruise your shoulder every time you walk past them. They were also
draughty and we needed to boost the insulation on what can be a very cold
house. The double glazing had been installed about 5 or more years earlier
and the house had stood open to the elements all this time. As a result,
virtually each window and door needed painting and repairing and we have 25
windows in the house!
We asked a local handyman to do the painting - we'd used him before and he'd
done a reasonable job. Unfortunately the tape he used to mask off the glass
was worse than useless and wrecked each window proving absolutely impossible
to remove with any solvent or amount of effort. I'd already taken a
disliking to the dark green colour we were stuck with, the scuri that had
bruised me for the last time and the general non-user-friendliness of the
With surprising difficulty (given what it is like in the UK), we found a
plastic or PVC double glazing company. We were given a quote which I thought
wasn't too bad and my wife reluctantly (because of the cost and the fact
that everyone else was saying how wonderful the existing windows were)
agreed. We were quoted several months for fabrication - nothing moves at
much above snail's pace!
Eventually the day came and the double glazing company arrived with its
manager and a couple of operatives. We'd already had some problems working
out the height to set the floor at to accommodate the patio door and hadn't
been too impressed with their level of knowledge. Anyway, we were looking
forward to the psychological 'rush' of seeing a major change to our house.
Within a few minutes of starting, the manager announced that he hadn't
allowed enough money for removing the old windows - apparently it was taking
longer to get the glass out than he had expected. Given that he had had
every opportunity to assess this on his visits to our house for measuring
and surveying, I was less than impressed and loudly advised him of his
chances of getting another penny out of us over and above that which he had
quoted. This was not a good start.
After that it seemed to go well until we got to the front door which took
ages - a definite clue that all was not well. It was later to show its
colours as it refused to shut properly, opened at random and vibrated when
it was closed.
The other problem was that the manager of the double glazing company had
miscounted the number of windows and had got the size of the glass mixed up
(we eventually got these two spare windows free with a view to using them
one day on an out-house or garage).
It was clear that the operatives had been told to finish the job as quickly
as possible and they tried to leave without doing the silicone sealant on
both sides of the windows (apparently that causes damp!!!) and without
fitting the plastic vents. We also had 5 windows without handles for a
while. We had to argue the case for the sealant and insist they come back to
fit the handles etc. On top of that, they had to make two more visits to
sort out the front door with constant wrangling over why we should accept
Funnily enough, we both think that the double glazing company was surprised
when we gave them a partial payment. I don't agree with refusing to pay a
supplier anything unless either the goods are all and completely worthless
or where they are rendered effectively 100% worthless by the absence or
failure of one part. This also gives you more support should it get messy
and go to court. The supplier has to show why what you paid was insufficient
as opposed to the much easier establishing that you owe something when you
haven't paid anything.
Anyway, as soon as we gave them this instalment, their senior engineer came
out and fixed an extra steel bar onto our door which certainly feels more
That just leaves us to sort out the lock mechanism. Unfortunately in Italy
as soon as you close the door behind you (on exiting), it locks. If you have
left the key inside then you have problems because you cannot go in to get
it nor will a spare key go into the door from the outside while there is a
key in the lock on the inside!
That said, each PVC window is well-made and there is a generous air-gap
between the glass which improves insulation. One door still requires
registration and the patio door is a bit of a pain in the way it opens but
that is just the Italian way.
Despite this I am still a supported of plastic double glazing!
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