Thursday 18 April 2019 – The latest news and updates from the Chalcots Estate
Your replacement windows
- We have been working on developing the design of your window for many months. As you now know, after considerable research and professional advice from technical experts and our contractor, the council decided that the tilt and turn inward window is the safest window option that also gives you the choice and control to be comfortable in your home.
- Our design team (the council working with technical experts and our contractor Wates) found through the recent design process that for your safety, any window that opens more than 10cm needs to have a lowered windowsill. You will still have a windowsill that is of a similar depth to your current windowsill and you will still be able to store things on it but it will be lower, at 20cm above the floor.
- We know you are keen to find out what your new windows will look like in your home but we are still at the design stage. When we discussed the lowered windowsill with the Chalcots Works Group your TRA reps made it clear that they were not happy with the lowered windowsill and do not support this decision. Whilst at this stage we don’t have another option but to lower the windowsill, because of the reaction of your representatives we have asked the design team to look again at all the options.
- The design team are now looking at all available options for your windowsill and radiators – for example we have asked Wates to see if it is possible for radiators to go underneath your windowsill without compromising safety. Early in May we will be holding an event so you can meet with members of our design team and technical experts to ask any questions you may have. We hope to have a full sized working model of your windows and any possible windowsill and radiator options for you to look at. We will let you know the date of the event in the coming weeks.
- We don’t know all the answers yet we will keep you updated as the designs develop. We’ve responded to some of the questions we’ve had from your TRA reps and other residents over the last few days on the back of this newsletter. We hope this is helpful.
Build your career in construction with Wates
- If you are 19 years old or over, unemployed and looking for a career in construction or to gain a qualification, you can apply to take part in Wates’ two-week Building Futures programme due to start on Monday 13 May.
- Wates are offering Chalcots residents an exciting opportunity to gain a BTEC Level 1 certificate in construction through their Building Futures apprenticeship programme.
- On the course you will learn carpentry skills, visit live construction sites and try out multi-trade taster sessions.
- There are 18 places available so if you’re interested in applying please contact the course trainer Darren Bradwell on 07773 585 571 or email email@example.com by Friday 3 May.
Concrete tests onsite
- To prepare for the upcoming works, Wates need to test the materials in your block including the concrete. These tests are important to ensure we fully understand the structure of your building.
- To test the concrete, Wates will need to drill into the main walls of the blocks from the inside and outside, which could be noisy and cause vibrations to carry in your home.
- They will not need access to your home for these tests, as they will be carried out in communal areas and void flats. The tests will take place between 9am and 4pm during the following weeks:
- Blashford: completed this week
- Burnham w/c 22 April
- Bray w/c 13 May
- Taplow w/c 20 May
- Dorney w/c 28 May
- Please also note that abseilers will be on site during these works to carry out some of the tests.
The Chalcots Works Group is held at the estate with TRA reps, councillors and council officers in attendance and is chaired by a TRA rep. They meet regularly to discuss works matters on the estate. This newsletter includes feedback from the Chalcots Works Group on Wednesday 10 April. The next meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday 24 April. You can request a copy of this newsletter in large print, audio format or in another language by calling 020 7974 5717. If you have questions about this newsletter please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Your replacement windows: frequently asked questions
Is this window safer than my current window?
Yes. We chose the tilt and turn inwards window based on advice from technical experts and safety officers who told us this was the safest window option for your estate. All of the window options were marked against 10 essential criteria including safety for people inside and safety for people outside – the tilt and turn inwards window performed better than your current window (push outwards) for both of these criteria.
As you know a number of the current windows have failed or fallen out – one as recently as March – which is dangerous for people coming or going from the block. An inwards opening window like the one we have chosen will not carry this risk. If the push outwards window was chosen, it would be limited to opening to 30cm which would not let enough air into your flat to prevent overheating. We would also need to lower the windowsill.
We found through a more detailed design phase with our technical experts and Wates that the windowsill would need to be lowered for any window that opens more than 10cm to make them safe enough for people inside the flats. Your safety is our first priority so we are progressing with a tilt and turn inwards window with a lowered windowsill.
What is the benefit of the lowered windowsill?
The proposed lowered windowsill is safer. It puts a bigger distance between the nearest ledge and where the window opens – a distance of 1.1 metres. This means that even if a child is standing on the windowsill they will still be much lower than the window opening, reducing the risk of accidents.
The building regulations for windows states that there must be 80cm between a window opening and the nearest ledge. With a lowered windowsill there is a distance of 1.1 metres between the sill and the window opening which is more than the minimum requirement for windows – this is the minimum height required to ensure safety for a balcony. We have been clear from the start of this
process that we are setting a gold standard of safety at the Chalcots and the lowered windowsill will ensure the highest standard of safety for you and your family.
Why didn’t you tell us about the lowered windowsill at the windows engagement events?
We didn’t know about it at the engagement events. We told you at the events that once a contractor was on board we would work with them on design details of the windows and since Wates joined our design team in January we have been working with them and our technical experts to design a window to the highest standards of safety.
This thorough design work has taken time, and needed lots of versions of detailed drawings which have each had to be checked and assessed by us, Wates and technical experts. Through this joint design work we found that the best and safest option for the Chalcots is a tilt and turn inwards window, with a lowered windowsill to put a greater distance between the nearest ledge and the window opening.
We told the Chalcots Works Group about this option on Wednesday 27 March. Your TRA reps did not like this option and asked us to provide more detail, so we showed them a mock up of the window with the lowered windowsill on 11 April. The Chalcots Works Group don’t support the decision to lower the windowsill but we have always been clear that safety is our first priority and that the council would be choosing the safest option for your estate. Listening to the feedback of your representatives, we have agreed to see if there are any alternative options that are as safe as the lowered windowsill.
Will I have a lowered windowsill in every room?
No. The current proposal is that you will have a lowered windowsill in your living room and bedroom, and depending on where the cabinets are in your kitchen, maybe your kitchen as well. In your bathroom your windowsill will be similar to how it is now and won’t be lowered – look at the leaflet we sent you last week for more detail.
What is going to happen to my radiator? Will moving it make my rooms smaller?
We know that if your radiator is underneath a windowsill that needs to be lowered, it will have to move or change, but we don’t know exactly what that will look like yet. We have asked Wates to look at radiator design options and to see if it is possible to fit them under the windowsill. We don’t know the answer to this yet but we hope to be able to talk to you about it at our May engagement event. Wates will be meeting with you in your homes to find out how you currently use your windowsill and the space around it to try and find options that work for you in your flat.
Will the panel above the windowsill be glazed?
We don’t know yet but any change in the glazing will need to be approved by the planning department. We can discuss this with you at our event in May.
Where can I put my plants?
You can still put your plants and store other items on your windowsill. You will still have a windowsill of about the same size but it will be lower, at 20cm above the floor. When Wates visit you in your home they will talk to you about storage – if you’re worried about losing your windowsill as a storage space, one option might be for Wates to put up a shelf in your flat.
Does the law require you to lower the windowsill?
The law doesn’t require us to lower the windowsill but there are building regulations about windows letting enough air into homes to prevent overheating.
You told us at the windows engagement that the most important thing to you about your windows was letting in fresh air. This helped us to choose the tilt and turn inwards window, which is the only window option that lets in enough fresh air to meet current building regulations. Option 1 (your current windows) do not meet current building regulations around letting in fresh air, and we would still need to lower the windowsill if option 1 was chosen.
The council is committed to the safest option for our residents. You told us at the engagement events that you were concerned about the safety of the tilt and turn windows. We listened to you and once Wates came on board we worked with them to find how to reduce the risk of accidents and the solution the design team found was to lower the windowsill to put a greater distance between the window opening and the nearest ledge.
Will the lowered windowsill and moving the radiator result in heat loss or higher energy bills?
No. The new window design will meet all current regulations relating to glazing to both prevent overheating and to keep you warm. There should be no impact on your heating costs and the improved energy efficiency might even reduce your bills.