Yet more lessons from the past:

It's the fundamentals wot count

We're all human, and even clever people can get things spectacularly wrong.  I saw this early in my apprenticeship at BSA Group Research and on a number of occasions over the decades, such as this, in the 1980s...

Fairmitre had added my patio door to their range, and at their request I had had it tested at the Schlegel test-house, where it had passed with flying colours using a very simple but effective draught-seal from 3M Corp in the USA.

Fairmitre had been approached by Warwick University and asked to provide windows and doors Free Of Charge for two experimental Low-Energy homes the university was having built in Coventry.  As the two in-line sliding patio doors they wanted carried the Fairmitre brand, I saw little benefit in it for me and insisted on being paid to supply them.

Some months later, I received an anguished phone call from Fairmitre's MD telling me that the doors had failed the on-site pressure test, and demanding that I get there post-haste and resolve the problem.

I discovered that these clever people had decided to leak-test the house by increasing the internal pressure. However, the draught seals were V-seals, designed to stop air coming in on the high-pressure upwind side, but to let air bleed gently  out on the low-pressure downwind side.  It's a perfect way to ensure proper ventilation without draughts. Of course, simply pumping up the internal pressure guaranteed failure, the air leaking straight out with nothing to stop it.

When I arrived I found these intellectual geniuses had both patio doors laid out flat on the dirt of the building site and were busy fitting someone else's draught excluder.

I was ever so pleased that I hadn't supplied them free of charge, and suggested to Fairmitre that they should send them a bill, as they had used the free doors for their own purposes and impugned our reputation in the process.

Not the last time I came across this sort of nonsense from supposedly clever people.

There's more...
Around the same time, when double-glazing was still a growth business, a very clever company announced in the trade press that they had had their house tested to show that there was less than one complete change of air in six days. They appeared to have forgotten - if they ever knew - that people breathe-in oxygen and breathe-out carbon dioxide and water.  After six days with no change of air, would the family still be alive? Even if they were (by some miracle) the walls would be streaming with condensation, and the mildew would be having a great time.

And even more in the same vein....

More "expertise" from Coventry University

Some years ago Coventry University wrote a report on slim-line double-glazing used in "conservation" projects.  I take the view that "conservation" means just that,  and that if you want to improve the performance of the building - reduce the energy consumption by the users - then by all means do so without damaging the fabric, but recognise that this is IMPROVEMENT, not CONSERVATION.

If improvement means damaging the existing structure, then it's NOT conservation.

If you can remove and replace the old with new without changing the appearance and without having damaged the original work, is that not more fitting for the appellation of CONSERVATION?   That's what SupaSash does.

For me, hacking the original sashes about, to take so-called slim units is NOT conservation.

Beware the so-called 'tradesman'

I had a very pleasant well-heeled client in deepest rural Warwickshire, renovating a lovely old village house.  I was asked to replace the existing clapped-out old 1940's flush doors with hand-finished polished oak plank doors to match the new oak staircase I'd made for him.  Fitted into the existing painted softwood linings, he chose solid brass butts as a suitable hinge for them.  I was using a sub-contract installer for the oak stairs we'd made, and engaged him to hang the doors while he was there, giving him strict instructions to use - WITHOUT FAIL - the tallow-fat I left him as a lubricant for the brass screws.

This very nice job eventually came to an end, and the obviously happy client brought me more business through recommendations. 

Sadly, there was a sting in the tail...

A year or so later, the client asked me to call and look at a door that appeared to have 'come loose'.
Sure enough, the brass hinge was wobbling on the oak door.     Hmm! Very unusual.

I took a screwdriver to it, expecting a quarter-turn to do the job. Sadly, as soon as I touched it, the screw-head came off.   Even more sadly, EVERY screw of EVERY door was in the same state. That so-called 'professional' - now long-gone - even if he had pilot-drilled the oak (which I doubt) had simply not bothered to dip each screw in the tallow as instructed, and the threads had seized in the oak before they were quite home. His final quarter-turn had cracked every screw, and they were ALL failing. They were well and truly seized and, without heads, impossible to remove.

How would YOU, dear Reader, deal with it?  I thought of taking out a contract on that fake 'tradesman' and having him shot.

Of course, I did no such thing, merely spending a happy day sorting it out at my expense to preserve my reputation.

Professionals?  Huh! Maybe.

Now, dear Reader, how WOULD you have fixed it, quickly and easily?  Mail me with your contact details and I'll tell you the simple answer.
Fair exchange is no robbery.

As ever, the signs were there earlier...

This clever 'professional' gave a good first impression by carrying a very large tub filled with boxes of screws of many types and sizes. However, it very quickly became clear that he had never before fitted a staircase.  If you've ever done one, you soon learn that you must ALWAYS start with the top flight, working downwards. If you do it the other way round - as he had done - the top flight is impossible to fit.  Starting at the top means that you should only use temporary fixings until the bottom flight is in. The weight of the whole thing will probably cause it all to settle. Only once it's all in and lined-up tightly do you fix it permanently.

Updated Nov 2018