Improving Joinery Skills and Confidence – As seen in Timber Construction

We sat down with Owen Dare of OT Dare Consultants and a founder partner of The Joinery Network, to talk about how The Joinery Network is working to boost joinery skills and Building Regulation compliance.

What is the background to the formation and vision of the Joinery Network?

Last year, after considerable planning, a group of like-minded companies launched The Joinery Network with the vision of helping joinery companies to make and sell certified windows and doors.

We knew that joinery businesses needed access to fully tested, accredited timber window and door systems to comply with Building Regulations and compete in the new build market. We also knew that the costs were prohibitive. A joinery company testing their products independently can spend upwards of £50,000 – more than many could justify.

The Joinery Network has already invested more than £60,000 in the design and testing of timber windows and doors to create a fully tested and certified suite of products for joiners to manufacture – Lignum.

Can you say a bit more about the investment in testing for PAS 24:2016 and Approved Document Q for security, Part M for accessibility and BS 6375: 1 for weathertightness and thermal performance?

It’s mandatory for windows and doors fitted into new homes in England and Wales to be Document Q compliant. PAS 24 for security and BS 6375: 1 weather testing are the current standards for Document Q. From talking to joinery manufacturers, we found that they were often given confused information from suppliers and their ability to manufacture fully legal products was limited, so they were missing out on this profitable market.

Creating Lignum, the fully tested Document Q compliant suite of products, tackles this issue head on. It means joinery companies can manufacture the certified products for new build by choosing the relevant product licences from The Joinery Network. It also gives specifiers the confidence to choose local businesses offering products within the scheme.

What is the Lignum window system and how is it different to others on the market?

Lignum is the first complete UK timber window and door system with full PAS 24:2016 certification and Document Q for security, Part M for accessibility and BS 6375: 1 for weathertightness and thermal performance, available to any joinery manufacturer looking for easy access to comply with Building Regulations.

Filling the gap in the market, the extensive Lignum range means joinery companies can choose each product against each test result, so both big and small joiners can offer a full or selective range.

How has the first 18 months in operation progressed?

The number of joiners adding Lignum to their product range is growing well. So far, the range includes vertical sliding box sash windows, top & side swing flush casement and storm-proof windows, along with in & out opening single & double doors, French doors and bifold doors – and there are others in the pipeline.

What does the co-operative bring to the timber windows & doors sector in ‘expertise & practical support’?

As well as providing fully certified timber products, The Joinery Network works to provide joinery manufacturers with skills, tools and practical support for their business.

Our founder partners offer their expertise to arm joiners with the practical support they need to confidently meet Building Regulations and sell more timber windows and doors. This isn’t just hands-on training – we also offer business support including marketing, tax credits and finance.

Joiners can benefit from Leitz CNC machinery training, to Document Q ready hardware from DJH & BJ Waller, while Close Brothers and Fiscale can help with comprehensive advice on asset finance and R&D tax credits. Joinery software specialists CalWin offer IT audits and advice, and Balls2 Marketing host marketing sessions.

We also have an affiliate scheme, where joiners can get support from companies like Centor, Illbruck, James Latham, MBM, Teknos and Winkhaus.

How are you educating the market on boosting joinery skills and Building Regulation compliance?

Education is vital, which is why we offer initial training to ensure standards are being met. I personally visit each licence holder when they sign up for a one-on-one training and consultancy session.

We host open events where we share the latest developments on manufacturing for Building Regulations, demonstrate machinery, tooling and software, and host an expert marketplace and networking session.

We’re hosting webinars and the first one focused on finance advice to help cashflow in these unprecedented times. Future sessions will cover topics such as tooling, software, marketing and sustainability.

The Joinery Network Hub is our Facebook group where we pool together our shared resources and knowledge to support joiners’ growth.

We’re also working with leading certification body Certass to create a Competent Person Scheme, designed specifically for timber installers to skill up and get tested.

The spotlight on timber use is usually on the structural aspects of a building. How important is the joinery sector to the overall drive for sustainability and 2050 net zero targets?

Last year, the government shifted the goalposts of our greenhouse gas emissions target, which was previously an 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

With net zero goals all over the headlines, concerns about climate change are causing consumers to make more ethical buying choices. We want to help joiners make the most of the desire for sustainable home improvements and support the 2050 net zero targets.

There’s always been an interest for real timber windows. However, most homeowners could only get their hands on timber-replica PVCu windows that were suitably accredited. A lot of materials used in the mass PVCu window market are unsustainable, whereas timber is the natural fit for windows. The lack of supply for good quality, certified windows in UK designs stifled growth for the timber market, until now.

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