Next in May came the windows. It is fair to say we have invested heavily in these and they are a significant portion of our budget. It's been a long process to get this far but we are extremely happy with the windows and found a great Internorm supplier from Millau to be a very helpful man (who also speaks English which I didn't know when we first sought his help).
To be fair we'd gone a few full circles with these windows with 2 other suppliers. One in Herault and then a UK supplier who were prepared to install in France at a cost of course. The issue with the Herault supplier was that they bundled the fitting and window cost together and couldn't (or wouldn't?) separate the cost of the options. Each time we asked how much an option would add or take off the cost they had to do a full requote which was frustrating both for us and for them. This wasn't the case with the UK or Millau supplier, they were able to quote themselves and tell us immediately the extra cost or reduction involved with each variant in specification and they separated fitting cost from the supply. We only needed the variant on one example window to determine if it was feasible or not, we didn't want to go through the pain of a whole requote. The final straw which pushed us to look at the UK was when the herault supplier tried to push us into signing the last version of the quote. I'd had enough and almost given up on the brand.
Why make life so hard and not just find another manufacturer? Well we could have done but we'd seen these windows in Ecobuild London and have carried out a lot of research on passive house and low energy renovations across europe using these windows. We liked the specification and we liked the quality of the product. So we were prepared to look further afield for the supplier. The UK supplier was great and we actually managed to achieve a specification we were happy with and could afford. The main issues were firstly that they would need to send a team of fitters from the UK at our expense and the TVA/VAT situation is different between UK and France on renovations so in the period of us enquiring VAT on windows for renovations in France actually came down to 5.5% making a significant reduction on the supply costs. Another aspect is that our sale proceeds from our previous house are in euros and the exchange rate is of course going against the euro making sterling more expensive so this ruled out using the UK supplier. But armed with a specification we were more or less happy with, we decided to try one more sort of supplier a bit further away, I was relieved when he said he would indeed be interested to come and have a look.
Immediately I felt at ease, no sales pressure, sensible suggestions for getting the best price/quality compromise. We ordered the windows in February, a huge weight off my mind and they were delivered in May.
The south side - firstly the big terrace doors were fitted:
next the doors which will lead to the garden:
As these are all South facing - we are using Brise Soleil Orientables to control the temperature - these will eventually move automatically with the sun & retract with strong winds (essential for our area)
It may appear a little dark but that’s exactly what we need to keep the sun off the glazing in the Summer, especially as the glazing has a SOLAR+ plus finish so we get free additional heating thanks to the glazing! If you are interested in more info Solar +
That's not only why these triple glazed passive house windows are special to us, its also the ability to have pre-finished wood on the inside and alu on the outside so they are almost maintenance free for years to come.
The install took place over two week - the first week focused on the large doors on the South side, next week it's all the rest of the windows and doors...with a few more surprises.