Steve Mines, National Sales Director Sliders UK explains why sustained but slower growth in the housing market is good news for installers.
According to the latest data from the Finance & Leasing Association, so-called ‘second charge mortgage lending’ is galloping ahead and has leapt to its highest level since 2008. During the year to 29 February, £887m of second mortgages were taken out by homeowners.
That’s 36 per cent up on the year to February 2015, and more than three times the £293m of second mortgages in 2011-12. So why are homeowners borrowing more and what does it mean for the UK window industry?
“There are a number of factors that have come together”, says Steve Mines, Sales Director, Sliders UK. “House prices are going up, there isn’t a huge amount of movement in the market because we haven’t built enough new homes.
“At the same time and despite concerns about the ‘Brexit’ consumer confidence is high. Those people who either can’t find their next home or afford the ‘leap’ to it because of house price inflation are tapping in to the equity that that delivers to fund home improvements.
“In addition to this there are a generation of products that are coming to the end of their lifetime and collectively, this alongside the trends highlighted, are generating some real areas of opportunity.”
This view is consistent with the forecasts of market analysts. According to market research by D&G, more than 1.8 million PVC-U patio doors have been made and fitted in the UK since 1980. The authors of the Window Industry Market Research Report, add “additionally there are many produced in aluminium that could be ready for replacement as the economy recovers”.
The replacement of early generation PVC-U conservatories, which frequently used PVC-U patios as both entrance doors but also room dividers, extends the reach of the potential market for second time replacement inline sliding patio doors and bi-folding doors still further.
Mines continues: “Bi-folding doors clearly have masses of end user appeal. I don’t want to overplay the whole ‘Grand Designs-effect’ but if Channel 4 have done one thing for the window and door industry, its putting the bi-fold door on the homeowner’s radar.
“And that’s something, which we see reflected in our sales. We’ve seen a tremendous growth in our core aluminium bi-fold door offer but also new generation PVC-U systems, for example the Ultimate Aspect bifold door and the Veka Imagine.”
But while aluminium and PVC-U systems are seeing significant growth, Mines argues that this has not been to the exclusion of inline sliding systems.
Available in up to six panel combinations, Sliders UK’s three chamber Ultimate Aluminium Inline Sliding Door is manufactured in the ALUK system. Configurable to a multiple combination of fixed lights and sliding doors, on single, double or triple tracks, the door specialist also offers an easy to use straight slide or ‘lift and slide’ specification.
“Slimmer and sleeker sightlines, plus significant innovations in security, coupled with the highest levels of thermal efficiency and low maintenance, mean that a new generation of PVC-U patio doors is generating end user appeal”, argues Mines.
The Kömmerling PremiLine PRO, which was launched by Sliders UK in January this year, sits firmly within this camp.
It’s USP is a PAS24:2012 and Secured by Design accredited high security locking mechanism operated through patented interlock shootbolt system. This means that in addition to strong aesthetics it gives Sliders UK customers extended reach – as a Part Q but also Part M – accredited door.
The Kömmerling PremiLine PRO is offered by Sliders UK in 2, 3 or 4 panel openings. High quality stainless steel tracks guarantee the maximum possible service life and smooth running, while the clean sightlines of the 70mm outer frame are further enhanced through a wide choice of colours and low sightline black or grey gaskets.
According to D&G total patio door sales of patio doors as a whole grew by an estimated seven per cent to 55,000 in 2014, with further growth predicted last year.
Still enjoying sustained appeal in new build, as a space saving but also comparatively low-cost product, Mines suggest the deficit in the building of new homes should also provide an additional stream of growth through to 2018.
“Even before the new build housing sector fell off a cliff in 2008, the rate of construction of new homes was falling far behind the Government’s own target to build 240,000 new homes per year at an average of 100,000”, says Mines.
“Things are picking up but there’s still a long way to go before we catch up on demand as a nation for new homes. Until we do movement in the housing market is going to be more modest.
“At a time with low mortgage finance and high equity, plus the the majority of the 1.8million early PVC-U doors fitted since 1980 still in use, the second time replacement market that has potential to deliver exceptional growth.”
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