What Do I Need To Agree With My Customer When They Are Asking For “Bespoke” Joinery?

22 January 2014

When discussing a project with a potential customer it is important that each party understands clearly what has been requested and what is to be supplied.  This is particularly important if the discussions are for bespoke joinery as even the term bespoke can have different meanings to different people.

If the customer discusses matching existing joinery it is important to be clear whether they literally mean an exact (or very close) copy, or whether they are considering new joinery that resembles the original. If the customer wishes to have an exact copy of the originals, then the issues of compliance with the Building Regulations will need to be considered. It will be most likely that the glass units will need to be upgraded to meet the requirements for thermal performance or maybe safety glass will need to be provided, where previously it was not.

If your company has a standard set of profiles then there will still be opportunities for the customer to specify particular details such as the overall size of the new joinery or the arrangement of transoms and mullions, and whether openings in the frame will be fitted with casements or sashes, and whether these will be opening or fixed.

It is useful to be able to show a customer sections of the new joinery as, perhaps in order to accommodate modern glass units or hardware, the sections might needed to be increased above the sizes of the original windows and sight lines may have increased. It is also important to agree with the customer whether glazing bars are to be traditional or simulated. Traditionally formed bars may again need to be formed from heavier sections in order to accommodate the glass units. Other details that will need to be confirmed with the customer will include how bays and sills will be formed. If the customer has requested custom profiles, it is important to agree the new profiles and again these need to be conveyed to the customer. The particular details of the joinery can be presented by drawings, photographs or standard pieces which can be retained in the workshop or sent to the customer for approval. If a customer is invited to look at samples of work in your workshop it is important to differentiate between work which is to illustrate the quality of the joinery being provided or whether the samples are examples of the actual style or design of joinery.

While discussions are taking place with the customer to agree the final package to be supplied, it is imperative to keep written records of the dialogue and to confirm everything in writing.  If, for example, the customer requests a change to previous agreements by telephone, what they have asked must be acknowledged with a written reply. If the changes are made after the order has been placed it may be necessary to create a new order and to clearly state whether, for example, delivery dates will need to be changed.

The final documentation that will form the contract with the customer should clearly describe what is being supplied. The way this is presented should be clear and unambiguous and if there are any other aspects that have been discussed with the customer, these need to be reflected in the final offer. There may be further issues which it is crucial to clarify, such as addressing what to do if your customer wants a natural finish to their windows.

Here you can also see details of the information you should be providing customers with on a quotation.

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