While Jack Brunsdon customers talk in glowing terms about the quality of the company’s wooden windows, the excellent customer service and the ease of installation, Richard and Juliet Bothams are able to provide another, longer-term perspective.
Some of the replacement windows in their 250-year-old cottage in Alton, Hampshire, have been in place for more than 15 years – and they are looking as good today as they did when they were installed.
Richard says: “After all that time, the windows are perfect. In all honesty, we just don’t think about them. On the northern side of the house I wipe them down perhaps two or three times a year, but that’s it.
“The durability is fantastic and the fact that they are virtually maintenance-free is wonderful. My days of re-painting windows are gone. If you put these windows in you just don’t have to worry about them.
“We also have a house that is warmer, quieter and more secure because every window has a lock. Juliet starts from an aesthetic standpoint: the windows have to look good and be in keeping with the cottage. Jack Brunsdon understood the building and was able to offer windows that looked the part.
“We struggled to find companies that could do that. But we didn’t want the cheapest; we wanted the very best windows with customer service to match.
“The installation process, too, was amazing. You don’t know they’ve been here, they are nice people and they have the right attitude. They come on the day they say they are going to come, they get everything done to schedule and there is the minimum of mess. They leave the house exactly as they found it. It was amazing how clean it all was, even though this wasn’t an easy installation in some ways.”
The couple have lived in the house since 1995. Dating back to around 1780, it is a once partitioned property to which they have added a dining room, an extension to form a new front door and entrance hallway and, at the rear, an elegant conservatory.
Richard, a retired director of human resources, says: “The house has evolved over the years, but we turned the whole cottage around because the tradesmen’s entrance was the front door and you would come in to the kitchen. We’ve turned it around by making the front door on the right-hand side and guests now don’t come in to the kitchen and don’t have to go through what we call the ‘head-banging’ part of the house.
“We wanted a window product that was in keeping with the house, design and style being key to us even though it is not a listed cottage.”
The windows were installed in a number of stages. First, a window was replaced in 1995, when the couple converted an existing garage extension into a dining room now used as a study. Then, in 2008, every external window was replaced.
Nine flush casement windows were installed in phase one, all with black monkey tail ironmongery and finished in a natural off-white. In phase two, another three windows were installed. The large conservatory features a total of nine windows and French doors leading to a landscaped garden.
Richard says: “We thought we would do a major piece of work to ostensibly replace the outside windows, one of which is now an internal window. We also added a new window where we knocked through. The thinking was that the existing windows were peeling and needed regular maintenance. The individual painting of windows wasn’t fun.
“We have south winds coming up this way and hitting the carport side of the house, but if you get the north winds they hit the front and we were feeling that – although we have low ceilings and it is a warm, cosy cottage we were getting some draughts.
“They were, though, original wooden windows and my wife – for whom aesthetic matters are very important – did some research and found Oxford Double Glazing, which later became Jack Brunsdon & Son. They were in Oxford, but it was worth it because they could offer a good double-glazed wood product that looked wonderful and wouldn’t really need maintenance.
“The insulation effect of the double-glazing was excellent. It’s a quiet village but we definitely hear the traffic less. The cottage is called Windy Wold and is at the highest point for five miles and the wind whips around here and you certainly hear it and feel it. But not now.
“Then there was a third stage in 2011. That was when we created the entrance hallway and added on the conservatory. We also raised the roof and added a window on what was the garage and is now the study.
“This stage involved all the conservatory windows and another five windows. The planning regulations had also changed, so we had to have an escape window upstairs in which the whole window opens. Jack Brunsdon were able to supply one that looks like it has a strut in the middle, and so is in keeping with the rest, but actually provided full access.
“With the conservatory we were thinking about what we could do to enhance the cottage. It was driven by the fact that we like entertaining and how best we could organise the house. After lots of discussion we realised we could turn the whole house round and have access to the garden, which is wonderful.
“One thing I hadn’t appreciated about the windows in the conservatory is that they allow the heat of the sun to enter the glass, but that it is then trapped inside. The glass attracts and pulls in the sun, then stops it going back out. It means that warmth in the winter comes in but doesn’t go out quickly. The conservatory is never too hot or too cold and it is lovely the way the light is pulled in.
“The customer service was fantastic. The communication with customers is excellent. They thought carefully about the aesthetics of what we wanted and they offer a good looking product.”