When did you last challenge your assumptions?

Assumptions can be tremendously helpful. They eliminate the stress of worrying about every outcome. They allow us to work to predictable patterns. They shortcut the time it takes us to make decisions and give us a platform on which to base our opinions. When our assumptions are sound – based on logic, facts and experience – they work well for us. When they’re based on supposition, half-truths and unreliable feedback, they can hold us back.

I’m in the window and door fabrication business. Our operation works principally with two materials: aluminium and PVC-U. Both of those materials have perceptions attached to them. Many buyers assume aluminium always comes with a high price tag, but it’s not necessarily true. Similarly, many purists would think it inappropriate to use PVC-U glazing in a heritage property. The assumptions of both groups could lead them to make the wrong decisions.

Blind spots and cursory glances

Good decision making relies on good information. When we think we know something we often make mistakes, restrict our choices and end up with a compromise. Forgive me if I illustrate the point with the distrust of ‘foreign foods’ that was common a few decades ago. People literally decided they didn’t like something before they even entered restaurants. Garlic was shocking, sushi unfathomable, but a few brave souls were willing to try the new flavours before they cast judgement. It’s taken time, but by challenging assumptions and trying something new, the way we eat has been utterly transformed.

When we have blind spots in our thinking, be they about raw fish or window frame materials, we’ll hold ourselves back unless we challenge ourselves to take another look.  It’s crucial that we take more than a cursory glance. We need to put our judgement on hold and keep an open mind while we test and investigate something new.

When tradition meets innovation

In our business, we’re launching a new range of windows and doors. They are PVC-U and suitable for all sorts of projects, but they are ideal for older, traditional properties. The range uses Deceuninck’s Heritage Flush suite and replicates the appearance of a timber frame.  With every detail thought through, from traditionally styled handles and stays to the proportions of transoms and mullions, these windows and doors are a superb, affordable alternative. The aesthetics are spot on, finishes have been carefully selected, and frames can be fabricated with mechanical joints rather than welds. These windows and doors are ideal for refurbishment projects, entirely suitable for use in conservation areas and come with a raft of other benefits including exceptional insulation, high security and weatherproofing. They’re also low-maintenance and fully recyclable.

Sadly, if you put the blinkers on before you even look at these windows and doors – if you rule them out because you assume all PVC-U windows look the same – you don’t just miss out on a brilliant product. You may end up paying more for timber frames that need constant maintenance. You may delay replacing old timber frames and live in a leaking, draughty property that’s a nightmare to keep warm.

We all make assumptions based on our past experiences. I’m not claiming to be any different, but I know enough about the glazing industry to recognise that it’s a place of constant change and innovation. Yes, a few years ago, PVC-U windows would have looked like a sore thumb in a heritage property, but systems have evolved.  Some, like Deceuninck’s award-winning system, combine the best modern techniques alongside authentic period styling. It might be counterintuitive but the very latest in window design makes perfect sense in an older property.

If you’re still not convinced, I would suggest you challenge your assumptions. You might decide to stick with what you know, but you’ll be making your decision armed with more knowledge, and where’s the harm in that?