High Rise Window Replacement – Getting it Right

Windows in high rise buildings are more open to the elements than windows used in low level houses or shops, so choosing the right options is key when considering high rise window replacement

High rise windows are more susceptible to extreme weather conditions; they are open to damage from birds and debris carried by gusts of wind and storms. And when deciding on high rise window replacement, it is important to choose the right company to carry out the work as it is a high risk and extremely specialist job. 

Windows that are used on high rise buildings or skyscrapers are very different to those used in other buildings. The glass has to be specially reinforced to be able to withstand high winds, but they are often used as walls by residents, so they have to be strong enough to tolerate people leaning against them or objects being leaned on them. Quite often windows in these types of buildings are made from two panes of 6mm glass with a 12mm air space in between the two panes. 

Windows may need replacing if they are letting in water, the seals have gone, the frames are warped or damaged, or perhaps the mechanisms to open and close them are damaged, or the locks are broken. It might be they are letting the cold in or the heat out. Or perhaps they are letting in too much noise from the streets below. This can all happen without proper regular maintenance or if the window and frames are old. Chips and cracks in the glass can get progressively worse over time, which doesn’t look good and can damage the integrity of the window. 

If you need to replace windows in your high rise apartment or office block, then here are some points to consider when you are choosing the glass, frame, the fixtures and the company to do the work. The costs could be between $3,000 and $10,000 for a residential window replacement, so it is important to do your research. 

If a full window replacement is needed, then the types of frames you choose is important. Vinyl frames are much cheaper than wood or fibreglass, but wood or fibreglass will last up to 50% longer, so it could be worth the investment if you can afford it.

Cranes might be needed to be able to access the windows as they are so high up and these cranes must have some sort of platform or suspended scaffold to allow the glass replacement specialists to safely position themselves and the new glass. Cranes will often be essential as some offices and apartment blocks have panes of glass that span the building.  

Or, if it is possible to change the glass from the inside, then the glass replacement specialists will use a special trailer with suction to transport the glass safely. This will only work with small panes that can fit inside an elevator. 

Glass replacement specialists who deal with high rise buildings must receive extensive training to be able to deal with the challenges of the job. It is important to check the credentials and training of the team you choose to carry out the window replacement for you. As well as being high rise, some buildings might be difficult to access to carry out the repairs and they will need to use suspension ropes and mechanisms to be able to carry out repairs or replacements. 

The team who are chosen to carry out the repairs must undertake a thorough risk assessment of the job, particularly if it is being carried out in a busy, public area. Roads may even need to be closed for work to be carried out, it just depends on the space available if crane is needed. 

Get a quote for the work, machinery and expertise needed for your work or you run the risk of costs spiralling out of control if specialist equipment is found to be needed. 

If it is a big job, then it will need to be planned out meticulously, so knowing the sorts of checks and procedures that need to be carried out is useful when you are choosing the team to work for you. 

  • Risk assessments must be detailed and specific to your building and surrounding areas 
  • Licenses for road closures must be obtained well in advance 
  • The timing of the work should be out of hours to minimise danger and disruption to members of the public 
  • Specially trained glazing trained rope access technicians must be used 
  • Challenge them on the use of more innovative approaches to limit the amount of large machinery, disruption and cost needed 
  •  The team must be trained in accordance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005 
  • Reputable companies will carry out a site survey so you can get a proper idea of what will be involved in the project 

Aluminum and steel windows do have a long life span, so it is often the components of the windows that need refurbishing or upgrading. It might be that your window only needs a refurbishment, rather than complete replacement. The glass might need upgrading, the insulation might need improving or it might be the frames need refurbishing to transform the look of the apartment or building. It might be that the tilt and turn mechanisms need upgrading or the handles need replacing. If your windows are older, look into whether there is a company who can access these parts so you don’t have to replace the whole window and increase the cost of the job massively. 

It might be that you want to install film to limit the breaking potential of the window, reduce glare from the sun coming into the offices or apartment windows. A film will also increase privacy and security. Amazingly, it can also give better security against bomb blasts. 

Make sure the company you are working with will tailor the job to your specific needs as almost every window replacement or refurbishment job will be different to another due to the variation in the types of windows, the problems that need fixing, the buildings they will be working on and the area they will be working in.