Mansard translucent roof structures market: A 6 year throwback

Mansard translucent roof structures market: A 6 year throwback
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The market of these products has greatly decreased during the crisis, and customers are taking price into account. Economy-class models are mainly in demand.

Urban mansards have already ceased to be just attics under the roof, where poor artists live. Now mansards in elite capital housing developments are called by their western name — penthouses.

Of course, they differ greatly from mansards in old houses. However, both have the status of apartments and it is impossible to get official registration in them. Their cost is rather high: from 5,000 to 30,000 dollars a square meter. And people buying them are mainly attracted by the beautiful views they can see from their windows or other translucent structures used in mansards.

Bipolar market
“Currently two companies occupy the dominating position in the Russian market of mansard windows,” says the founder of one of the core businesses Igor Charukhidis. “They have European roots, in Denmark and Poland. They have local production on Russian territory, and their plants are located in Rostov Veliky (Yaroslav region) and in Vologda.”
“Another two countries widely presented in our market are Germany and Belgium,” continues the businessman. “But their production is imported, and has significantly decreased lately for known reasons, and its price has grown. The companies that deal with mansard and attic glazing as a rule set ready-made windows. It’s hard to count all them, in all regions of the country. Only in the Central region are there several dozens of them.”

A 6 year throwback
As we were told by experts, the market has seriously lost ground at present, and now customers are looking at prices more. The reconstruction volumes and the number of buildups in cottage settlements have greatly decreased. Mainly customers order economy-class models.
Incidentally, often the decision on the mansard windows model choice is taken by the construction organization erecting the building. And it is important that specialists advise customers how to choose the windows structure. Contractors are not very much interested in comfort or heat conservation; they’d rather think about completing the house’s construction and getting their money sooner.
The Russian market volumes assessments for such kinds of products differ significantly. Experts speak about 120,000-180,000 windows a year, and it is only for new-built houses and constructions. To compare: in 2009 the volumes were 100,000-150,000 thousand: thus, we have got 6 years back. In Europe the numbers are much higher: only in Germany are 1 million units a year are needed, and more than 90% are for the replacement of old mansard windows.

Such different tasks
In Russia, mansard structure installation started development together with mass cottage construction. And now there are far more orders for glazing mansards in private suburban housing (that is in cottages), than in the city. Later such windows were used in multi-storied houses both in new developments and in old houses with mansards overtopping.
There are a lot of mansard window models on the inner market today, both economy-class and expensive. What do consumers act on? The approaches are quite different. For some of them it is the use of under-roof space, for others it is additional light and design, for still others – just a prestige factor.
The cheapest glazing variant, offered at the market now, are the mansard windows structures which use polycarbonate or acrylic sheets instead of double glass panes. They are used for roof hatches and dormer windows, which were primarily not for lighting but for ventilation and smoke removal. Such ready-made structures cost 7,000-8,000 rubles. But they are too small for lighting.

More light, not less
“The light amount coming from a dormer window is three times as less than that amount from a mansard window,” says Marina Prozorovskaya, a window- producing company engineer. “As far as the area of glazing for mansard floors is concerned, there are strict requirements for the glazed area: it correlates with the area of the mansard itself. The minimal rate for a living mansard is 10:1. That is for every 10 square meters there must be 1 square meter of glazing. The maximum area of glazing is not limited. Everything depends on the taste of the customer, and on what he can afford.”
As to the norms, the lower part of the window must not be higher than 0.9 m from the floor level, and the upper part – at the level of 2 meters. It is connected with the comfort of exploitation and maintenance of the window itself.
It should be noted, that the construction of mansard windows differs from those of common vertical windows due to their location – on the roof, the slope of which may vary from 15 to 90%.

Looking for a decent lining set.
“When installing mansard windows it’s very important to pay attention to encapsulation and hermetic sealing,” remarks Marina Prozorovskaya. “The lining set, connecting the window and the roof, is quite the thing for that. Lining sets divert rain water.”
Besides, all mansard windows must be equipped with swing-out mechanisms. Usually hinged systems allow a 180 degree swing of the window. Mansard windows with different mechanical operations are available in the market: with upper, central, biased and combined rotating hinge pins. Everything depends on the customer’s wish. They may also buy both one- or two-chamber glass.
Another requirement which is always observed by serious producers refers to safety. External glass must be heat-strengthened and the inner one must be a multilayer glass sandwich.

Where are you, good roofers?
To buy a mansard or dormer window is not a problem: there is a big variety of choices in the market. What is more important today is a good adviser and of course, professional installation. And here some problems arise.
“Often there are no specialists in the regions who know all the details of the structure and how to mount it on the roof,” Igor Charukhidis shares. “The profession of a roofer has almost disappeared. Very often come-and-go people deal with window mounting. And so there is a lack of quality, and customers are not satisfied.”

Is there any use heating outdoors?
“If the larger part of the roof is made transparent it refers not so much to mansard but to façade glazing, though it will be installed in a mansard floor,” explains Dr. Rafik Alekperov, head of the laboratory Translucent structures and Façade Systems of Moscow State University of Civil Engineering.
According to him, there is a regulation for translucent roof structures for calculating thermal resistance. The all-Union state standard is harmonized with European norms and regulations.
“Do not forget, that any mansard structure has lower thermal rate than the roof, it is at most 0.8 W/(?•K),” continues Dr. Rafik Alekperov. “So, in winter you heat the outdoors through your mansard windows.”

Do not take risks
Currently the market offers different variants of mansard glazing. These may be mansard windows, aluminum blind windows, or flat skylights of various forms and structures. Everybody chooses what they need.
It should be noted that mansard windows are now leaders in glazing. Their structures are constantly being up-graded using energy efficient technologies and automation. The installation of readymade windows must taken very seriously and done by specialists.