How to commission bespoke joinery?

publication date: May 14, 2015
author/source: Guest article from Merrin Joinery

Guest article from Merrin Joinery


When you’re improving your home, there’s almost always a need for items made of wood. When you can’t find what you want as a standard item, you’ll need to commission bespoke joinery. Typical examples include:-

  • windows or doors that aren’t standard sizes

  • wooden windows that must exactly match originals in a listed building

  • feature staircases

  • bespoke hardwood furniture

Merrin joinery

It might sound obvious, but the first thing to do is spend plenty of time deciding exactly what you would like your new windows, doors, staircases or furniture to be like. Sites like Pinterest are great for getting inspiration. An interior designer can be helpful too. For complex projects you may decide to use an architect or an architectural technician.

Read our How to Choose An Interior Designer Checklist

When searching on line for reputable companies, directories such as the Institute Of Carpenter’s Find A Carpenter service can be useful starting points. It is worth taking time to read companies’ websites to get a feel whether they are likely to be right for you and your needs.

Most people contact three or four potential suppliers initially. Remember to include details of what you are looking for, with photographs or drawings and approximate sizes. Let the company know where the property is located, and the best ways for them to contact you. As a very rough guide, bespoke joinery is likely to cost you upwards of £1000 per item, increasing with size and complexity.

Legitimate business don’t work “off the books” for cash, so you will need to pay the full rate of VAT unless you qualify for an exemption. 

Be aware that commissioning bespoke joinery can takes months. Reasons for this are discussed here.

If your property is listed (or in a conservation area) you will need to discuss your ideas with your local conservation officer. It is only in exceptional circumstances that double glazing will be allowed in a listed building. It is quite normal for it to take weeks or months to get listed building consent from your local council.

Once you have received some estimates, the following considerations may help you decide which company to use:

  • Ask if they are members of relevant trade organisations, such as the Institute of Carpenters 

  • A great way to find out what other people have said about a company on social media sites, is to put the company’s name into a search engine. The company may also have testimonials on their website.

  • Is the quality of their work what you’re looking for? Can they provide references or give you named examples of where they’ve done work? Can you visit the workshop to see examples of their work for yourself?

  • Check how long they’ve been in business and whether they have experience of working with a property like yours (eg new build, listed building, stone property with lime mortar) Are they familiar with the relevant regulations?

  • Will the joinery company carry out a site survey for you, to measure up and take a note of architectural details?

  • Do they offer an installation service? Does this include making-good?

  • If old windows are being removed, what are the arrangements for their disposal?

  • You should expect to be provided with a detailed written quotation before you place an order.

  • Compare the specifications

    • Type of timber recommended

    • Finish

    • Glazing type

    • Price (including VAT)

  • Ask your supplier for a realist estimate of when the work will be completed.

  • Ask your supplier about compliance with building regulations, CE certification (if installing external doors or windows) and CDM regulations (if they are installing the joinery)

  • Are they helpful? Do I like them?

Read our How to choose a carpenter Checklist

Most bespoke joinery companies will ask for a deposit payment, and it is normal for there to be interim payments with the final payment on completion

Once you’ve decided which company you’d like to work with, you’ll want to maintain a healthy working relationship with them, the same way you would with other professionals like your accountant or architect. As we all know, open communication and mutual respect are the key to achieving this.

If you love your home, there’s nothing like bespoke joinery for giving it that wow factor.


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