Our front door is not the one that came with the house either when it was first built back in 1947 or the one that was there when we bought the house in 1969. Come to think of it, it was still the original door when we bought the house. We had it changed for a smart hardwood door which has nine small glass panes in the upper half. Those small panes are actually pains when it comes to giving the door another coat of stain, with the wooden beading requiring very careful painting if I am not to obscure the glass even more than it is meant to be. Over the last few years there have been numerous times when the door has stuck shut or been so difficult to close and lock that I have occasionally thought I would have to leave it open. I did once suggest to She Who Must Be Obeyed that we should replace it with a UPVC door, but she would have none of it, despite that fact that all our windows and the other doors have been changed. I think she didn't really believe me when I assured her that it was possible to get UPVC doors finished in a wood effect, which is what she wanted. However, times have changed and Madam has changed her mind.
This was partly because while we were in France last month our elder son had trouble with his washing machine and he came over to use ours. He had trouble opening the door and, in giving it a hard push, he put his hand through one of the glass panes. He cleared up and found a piece of timber to nail across the hole while he went to get some replacement glass. That caused him something of a problem as, when he mentioned it was for a front door, the shop refused to sell him the glass he wanted on the grounds that the law now requires thicker glass. That, however, would have prevented him replacing the wooden beading holding the glass in place. Eventually he persuaded the shop to sell him the small piece of glass (about 9" x 6") that he needed. He drove back, but managed to hit the glass with the hammer when refitting the beading. Returning to the glass shop, he deliberately refrained from mentioning doors of any description and consequently had no problem in buying a second piece of glass. This one cracked right across as he was refitting the beading and was still like that when we returned home as son ran out of time. We told son not to bother attempting any more DIY as we would replace the door. So I arranged for reps from three double-glazing companies to call.
The first arrived wearing T-shirt and jeans. Now it may be that I am a little old fashioned, but I do think a salesman should dress a bit smarter than that. A jacket and tie is, to my mind, pretty well essential. We told him what we wanted: a door with wood effect both sides. He told us we couldn't have that; we could have wood outside but the inside would have to be white. We selected a design, he measured up and gave us a verbal quote which we had to write on the business card he left with us - no brochure confirming our selection or any other paperwork.
I spoke to rep number 2 on Friday. He asked if we would be available on Saturday and I confirmed, yes, we would be around tomorrow. 'No,' he said, 'on Saturday.' I pointed out that tomorrow was Saturday. 'Oh dear,' he said, 'I seem to have lost a day.' Hmmm. Anyway, he turned up more or less on time - wearing a proper shirt but no jacket or tie - and yes, he could supply a door with wood on both sides. We chose the design and glass and he left us with a written quotation complete with a diagram of the door we had selected. Not only that, but his price was almost 25% less than the first quote.
Rep number three was a woman who rang the bell at exactly the appointed time. She was wearing a smart trouser suit and the faint Brummie accent was not really enough to put me off. She, too, was able to supply what we wanted and, although the price was nearer the first quote than the second - slightly off-putting for me - Madam preferred that design as well as finding the rep more congenial. She also left us with a written quote.
We decided to ignore the most expensive quote and visit the showrooms of the other two companies in the hope of seeing examples of our selections. First up was the cheapest. They had no examples of our choice in stock but we did see a different design which we rather liked. Then we went off to a town several miles away to find the Brummie woman's company - only to find their factory empty. Somebody from a nearby factory told us the company had gone bust but was now trading under a different name from premises in yet another town.
The cheapest rep is currently away (he did tell us he was going) so next week I will ring him and get a quote for the design we saw in his showroom. Knowing my luck, that will probably turn out more expensive even than the first quote.
Watch this space.