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Period meets contemporary — Windows

While old houses can be wonderful places to live in and own, they tend to come with drawbacks such as draughts, creaks and energy inefficiency. All these faults can make the idea of ripping out original windows in favour of modern double glazing particularly tempting, however much that may ruin the aesthetic. But before you go ahead and make a decision you might later regret, here are a few things you should be aware of…

Historically, wood was the cheap, abundant and durable material to make window frames from. That all changed in the 1980s with the advent of energy-saving, draft-free double glazing.

Now a standard fixture in new-build homes, double glazing is strong, secure and insulates against both outside noise and seasonal cold and heat. If your bedroom window overlooks a busy road, it could be just the thing. But if you own a period property, installing it might not be a great as it sounds. Here’s why…

It could reduce your property value

While they look perfectly fine on a modern properties, double glazing with uPVC frames tends to clash with the period charms of older properties. In some cases, this can look so out of place, it can actually reduce the property’s market value.

 Image credit:  williefogg . CC License Image credit:  williefogg . CC License

Timber and metal frames are available

With more and more homeowners looking to preserve the original aesthetic of their home while benefitting from the insulting qualities of double glazing, alternatives are being made available. There are modern timber alternatives to plastic frames, for example, while metal frames are also an option.

While both of these types of frame do cost more than uPVC options, they also stand out less on historic buildings and some can even be made to replicate the original windows of a property, retaining the look while still giving you all of the benefits of double glazing.

You may not be allowed to modernise

Historic England is unlikely to allow modern replacements on any listed building. This is because it views original windows as being one of the integral elements of a building that makes it special enough to be listed. In cases where the windows are deemed to be too badly damaged to repair, or if they are losing an incredible amount of energy from the property, it may be possible to get listed building consent to replace the windows with modern replicas of the original.

Non-historic windows that are not deemed to be of interest can be replaced with double glazing but may require for the replacements to be in keeping with the styling of the property in order to gain consent.

You might have to go bespoke

Fitting ‘off the shelf’ windows for convenience, cost and speed may be tempting. However, it might be better to have unique windows made bespoke for your home. Not only will this look better but because the windows of historic properties are frequently no-standard in size, their unusual shape or quirky design may have to be replicated in order to preserve it.

As with any period property home improvement, think carefully about every option available before embarking on a project.

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