If regularly maintained, timber framed windows can last many years but inevitably the time comes when they have served out their useful lives and are no longer fit for purpose. Property owners may also simply wish to improve the thermal or acoustic insulation of their homes regardless of the condition of the frames. Replacing the windows in any home is a major project with significant costs but there are additional concerns with period properties and buildings in conservation areas.
The Period Home
Historic buildings have unique characters and it is important to preserve their architectural integrity and exterior appearance. Fitting the wrong windows can ruin the look of a home even if it is a modern build and can therefore be a very costly mistake. Listed buildings are protected by law and the owner must obtain consent from the local council to alter the windows and that includes the design, the materials they are constructed of or the method of opening them. It is rare for consent to be granted to fit double glazing to listed buildings even if the proposed windows are in all other regards replicas of the originals.
To change the windows on a house in a conservation area it is necessary to seek approval for the proposed work from the local conservation officer who will also advise the owner regarding the need for planning permission. A Building Notice application is required whether planning permission must be sought or not. The installation of the new units will be closely monitored and if the work is completed to the necessary standards a compliance certificate will be issued.
A listed building will require replacement windows of timber construction which replicate the originals. Until recently timber would almost always have been the only material to be approved in conservation areas too but that is set to change. If timber frames are necessary and the originals are absent, neighbouring properties can be inspected to obtain the details of the required design. Wooden windows are costly and require considerable on-going maintenance which is time consuming and expensive for the owners. The wood must be regularly inspected, stained or painted and also cleaned quarterly to prevent rotting and to preserve the exterior appearance of the house. The mechanisms for opening the windows may also need treating with silicon spray or candle wax to move freely.
Composite windows will almost certainly not be an option for listed buildings but owners of homes in conservation areas may gain permission to use the latest innovation in PVC-U windows. Residence 9 windows are a new system with each unit being a bespoke piece manufactured to the exact specifications of the home owner. The frames have 9 chambers for exceptional thermal and acoustic insulation and are extremely robust. Each window is joined in the traditional style and finished with a convincing wood grain texture in any one of 11 heritage colours. These windows are fashioned to be replicas of 19th century constructions and look highly authentic to the extent that they are acceptable for use in many conservation areas. These innovative windows afford the benefits of low maintenance whilst maintaining the look of an historic building and are more cost effective than many timber frames.
About the Author
Sally Stacey is a keen blogger with an interet in period properties and their restoration.