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On the importance of saving vintage windows

Carol Hazard had a great long piece on richmond.com over the weekend on the folks behind Old House Authority and the importance of saving vintage windows in old houses:

Old windows can break, leak and test a homeowner’s patience when they get stuck, Dotts said. But they can be repaired. “Replacement windows, on the other hand, can never be repaired,” Dotts said. “They can only be replaced.”

The window industry has convinced many homeowners that the best way to make their houses more energy-efficient is to replace well-crafted, original wood windows with inferior vinyl products, said Dotts, an agent with Virginia Properties, a Long & Foster Co.

Once repaired or fully restored, vintage windows can be combined with low-profile storm windows to preserve them for the next 100-plus years and make them as energy-efficient as most new windows, restoration experts say.

See also: Restore Those Old Windows by Dixon Kerr

PHOTO of Dixon Kerr via This is Carpentry

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Dana Bagby
Dana Bagby
3 years ago

LOVE THIS!

Brett Eastman
Brett Eastman
2020 years ago

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Tally Botzer
Tally Botzer
2020 years ago

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Amy Nocero Swartz
Amy Nocero Swartz
2020 years ago

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Huotari fan
Huotari fan
3 years ago

Not that I’m against preservation, I highly admire the art and the engagement to our past, but there are perfectly good, brand new wood windows that look exactly the same from the street and probably from inside too. A lot of people can’t afford to do such repairs. In fact, it’s how lower income folks get priced out of certain districts. CAR wouldn’t let me replace my plain ol’ bay windows with brand new, wooden, exact replicas. We never wanted vinyl. From the street there is no way to tell the difference. It’s the *idea* of history, or the attempt… Read more »

Jasmine Barber
Jasmine Barber
2020 years ago

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Icka Cantilo
Icka Cantilo
2020 years ago

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CH resident
CH resident
3 years ago

I just recently bought a 170 year old home and the windows I inherited were installed in the 1980’s. They are wood, but they are not “historical” by any means. When I went to renovate my house, I was only allowed to change out 3 out of 11 windows. I was willing to put all new wood windows in! The windows I would have put in would have been much better than the windows from the 1980’s that are in there. So really my question is, what am I actually preserving? And the only reason that they actually permitted me… Read more »

Bea Cross
Bea Cross
2020 years ago

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Liz Morton
Liz Morton
2020 years ago

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Alex Goodmundson
Alex Goodmundson
2020 years ago

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Greg Bristow
Greg Bristow
2020 years ago

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Amanda McGuire
Amanda McGuire
2020 years ago

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Michael Onsel
Michael Onsel
2020 years ago

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Kerry Davis Mossler
Kerry Davis Mossler
2020 years ago

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Sarah Hernandez Zolla
Sarah Hernandez Zolla
2020 years ago

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Brian
Brian
3 years ago

There’s nothing wrong with preserving history, but how many of you really enjoy feeling the breeze inside your house with all of your windows “closed?” My windows are 107 years old and I cannot wait for my new, not vinyl but a wood polymer composite, windows arrive. They’re stupid expensive at $1450ish each, but if a full restoration for a single pane window is about $1500 anyway, I definitely don’t feel bad about replacing it with a double pane window with all its fancy features for about the same price. I’m having seven windows replaced at the end of the… Read more »

Jason
Jason
3 years ago

I understand one can make a case for replacing or restoring. If you choose restoration call… Restoration Builders Of Virginia. They are excellent at this kind of work. They have decades of experience and are based in Church Hill. I’ve seen nothing but quality from them. If you decide to restore your windows or anything else in your home I suggest you call them. I must mention that if people like RBVA were not restoring some of this stuff for 30 or so years, the Church Hill we all know and love may not be as charming as it is… Read more »

Jason
Jason
3 years ago

I’m sure old house authority, mentioned in the post, is great too. I just don’t know them

ilya
ilya
3 years ago

Excellent post Huotari fan. I agree, preservation is taken to ridiculous extremes. Change is the only constant.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago

I do old wood restoration work.and I have never seen a restoration go as high as 1250 each even when I worked for Rbva! Also if you replace with exactly what was there originally the permission is just a formality they cannot disapprove or delay you! Also original windows with storm windows are a much greater r value than replacement in most cases

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