Window replacement dilemma -- please help

Hi,
I live in a 100+ year old house that has the original windows. They're drafty and inefficient, so it would be nice to replace them all (23), but there are a handful that are more urgent due to failing mechanics or rotting. The thing is, we'll probably be selling the house within the next five or so years, so am not sure what is the best approach to take. One plan would be to spot replace the worst ones first, then do the others when convenient, which may or may not result in the whole house getting done by the time we sell. Another plan would be to just buck up and get them all done at once, however, if we sell sooner than later, likely won't recoup much of what we spend. There's also the issue of quality. If I just patch up the problem ones with a few lower end vinyl replacements (which would still be much better than what's in there now) would that reflect poorly on the house when it comes time to sell?
Thanks!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If they are anything other than a plain casement, I'd want to consider the character of the house carefully in the replacement process. While you undoubtedly can save some energy, the wrong window (from an appearance/style/type viewpoint) in an older house can be a killer on resale. Just a caution...
If it were mine (and I'm in a house of the same age roughly w/ leaded glass uppers in the casement windows), if it was something similar to these I'd probably do them a few at a time starting w/ the worst and most frequently used.
When this house was redone some years ago, we took the old frames w/ the sash cords out and replaced them w/ new track systems. The windows themselves were either refurbished if in decent shape or the original glass fitted into new frames (even the lower panes are old enough to show the imperfections of glass from that time so to lose that would be to change the "patina" of the house dramatically. We then added storm windows of an appropriate style for the enhanced energy savings.
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That's an interesting approach. How did you get it done? Is it something most contractors can do?
Regarding keeping the character of the house goes, all of our trim and moldings are very dark so we would need something similar in the windows. We have some friends with a similar style that stuck in white replacements, and they look terrible against the wood.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Local glass shop did the frames, Dad and I did the windows. I had brought my shaper back to do kitchen cabinets and left it after I showed him a few "tricks" (not often one gets to do that, it's usually other way 'round, isn't it? :) ). He had the whole house gutted so we were able to set up a complete shop in the living room area and since there are 10-ft ceilings and the old sitting parlor and formal living room were connected and took an entire half of the house, was really a quite luxurious shop space... :)
I would think a competent glass shop could, although if they're only into modern Al or vinyl one might have to find a good cabinet/millwork shop to get replacement sash made. One simplification in our case is that the lower sash is 1-light instead of multiple and the leaded uppers means no wood muntins in them, either. But, I've made lots of 4- and 6-light casement windows--there's really not much to it w/ a good shaper or even a decent router in a table and a quality set of cutters.

There's far more to "character" than simply the color, but that's a part.
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In article
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Window World installs windows at about half what others charge and I was pleased with their service and products when I had my windows redone this spring. Get their estimate for the whole job, it might not be expensive as you fear. Good windows will ass a lot to the resale value of the house.
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Window World is cheap, and their windows look it. I had a quote from them and looked at a few of there installations. By far the ugliest and cheapest looking windows around. They scream plastic, and have no character. I decided to pay 3K more and get something I wouldn't hate looking at each time I came home. Putting those windows in a 100 year old house will probably lower it's value. There are nice looking vinyl windows out there, but not from Window World.
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In article

To each his own, plastic works much better than wood or aluminum.
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I wasn't knocking vinyl windows, just Window World vinyl windows.
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Nick Hull wrote: ...

For some definition of "works" and "better"... :)
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I wasn't knocking vinyl windows, just the windows from Window World, I put vinyls in my house, but chose better looking ones from another manufacturer.
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Thanks for the input so far guys. I think rebuilding my current windows is a cool option, but with no time (two small children) and no proper workshop, might not be feasible. I've been poking around the web for wood replacements which look pretty nice and seem to cost about as much if I DIY as I would spend for an ugly vinyl replacement + labor. I'll look into it further, but based on the concerns about aesthetics and property value, I think I've pretty much ruled out slapping in cheap vinyls as a band-aid approach.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: ...

If the house has any real "character" at all, don't think you'll regret that decision at all and probably will pay as well.
One thing to consider in that regard (and the prime reason for the route we took here) is the interior woodwork. Depending on what is there and how the house is finished out/furnished, slapping in a new replacement window with a narrow, modern trim just is terribly out of place. There's 6" wide sash here w/ a top header and bed mould w/ an end return on the top, and a bead w/ return on the stool here. Losing that would be an absolute crime imo...
But, of course, depends on what's been done before and what is to be done now and in the future...
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I love old homes with original stuff, so I am partial. I would not want to put new windows in one, but it isn't my problem :o) If you are relatively handy, you might be able to repair the bad parts if you can have matching millwork done. Depending on the rest of the house, keeping original windows might bring a higher price at sale. It's kind of fun to mess around with old windows - worked on some at my daughter's home, but didn't include such major work.
Do you have wood storms? What condition?
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No, unfortunately the wood storms are gone. I currently have a bunch of corroded, falling-apart aluminum ones -- another reason for the upgrade.
I'd love to refurbish what I have, but just don't have the time (and probably skills) at this point. If I do end up replacing them, I'll store the originals in case someone later on decides they'd like to do something with them.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

year old home doesn't seem nearly as old as it used to :o)
What parts are in need of replacement because of rot .. sills, sash, frame? I would itch to work on them if it was my house..one of those jobs I can't resist. If there is a real good woodworker in the neighborhood, they might enjoy participating by fashioning the wood parts you need to replace. If the rot is minor, wood filler works wonders..I filled in my daughter's old wood storms that had stood in the garage for about 100 years. If handled gently, they will stay together. It was more of a sculpture project than a repair :o)
23 new windows is one hell of a lot of $....if the rest of the house is original and hasn't been "modernized", I would patch them up, make them look decent, and find a buyer who wants to restore them.
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The main rot issue is in the stops between the sashes in a couple windows. Now that I've looked into it more, and since most of the windows rattle, maybe upgrading the stops and re-puttying the glass might help with efficiency. I also just came across a site that suggests a way to make the stops tight enough that you can remove the sash counterweights and fill the weight cavities with insulation. Seems that would cause a lot more rubbing on the sashes though, and wear them down over time. I still like the idea of putting in double- pane glass, but if I'm selling in a couple years, maybe just upgrading what I have would be good enough.
Regarding the modernization of the house, it's pretty much still all original, except for some drywall here and there, and attic insulation we added last year. The woodwork is beautiful, except for some paint drips that (which we guess) the previous owners allowed to happen during their hasty repainting before sale. Our inspector remarked on what great shape the house was in. Interestingly, the only part that's in rough shape is this shoddy addition that looks like it was put on in the 60's or 70's that we'll need to rip down eventually.
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