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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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?
No, unfortunately the wood storms are gone. I currently have a bunch
of corroded, falling-apart aluminum ones -- another reason for the
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.
I've been giving this some more thought .. it dawned on me that a 100
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.
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.