Historic Home Renovations

The Westview Community Organization recognized developer Jim Kelly at the Westview Community Organization meeting on Monday, June 6th, 2011, for his committment to “context sensitive design in his rehabilitaion of historic homes in Westview.” Photos of Jim’s quality work can be seen on the Westview Facebook page.

Jim is a resident of West End. Thanks, Jim, for helping to rehabilitate one of Westview’s most valuable assets – its historic homes!

Crippling Rehabs

The majority of Westview’s houses are made up of beautiful historic 1910s and 1920s era Arts and Crafts construction. Someone once made the statement that the windows are the eyes of these houses. Which begs the question – why would you want to tear out your houses eyes?

Unfortunately that is precisely what is happening in the neighborhood and around the country. Homeowners, and even more so investors, looking for a quick “improvement”, are tearing out the eyes of these historic homes to replace them with cheap vinyl windows. Just as asbestos was once touted the grand new fad that would eliminate maintenance, vinyl window sales people are now convincing homeowners that their beautiful old wood windows require too much maintenance and are not energy efficient.

So before you tear out your old windows, or if you see that investor next to you getting ready to tear out the windows, remember the following points:

  • Properly maintained wood windows last an average of 200 years! In comparison, studies have shown that vinyl windows last an average of 20 years before they become brittle and crack. You do the math.
  • 20% of energy loss is through the windows – the remaining 80% is through roof, walls, floor and chimneys. Looks like you’re better off getting that attic insulated!
  • In housing trends asbestos has come and gone; aluminum has come and gone; polybutylene water lines have come and gone. Wood has proven itself to humans for thousands of years – why not stick with what we know works?
  • You are visually crippling these historic houses by removing such an aesthetically pleasing and matching look. Remember, the “eyes are the windows to the soul” – or in this case, the “windows are the eyes to the [houses] soul”.

For more information regarding truths and myths about replacing historic windows read The Old House Guy’s article “The Truth about Windows and Storm Windows“.