The Window of Inopportunity

08 Apr

Living in the historic district of Old Town has its benefits, but it also has its hassles – namely some of the restrictions on exterior elements when you’re renovating a house. As quaint as they are, the original windows of our house are coming apart and are about as energy-efficient as wax paper, so we planned to replace these with new windows that are identical in style. Same with our front door. No such luck.

Although neighbors up the block in our row of houses successfully replaced their front-facade windows and door during a renovation a few years ago, since then, the city has now seen fit to prohibit such replacements for any house built before 1930. We unfortunately fall into this category. The reason for the restriction is to preserve the historic, rolled-glass windows on the street-facing facade of houses. The rolled-glass technique results in slightly uneven glass panes that are characteristic of older houses. Preserving these windows maintains the historic nature of the houses in Old Town, but presents a challenge to homeowners who put a premium on energy efficiency.

In support of the required windows rehabilitation effort, the windows on the main floor began to be removed in late March:

Inside the house became notably darker:

In addition to the windows themselves, we also have original storm windows that hang from nails over each window and fit inside the exterior window frame – these and the top and bottom of the windows themselves are stored temporarily, before being removed for off-site rehabilitation. Since the windows have the iron counterweights inside on either side of the window (you can see the pulleys at the top of each window), these will need to be reattached, so the guys will need to take down the closet framing blocking the left side of the left window at some point:

By the end of the month, the second-floor windows had been removed, as well, and our house was looking like it had been condemned as part of an urban renewal program – we keep thinking that we’ll drop by one day to find a community of hobos inside huddled around a trashcan fire.

The depressingly dark guest room, now devoid of natural light:

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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Exterior


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