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Heartfelt plea not to remove sash windows

(168 Posts)
Rooners Sat 09-Aug-14 10:43:49

I thought this might just persuade a few people but it seems such a desperate thing, now, with nearly everyone being told by their surveyor or just persuaded by popular trends to replace beautiful old wooden windows with UPVC.

I've been looking at Rightmove and elsewhere SOLIDLY for about 9 months now, and we are only just exchanging contracts this week on a place so I kind of know the scarcity of houses with original windows.

There are SO few. sad

People are often not aware of the quality of craftsmanship that went into them - or the high quality of wood that you just cannot get these days, even if you use a high end replacement sash company to make brand new ones to match - and assume that they will not last, will be high maintenance, and that the UPVC ones will be superior.

It's really sad but the thing is, UPVC windows have built in obsolescence - they will eventually get black mould or staining on them, which can't be cleaned off, and will generally last around 50 years as opposed to a hundred or two hundred years with properly maintained wooden ones. All it takes is a coat of paint every year or three, and they really do look so much nicer on an old property than plastic ones.

I am biased as I have a background in antique restoration - if someone tried to sell me a Victorian doll and it had had plastic eyes put in instead of hand blown glass ones, I would reject it out of hand.

Houses not so much as there is so little choice these days, and you're goingto find it hard to find something totally original but it just amazes me that people don't realise it lowers the value of the house quite often.

In places where the windows have well and truly fallen apart then fine, of course you need to replace them, and wooden ones cost an absolute bomb so all sympathies with going with what's affordable.

But I think people are being conned frankly into paying for something that supposedly 'improves' your home when in fact it's chipping away steadily at our architectural heritage, to the point where in a few years there just won't be any proper old windows left, and houses that have them, well maintained, will cost a premium.

No offence intended to anyone, anywhere, except for UPVC salesmen and anyone else who profits from this baloney smile

Rooners Sat 09-Aug-14 12:22:41

I agree PJ it is a false economy to rip them out and replace especially when you consider how they were made by hand and extremely well, using top quality wood.

They wouldn't have lasted a hundred years otherwise.

Is there somewhere that they can be recycled though - I often see perfectly serviceable ones in skips and wish I could rescue them forother people to use.

We had a survey on the house we're buying and it recommended replacing the lot. I was really shocked at the stupidity of that, aesthetics or not. And it's in a cons area and subject to article 4 which means you need to copy the design of the original windows, and UPVC unless a direct copy would be rejected by the planning committee.

Rooners Sat 09-Aug-14 12:23:35

LEM - HB one I linked to before!

JassyRadlett Sat 09-Aug-14 12:30:38

We would have loved to have the huge sash windows in our old flat refurbished and double glazed but we simply didn't have tens of thousands of pounds lying about. So we did what we could to maintain them and improve their energy efficiency but it was pretty poor. I would never have replaced with UPVC even if we'd been allowed, but refurbishment is far from cheap.

We're now in a 1920s semi that already had high quality
UPVC when we moved in (originals wouldn't have been sash anyway). Our heating bill is lower in this 3-bed house than it was in a smallish 2-bed flat.

For a lot of people, economics will win over aesthetics, and that's understandable.

JassyRadlett Sat 09-Aug-14 12:34:39

Sorry - just looked up the quote and tens and thousands is overstating, but the cheapest quote we had was over £10K.

Sandthorn Sat 09-Aug-14 12:34:49

It's always a shame to lose the original character of a nice house, but I think it's easy to be precious and judgemental when you're not the one having to make a choice between the perfect windows and replacing the boiler. A lot of the houses that still have original windows only have them because owners over the last 30 years just haven't had the money to replace them. They may be past repair; and they're never very insulating. LEM, I'm sure your partner does beautiful work, but I bet it's cheaper to buy a upvc casement window than to have a defunct sash window restored to its former glory AND double glazed.

I see restoring my house to some original character as a labour of love, but it's a home first and foremost, not a museum. I'm not going to put up with heat-sink windows in 2014 for fear of offending a potential buyer in the unknown future!

No period house is in 100% original condition, and it'd be a pain in the arse if it was. We wanted original features, and got many, but we've had to trawl eBay, and salvage yards and reproductions for some of the details we really wanted. There are some amazing artisans around, making windows to match your house's age, style and scale, but with double glazing, or fireplaces with hearths that meet current safety standards.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 09-Aug-14 12:36:10


The house I rent in has sash windows. In fact, so did the last one - they had metal frames and froze on the inside in winter.

I think I'll carry on being happy people replace them, sorry! I'm sure they're lovely if they're very well made or if you whack the central heating up, but they are very drafty if badly made or badly maintained.

Whenwillwe3meetagain Sat 09-Aug-14 12:40:20

Sorry but we have put UPVC double glazing into our house to replace the old original sash windows. They are the same style as the original and are a joy. We can't hear road noise and we were so much warmer over the winter. The quotes we got for wooden compared to UPVC were 3x as expensive and we couldn't justify it.
Our road in SW London has a mixture of original and UPVC and in most cases you have to look quite carefully to tell between them.

Rooners Sat 09-Aug-14 12:52:20

Whenwill - that is totally understandable and tbh if you can't see the difference then they probably look pretty nice.

I found out that UPVC sash windows were of variable quality but the higher end ones are not that far off the price (and quality) of wooden ones.

LRD are you sure you're not talking about Crittal windows? Never seen a metal sash in my life! I am on the fence about Crittal - I've had them advertised by Estate agents as a positive (if retro) feature but they are far less attractive and far less warm or efficient than sashes imo.

Financial reasons are critical to most people's decisions - and short term especially, which is a shame as longer term it improves value to keep the original wood I think. Depending on what the street is like in general, also, because if it's a street full of falling down houses nothing you do is going to make a lot of odds to the value of your house.

What makes me cross is not the actual people replacing them. It's people in the UPVC window business TELLING people to replace them, people who haven't heard the other side of the story, and just fall for the sales pitch.

That makes me angry because obviously they don't explain how easy or cost effective it can be just to replace the bottom bar of a sash, or a frame, or whatever. It's all about maximising profit for them.

sacbina Sat 09-Aug-14 13:44:48

you said it yourself - of course it's all about maximising profit, they're a business

btw - I have no opinion on the rights and wrongs of sash windows, but do get a bit bored of these kind of threads

LEMmingaround Sat 09-Aug-14 15:57:38

If you get bored with these threads why post?

RedErik Sat 09-Aug-14 16:57:11

pigletjohn the rope mechanism is only one problem though as my post says. If your car needed new tyres but also wasn't very reliable, it was old, rusty and didn't go faster then 50 miles an hour you might think about getting a new one. Even if it did look nice.

snoggle Sat 09-Aug-14 17:09:29

My house is supposed to have beautiful art deco aluminium suntrap windows. They have been replaced with upvc, with fake Georgian glazing bars which I hate. Totally wrong style and lots of plastic, and they convert what should be lovely curved bays into fiddly 5-sided ones.
Converting back would be a hugely expensive job, but they make me sad.

ShoeWhore Sat 09-Aug-14 17:14:11

My neighbour is trying to sell her house which has original Victorian sashes - so many viewers have turned their noses up at them even though they are beautiful and in pretty good condition. I think it's really sad sad

noddyholder Sat 09-Aug-14 17:15:41

UPVC windows are to old houses what veneers are to teeth Just look terrible

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 09-Aug-14 17:16:22

We have the original 1880 sash windows and they badly need replacing - it will be costing us a bomb when we eventually have them done. We are in a conservation area so they would have to be exactly the same design and spec as the originals. Our neighbours are having theirs done this year and we will get some quotes when theirs are going in.

KERALA1 Sat 09-Aug-14 17:17:48

Ours are beautiful. Turn of the century elegant house. Mil often comments on how we should rip them all out and replace them with "smart" PVC. But this is a women who can walk past beautiful old cottages then sigh with delight at the 1970s built houses with their car ports and drives. With you op but some people have very different taste...

BarbaraPalmer Sat 09-Aug-14 17:23:42

we have the original sashes as the back and the side, but the front were replaced. I'd love to put sashes back in, but it really is very expensive.

On the other hand, having the existing ones refurbished wasn't too ££. I think £175 per window to have them taken out, new cords, re-weighted so they run smoothly and don't rattle, draught-proofed, sanded and primed for painting.

Callmegeoff Sat 09-Aug-14 17:32:37

I completely agree, we have sash windows which were restored by the previous owners.

My previous Edwardian house has had it's original windows replaced with PVC, I'm quite sad about it.

anastasiakrupnik Sat 09-Aug-14 19:35:52

We had metal sasheson our front bay in our last flat, ugly and cold, with a broken mechanism. I could never decide what to do so we did nothing, leaving that decision to the next people.

Marmitelover55 Sat 09-Aug-14 19:52:46

We live in a Victorian house and had to replace the original sash windows at thd front and side about 10 years ago (when the painted and decorator said they were completely rotten).. I would have preferred wood but the quote was £7k compared to £3.5k for upvc sash windows. I'm afraid we chose the upvc, but they do look pretty good and we are happy with them. We still have the original sashes at the back upstairs but the DDs would love new upvc windows as theirs are so drafty...

MarshaBrady Sat 09-Aug-14 19:57:27

We're in a conservation area too, and for that I am grateful. The street is mostly Georgian.

MarshaBrady Sat 09-Aug-14 19:57:52

ie you can't replace the windows, just restore.

Rooners Sun 10-Aug-14 07:40:16

'btw - I have no opinion on the rights and wrongs of sash windows, but do get a bit bored of these kind of threads'

Sorry about that! I guess it matters quite a lot to me and I wanted to reach a small audience in the hope of awakening some consciousnesses...I felt compelled really, just to try.

If people were routinely painting over old artworks with emulsion I think a lot of people would object.

I drove past quite a few UPVC sash windows yesterday which I have to admit I had not noticed were UPVC before. I went past one at close quarters which was appalling though, and clearly fairly old - the cross bar of the upper sash was bowing down, completely away from the joints with the side bars.

If that is how they are going to wear then I'd rather not think about it! You wouldn't get that with a wooden sash window.

There was one house we saw that had original windows and they were, actually, completely rotted so that the wood had all separated at the joints and the glass edges could be seen and there were actual gaps - if you had even tried to open those, it all would have fallen out on passers by. They will have to go, obviously - but the house was in a generally dreadful state and so bad they couldn't do internal viewings, and they sold it by photographic inspection!

It still went way over asking price though. That's what it's like here. Student landlord conversions.

Rooners Sun 10-Aug-14 07:46:42

This is a fairly good outline of the arguments against UPVC, for anyone who is interested.]]

Drawn up by an architect who is fed up with clients wanting uPVC

Roonerspism Sun 10-Aug-14 07:47:06

We love ours but they are freezing.

I would never remove them.

You can replace the glass with thicker glass though. And have them double glazed and although it is expensive, it's no more so than replacing them with plastic ones.

Ours are 90 years old and still work perfectly. Our previous house had PVC windows which were 30 years old and mouldy, non functioning and one actually fell in! I mourned the loss of the wooden ones.

Ps I'm no relation to OP!

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