At the end of 2011, we ran a competition to find the three houses in the UK that would benefit most from having their windows replaced with real wood windows. The prize was a £5,000 contribution each towards the new windows. Over 4,000 people contacted us. From the more than 400 completed entries, designer, Naomi Cleaver and we chose the winners.
The first winner was a semi-detached house near Stourbridge in the West Midlands. The Reeves had bought the house, a much older building that had been refaced in the nineteenth century, as a wreck at auction. As an economy measure, they decided not to replace the new PVC-U units, but subsequently realized this had been a false economy.
As Helen wrote in her entry: “It already had PVC-U windows, and we had always hoped to change them but never had the budget. Our home is in a conservation area in a village and has a number of listed buildings nearby, including a 17th century cottage next door. We would love to change to wooden sash windows to be more in-keeping with the rest of the village. We hate the PVC-U. It would transform how the house looks, how the street looks and be the icing on the cake.”
Naomi was struck by what a beautiful job had been done on renovating the house. It was clear that changing the windows would make a huge difference to the look of the house. The PVC-U windows had awkward proportions with a very thick centre rail and thin fake glazing bars within the glass unit. The effect was even clumsier when the windows were open, as the top sashes were hinged, not sliding.After the makeover
Howarth (Timber Windows and Doors) Ltd were chosen to supply and install new windows throughout the house, which included double-glazed traditional vertical sliding sashes for the front façade.
Helen’s concerns about the efficiency of wood windows have been completely overcome, “I thought sliding sashes would be draughty,” she said, “but I’m thrilled. The new windows are just as warm as the old windows and we have not had to sacrifice comfort for style; in my eyes the house is now perfect, with no compromise.”
Naomi is just as pleased as Helen, and commented: “The difference in quality, function and feel is immeasurable. Performance is faultless, with the satisfying solidity of these new fittings matching up to the traditional visual appeal.”
Helen has also seen that not changing the windows was a false economy and now thinks that their house is more saleable. Helen added: “For me, value isn’t just about money; good windows change the way you live in a property, it’s great to go in any room and love the windows ‐ I’m so glad we’ve done it.”
Local estate agents Allan Morris & Peace have since confirmed that an extra £20,000 has been added to the sale price of the property as a result of the new windows and doors being installed.
A nineteenth century terrace house that the current owners, the Hindles, have completely renovated. They had developed a loathing for all the plastic in the house, particularly for the front door. As Barney put it, “My wife and I really despise the plastic windows and front door, so these would be the first to go!”
Naomi found lots to love in this house too, which extended out into a pretty rear garden. Changing the windows and doors would make a huge difference. Double-glazed traditional vertical sliding sashes would do away with the chunky centre rail of these hinged units and let more light in, while giving the house an authentic elegance it currently lacks. The front door spoke for itself!
Clarke, Gammon and Wellers, local estate agents, were enthusiastic about returning the cottage to the authentic look of wood windows. They wrote: “If you were to go ahead and replace the front aspect with traditional wood windows I believe it would enhance the street presence and top off a great house. I believe this would then allow you to push the Guide Price up by at least £5-10,000.”After the makeover
Boyland Joinery supplied and installed traditional double glazed vertical sliding sashes and a panelled front door. Particular attention was paid to specifying traditionally elegant hardware.
Delighted by the difference the new wooden windows and door have made to the property, Barney said: “The windows have significantly improved the look and feel of our house. I am quite a traditionalist and am absolutely thrilled that our renovation job is finally complete.”
Barney continued: “I have to admit, when we were talking through the options with Naomi and wood became a serious contender, I was a little dubious. I grew up in the 70’s and held the common misconception that wood meant high maintenance, condensation and rot. I could not have been more wrong ‐ I have since learnt of the huge technological advances, meaning that wood windows, when properly maintained, have a longer service life than PVC-U and are extremely thermally efficient.”
Naomi is personally thrilled that she has been able to complete Barney and Clare's home design project with a beautiful new wooden front door and matching windows at last.
The Darbys bought this sixties detached house from its original owners and are planning a major refurbishment. The house had its original single-glazed metal windows and a large replacement PVC-U window lighting the stairwell. As Kerry put it “Our house simply lacks a soul. The large central PVC window is an eyesore rather that a key feature.”
Although an original feature, the metal windows have a very spartan look. So many single-glazed windows meant this house was expensive to heat. Worse was the condensation that streamed down the windows and puddled on the sills in cold weather. We were expecting to see a big improvement in comfort and performance as well as looks.
Naomi agreed that a natural timber finish would add character to the house. Together, Naomi and Kerry agreed on light oak.After the makeover
Janex, whose windows are designed in Norway, were chosen to supply new windows and doors throughout the property.
As well as dramatically improving the appearance of their home, the new wood windows have had considerable impact on the warmth of the house. Kerry says, “The difference the new wood windows have made is phenomenal. We’re having a new heating system installed, so currently we have no central heating. Even so, it’s lovely and cosy - and much warmer than it was this time last year when we had the heating on but we still had the old windows.”
Kerry initially thought that wood windows seemed more expensive than the alternatives, but soon realised that once you look at the whole life cost it is clear they actually offer better value for money. Kerry added: “Our windows won’t need replacing in our lifetime. In fact, they will still be in good shape should we ever sell the house - and I’m sure they’ve increased its value.
“Anyway, it’s enough for me that the neighbours and all my friends have said the windows have transformed the appearance of the house ‐ they’ve brought it to life, and it’s efficient and warm to boot!”
Naomi agrees that the new windows look fantastic; “When replacing the windows we expected to see a big improvement in looks and performance and the results speak for themselves. The house has so much more character and the Darbys are already benefiting from the improved performance.”