By Kirsty Burns, West Port High Performance Timber Windows and Doors.
Timber windows do more than keep a property warm and dry. They are often the main visual features of a building, crucial elements of its authenticity and style. For buildings in conservation areas, keeping the character of the original features can be challenging, especially when it comes to replacing period windows.
Old timber windows can often be repaired and kept in working order, but sometimes they are beyond repair, or just too uncomfortable to live with. When the time comes to change windows in a conservation area, you need to check with your local authority whether an Article 4 applies, which will require you to replicate the period windows you are replacing, including the exact details of the horns, beadings, shape and size.
Timber windows can be manufactured in a wide range of different styles and specifications, even down to the horns and astragal bars. What’s more, modern timber windows are now able to provide the authentic appearance of a period window but with the energy-efficiency, durability, security and low maintenance of a modern factory-finished window, creating a window that achieves the best of both worlds of design and comfort.
Timber is an exceptionally strong and versatile material, and with the help of templates, photos and the correct tooling, manufacturers are able to produce a replica of the original windows while also providing insulation and energy-efficiency.
Even if you live in a period home that isn’t in a conservation area, replacement windows should always be authentic – and that normally means wood – if you are to maintain its value.
A survey of estate agents carried out by English Heritage found ‘unsympathetic replacement windows and doors, particularly plastic/PVCu, is the single biggest threat to property values in conservation areas’.
In 2013, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) listed the top 10 crimes against period homes. The number one? ‘Replacing original good quality sash windows with inappropriate modern aluminium or PVC-u casements and stripping out original doors’.
The Wood Window Alliance has a number of members who can supply period windows. Have a look at the Conservation area page of the website.