In the rush to replace timber windows with modern uPVC we are throwing away our architectural heritage, but are we throwing away our money too? Evidence shows restoring and upgrading our original windows is both more appealing and more cost effective.
Common problems with original windows are extensive decay, draughts and that they are hard to use.
So English Heritage carried out extensive research into these problems with experts at Glasgow Caledonian University. Their report findings are clear: with simple and sensible adjustments, historic windows could be as energy efficient as their 21st century counterparts.
“We welcomed English Heritage’s findings,” says Alison de Roeck, Director of Kierson Sash Window and Timber Restoration. “As an architectural conservation company we try to show clients what they have is precious and should be looked after for the future. Installing double glazed units has proved to be uneconomic, but we should also be considering that a large proportion of an original window is hand blown glass and yet people want to take it out and throw it away. If we call this glass an antique it helps people to realise that throwing an antique in the skip just isn’t done.”
“Many original timber sash windows have lasted more than two hundred years and are capable of lasting another century with the kind of professional upgrade we offer”.
“It is very encouraging to see that more buildings are being refurbished to meet modern energy requirements,” says Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, “but all too often a drastic and insensitive approach has led to the degradation of our streetscapes.”
Kierson , Nottinghamshire based company has also just been awarded The Civic Society Building Award for their contribution to retaining and improving Retford’s street-scene.
Cheaper, better
“It’s important that as much as possible of the original joinery is left intact, for example we will not replace a sill if we can possibly repair it,” says Alison. Using a mixture of traditional and modern techniques Kierson can restore all rotten and damaged timber. “The careful use of top quality repair compounds means that even small sections of mouldings and beadings can be replicated in situ without disturbing any of the original.”
Draughtproofing again is a modern addition to traditional joinery. But The Kierson Draughtproofing System is subtle and sympathetic and is tailored to each individual window. “Our draughtproofing system is the best compromise between retaining original features and enhancing the experience of living with them.”
Keeping your original windows doesn’t just give you a cosy feeling, repair and improvement generally costs only between one-quarter and one-third of replacement. Restoring rather than ripping out means there is less damage to interior walls and decoration.
Clear benefits
Tim Shuldham, partner at Fisher German, faced this problem with the windows at their 1928 Retford office, the town’s former post office. The windows had decayed, were draughty to live with and hard to use.
Tim has been delighted at the results of Kierson’s work on his office and the work carried out for his estate owning clients including the Trinity Hospital Estates and Hooton Pagnall Estate.
Kierson works nationwide: it recently restored no fewer than 400 windows at The Old Railway Offices in Altrincham, restored the windows for The Old Police Station in Keighley and has a number of privately owned Grade I and II* properties listed among its clients.
With all current health and Safety legislation catered for and a highly skilled and trained works force Kierson provides this service to many national Main Contractors and firms of Surveyors listing Faithful and Gould, Henry Boot, ISG , GF Tomlinsons and Togel among their clients.
And your property doesn’t have to be listed to have this kind of work undertaken. Tim stresses the affordability of such repairs for more ordinary properties and also for commercial properties: “The general perception is that only those with unlimited budgets can afford to pay for heritage restoration. But whether you own a two bedroom Victorian terraced house, a country estate or a vast iconic public structure like Kings Cross, the work will cost a lot less than replacing windows and the building can be cosy and fuel efficient. In fact, there is no reason at all to rip out the soul of a building to save money or energy – because the exact opposite is true. You’ll save money on the work itself and on fuel bills – and will be playing your part in preserving Britain’s architectural heritage.”
Revitalised timber windows explained
“The mixture of modern and traditional techniques used in restoring original windows mean they are likely to last longer than their modern equivalents”, says Kierson’s Alison de Roeck. “We use traditional splicing along with modern compounds to retain as much of the existing wood as possible. When we restore, it is very important we keep the original glass. It is unique, and part of the original features. We can also repair or replace all the mechanisms within the sash window to get it working exactly the way it should. The installation of our own draughtproofing system means you can start to love to live with your beautiful old windows again.”
Proven benefits
Tests carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University for English Heritage show:
•    30% reduction in draughts by repairing windows
•    nearly 90% cut in draughts through draught proofing
•    more than 40% reduction in heat loss by installing heavy curtains or close fitting rollers?
•    Wooden shutters perform as well as modern double glazing
•    more than 60% of heat loss can be saved by secondary glazing

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