Don’t know if it’s getting old that I post about replacement windows but it has become epidemic.
Serving on the “Landmarks Commission” in my commmunity we’ve seen a doubling of COA’s (certificate of appropriateness) this last year over the year prior for taking out repairable windows for “replacement” windows.
By the time a homeowner has made the decision to replace their windows, submitted their COA and come to the commission their minds are already set and they’ve resigned themselves that they’re going to be spending all that money to replace their windows. After all, the window manufacturers, retailers and installers have all made very compelling arguments for why they should do so. And to boot there are “home energy” subsidy/incentives.
It’s “Green” and saves energy so I’ll save money in the long run on heating expense right? It’ll increase my homes value, right? I’ll bite the bullet and spend the money. It must be the right thing to do. Right?
Well without the benefit of knowing that there are lower-cost alternatives and what the down side is for taking out their repairable, “green-er” and potentially equally efficient windows (combined with sound storm windows) they’re making the best decision they can. And therein lies the challenge. There is very little counterbalance to the prevailing marketing message that replacement windows are the best choice. Consumers simply don’t know what the down-side is, what there options are or how to decide.
- There is a new website, savethewindow.org recently launched by the National Trust for Historic Preservation that attempts to set the record straight on what the hidden costs are of “replacement windows”. They do a great job of telling the story. They had a video. It seems to have gone missing. Here though are others.
- This is the single most compelling outline for how to decide… Should I, or should I not replace my windows. “Repair or Replace Old Windows – A visual look at the Impacts” (It’s a PDF download)
I would though like to add a couple points and observations of my own though. Note, I’ve completely ripped off the pics from the NT’s document “Repair or Replace Old Windows” above to illustrate my own points. So photo credits to them.
- It’s going to impact my homes resale value.
If you have a distinctive, well maintained older home you’re not going to out-new the new construction on the edges of town. I propose that you’re better off playing to the strength of your home and that is the period charm and character of your old house… and that includes your windows. Chances are a new buyer, if they’re interested in “Old Houses” likely have an appreciation for the character original windows add. Clunky, replacement windows can actually diminish the character of your distinctive old house and, I propose, impact your homes marketability.
(Side note: I call these “Little Orphan Annie” houses. It’s easy to find bad examples in clearly distressed neighborhoods. These owners have few options. Homes as this though where they clearly have money to spend… why would they denude a home like this. Ask yourself. A potential home buyer, if they were interested in a distinctive old houses in the first place, would they choose this or another where that same money (or less) was put into repairing what makes homes like these distinctive. If the potential buyer wants “new & generic” there are better new & generic without the bother of old house home ownership.)
- I’m increasing the resale value of my home right?
Often times not. You’ll find that you can’t afford to replace distinctive, high quality windows with anything like what was there originally. It’s just too @%#$ expensive to try and replicate with new windows.
As a result what happens is they swap in down-graded approximations. Add one more nail to the coffin of what had once been a distinctive old house with charm to one that has been denuded and reduced to remudeled ordinaryness.
Old house enthusiasts who can already discern and appreciation the aesthetic of original period windows are likely not interested in rip-n-replace in the first place. It’s more likely that those who don’t see or value the aesthetic of original windows that are quickest to pull them out. These folks are likely better persuaded by the pragmatic economics of replacements.
Actually this is the easier point to make. There is a growing number of independent, 3rd party evaluations on the actual energy savings and cost savings of repaired original windows with a storm over replacement windows. Many of these studies are coming from the utility companies themselves who are debunking the replacement window cost savings smoke-n-mirrors. I’ve blogged on this elsewhere but these citations have expanded since this post.
Saving Windows: Saving Money
Evaluating the energy performance of window replacement and retrofit
Our other posts on home energy and replacement windows
A recent continuing education seminar put on by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and Portland OR addressed how best to market old houses. It was reported on recently on the Finance & Commerce website.
“Owning and selling a historic property can be a gratifying – and lucrative – experience for property owners. But the process of determining a property’s historic status and then properly marketing it to reflect that status can make the difference between a big sale and an ordinary one.”
A key factor is that of simple economics of supply and demand. There is an ever-expanding supply of new home construction for that larger share of the market that appreciates new construction.
For that smaller but growing market for quality old houses with character in stable and improving neighborhoods in convenient proximity to community amenities, that supply is diminishing in many areas but growing to meet demand in others as property owners renovate and restore their homes.
What are best practices for selling old houses in historic districts?
- Doing your homework on the house. “All of that allows you to create a story around the property.”
Personally, I love stories. And old houses and neighborhoods have stories that simply don’t exist in suburban and new construction. Knowing the story of the house and effectively telling it adds real value to your home.
- “Some key selling points for a historic property, she said, are associated tax incentives…”
If your home is already within a historic district up to 25% of approved work can be recouped. This is significant. If though your home is outside the historic district your home may be individually registered or eligible. Marketing that your home as within a historic district communicates there are higher standards. There are some safeguards that help protect the home and neighborhood from some things that can diminish property values.
There are a number of additional points the presenters tough on. Interesting to note they emphasize how originally intact is the home.
“…be sure to highlight the property’s original elements, Davis said. Is the home’s character still intact? Are the moldings and fixtures original? Has the building been restored, as opposed to remodeled?”
Too often we see a short-sighted rip-n-replace mindset when home maintenance comes into play. This is particularly prevalent among flippers and some residents who don’t fully realize they’re actually degrading their own property. If a potential buyer is interested in an old or historic property in the first place it’s most likely they also have an appreciation for the original fabric of the house. Even if shabby and in need of repair, as long as it still exists restoration is still an option. Once removed though its often cost prohibitive to replace again with the grade of materials that have been removed…. if it’s even available at any price.
Given the current housing situation if you live in an old house the linked article on how to sell old houses is likely good information to have. Wanting to maximize your return on your home though is not unique to a slow housing market and will remain true later when things improve.
Yes, that’s right. We’ve been noticed.
…what we looked for was simple: oft-overlooked neighborhoods populated by people who share an appreciation of finely crafted homes that have plenty of past and lots of future. ~ This Old House
From the state of Wisconsin, Beloit was the one chosen.
This is fantastic news and some measure of validation. There are many in and around Beloit’s Historic Districts that have stated that the revitalization of Beloit has been a bit of an open secret that many outside of town don’t seem to recognize or give credit for. Beloit took its lumps as did many commercial river towns across the U.S. But that was years ago and it has since slowly, grudgingly been undergoing a bit of a renaissance. If you’ve not been to Beloit, its downtown, its renewed riverfront AND historic districts for a while you probably have missed it.
Beloit’s historic districts set the standard though the close-by vintage neighborhoods likewise maintain much of their original charm and character. The fact that there is a first rate college as a neighbor and a thriving downtown both within a short walking distance are significant assets. Historic District residents enjoy proximity to all there is to do in town. You can walk to restaurants, live entertainment, shopping, community events, the many cultural offerings the college makes available to the community and on and on and on. There is a growing and diverse arts and entertainment community. It’s all just a short walk away.
In fact as it happens BIFF, the Beloit International Film Festival, now in its fifth year and gaining national attention is this weekend. Five of the seven venues are downtown and within walking distance.
For those who may have grown up in auto-centric suburbia, they may not appreciate what it affords residents. Pedestrian centric, old-house living in vintage neighborhoods close to a thriving down town offers a quality of life many have not had the opportunity to experience. Historic communities provide a sort of intangible rootedness not found in sprawling suburban planned developments where the closest point of “community” lies many miles away. Retail consists mostly of generic strip malls with interchangeable brands and people you don’t know.
And Beloit has an intriguing history and ancient history. It is filled with colorful characters and events that have shaped not just the community but can be seen rippled across our nation’s history. It’s kinda’ cool living someplace where interesting things have happened. There are stories here. Further, Beloit provides the richness of diversity missing in more homogeneous communities. And for those who appreciate diversity it is a welcomed difference, particularly for our children.
Neighborhood living with neighbors you actually know is a good option not found just anywhere. Speaking for one, having moved here from a broadly diverse college town with a rich cultural and arts community we were hoping to find some of the same here. Indeed this has been the case.
If you’ve an appreciation for distinctive vintage homes within a stable and welcoming vintage neighborhood of like minded old-house lovers you may want to consider Beloit. It’s a good place to make your home.
Thank you This Old House and Preservation Directory.
On a personal note… I’ve been a huge fan of This Old House and have enjoyed the TV show virtually since its inception in the late 70′s with Bob Villa & Norm. This Old House is a big part of why I love old houses today.
Thanks to Marge F. and Sandy K. for their help with this.
Hey Beloit, what do you think of this? Comment below.
Meet LaVaughn Kunny
From: Finley, North Dakota (north of Fargo – it’s very much like the movie)
How long in the neighborhood: 59 yrs. Moved in with Husband Bart in 1950.
Family: Husband Bart passed nine years ago. Three grown children, daughter, daughter, son. Bart was chairman of the biology department at Beloit College.
Occupation: Retired. Taught biology at Aldrich middle school.
- - The Arts League of Beloit – Past president
- - SLU (Society for Learning Unlimited) – Founding member and past president
- - Beloit Historical Society – volunteer
- - Atonement Lutheran Church – member
Why this neighborhood: Bart had accepted a teaching position at Beloit College. Initially they moved into a rental home on the 700 block of Park. They subsequently purchased their home on Church. They moved into the neighborhood because of home values and proximity to work. Also, having studied art and architecture in college LaVaughn loved the character of their distinctive old house.
Best part about living here: LaVaughn loves her home, her neighbors and the neighborhood/community. With her appreciation for architecture and wanting to maintain the unique character of her home, subsequent updates to the home were done with professional architect design. As they entertained frequently they enlarged both the dining room and first floor bathroom.
As for the community, the best part is the diversity she and her family have enjoyed. Her children attended Wright School, Aldrich and BMHS and are the better for having experienced diversity in their education and upbringing. She’s proud of the diverse makeup of her and her children’s friendships.
LaVaughn loves being so close to the college. There is so much made available for the broader community that there is more to do then time to take advantage, and it’s so close. She’s particularly fond of the symphony, Wright and Logan Museums.
Being a retired teacher she enjoys the affection of many former students who still go out of their way to show her their appreciation and friendship. She has lots of stories. Ask her and you’ll get her going.
Aspirations for the neighborhood community: LaVaughn looks forward to ever more cultural diversity in the community. She’s particularly hopeful for more active involvement from Beloit’s Hispanic community.
Meet LaVaughn: “You’ll find me at out for lunch downtown somewhere. Stop and say hello.”
Wow! The level of creativity shown in the carved pumpkins just keeps getting better each year.
We’ve some very creative folks in the community who would seem to have discovered their creative outlet through pumpkin carving. The volunteer pumpkin carvers really got into it. I don’t think the video really does justice to how cool many of them were. Guess you just had to be there.
The creativity seems to have been appreciated as there were hardly any pumpkins left by the end of the evening. A near sell out!
We were fortunate to have great weather and enjoyed a great turn out. Lots of neighbors and friends showed and it was a great chance to hang out and catch up with folks.
The neighbors on Church Street initiated this great event and again outdid themselves. It would not have happened though without the generous help of close friends, relatives and those too slow to duck. I’m reluctant to name names though as I know I’ll forget someone. It’s a great neighborhood though of close and caring neighbors and friends willing to share their time and effort. We raised some money for the park but it’s also just a fun group of folks to hang out with. Thanks to everyone to volunteered.
Also, thank you to our generous sponsors.
Bushel & Peck’s – It’s a great place that keeps getting better and better. Stop by some time for us.
Harris Ace Hardware – Couldn’t be more convenient and the folks there really go out of their way to help you.
Doodles – They’ve got great creativity based programs for the kids. A wonderful opportunity for our community’s kids.
Beloit’s Historic Rasey House
& River Stone Construction
Rasey House: 517 Prospect St. Beloit WI 53511
It’s likely most folks know about Beloit’s historic Rasey House and have visited at one time or another. We finally stopped in for the first time during the Beloit Heritage Days just passed and had a wonderful time talking with the volunteers. It’s an amazing house and and a very special and integral piece of Beloit history. It seems so many of these historic home’s residents and the historic structures themselves factor into the stories of other’s lives and events.
I love good stories. Rasey House has lots.
Its a fascinating piece of local history not simply from the standpoint of historic architecture but also the lives of the figures who made Rasey their home and the intertwining of these stories with other lives and events.
The stories around this relatively unique building construction are very interesting. As you likely know historic river stone constructed buildings are increasing rare as more are being demolished passively due to neglect or intentionally as they’re considered to be in the way of the current purpose.
Rasey house itself on more then one occasion had been threatened with demolition. It’s sad to think if those efforts had been successful. The home, for years now has been lovingly maintained by the Beloit Chapter of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution.
I think Beloit is a better place because Rasey House has survived and the DAR’s stewardship. It is a significant part of what makes Beloit distinctive, anchored and, well… non-generic. It’s part of Beloit’s identity.
The expression is “death by a thousand cuts” meaning that a major single blow did not fell the victim but rather it was little bit by little bit. The single impact of any one or even several events did not cause the demise however, over time, the cumulative result is none the less the same. I understand that at one time Beloit was distinct in the region for the number of river stone building in town. Over thirty as I recall. We are now down to three. It’s too bad.
Beloit’s Rasey Home came to mind as a friend of mine from another historic community, Elgin IL just posted some wonderful pictures of a river stone constructed home in their community. It’s very cool. You can see it here. Love the original rough hewn timber framing and while not original to the house it sports a very early radiator that’s kinda cool.
As long as we’re at it. I understand there are efforts to try and save another Beloit river stone home over on St. Lawrence. Not sure of current status.
View Larger Map
Beloit Historic District Neighborhood Walk
The Beloit Landmarks Commission sponsored several events this year for the Beloit Heritage Days just passed. For a first effort it went very well. We look forward to expanding on this effort for next year.
There was a good turn out for each of the three speaker presentations and the comments from those who attended were very encouraging. Representatives from the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office spoke on
- - Old House Renovation 101
- - Identifying Popular Housing Styles
- - How To Research The History Of Your Home
Additionally they hosted their first historic district neighborhood walk in years. It was very well attended. Learnings will be gathered from this first effort, the guided tour will be refined and later made available for other community occasions. This first year took attendees through the College Park Historic District. Next year the Bluff Street Historic District will be added.
Carved Pumpkin Sale
A Benefit For The Historic Horace White Park!
Saturday Oct 24th. 5:30 pm at the park
Now in it’s 3rd year the neighbors on Church Street have been hosting this popular event to support Horace White Park.
- - Sale begins at 5:30
- - All pumpkins are $5 and reserved on a first-come, first-served basis
- – Pumpkins to remain on display until 7:00 pm at which time you can take your pumpkin home.
The best pumpkins go fast so don’t be late.
(If you’d like to keep the cool little electric light inside… $6/pumpkin w/ light)
Sponsored by: Bushel & Peck’s Local Market
Photos curtesy of Old Onliner.
Rob Baller’s Historic Beloit Photo Essay
Come out and join us for our next Beloit NPA gathering. We think you’ll enjoy it.
If you’ve not seen Rob Baller’s amazing slide presentation of historic Beloit you’ve really missed something. It’s a little difficult to describe. You just have to witness it.
What he’s done is gathered numerous historic Beloit photos. He then researched determine from what exact location the various photos were taken from and then took contemporary photos from the same vantage point. Through various computer aided graphics techniques he’s been able to morph the old photo into the contemporary one. Its really amazing to watch the transformation.
Beyond being thoroughly entertaining it’s both informative and educational as to how our city has evolved over time and what some of the influences were for these changes. It’s sure to evoke a lot of conversation.
- - Date: Monday Sept. 28th
- - Time: 7:00 p.m.
- - Location: Vision Beloit Center – Conference Room (500 Public Ave.)
Ok, ok… so here’s the deal.
To date we’ve intentionally not bothered with membership fees and such as, well frankly we’ve not wanted to have anything that might hinder folks from coming out and joining us. Neither have we wanted to foster any sort of exclusionary aspect to this humble gathering of neighbors. And finally, there’s not really been any need for it, meaning, we’ve not been incurring any real expense beyond what folks have volunteered.
So what’s changed?
We still don’t want “membership” to get in the way. If you’re not a “member” you’re still very much welcome and we hope you’ll come out and join us and meet your neighbors. No bouncers at the door. We do though need to cover an upcoming expense beyond what we’d expect anyone(s) to shoulder themselves.
A few months ago Bob F. graciously worked out our incorporation as well as covered that expense. We’ve since formed our board of directors. And more recently Rick D. and John W. have been quietly preparing our not-for-profit application. While our predecessor, N.E.S.N.A. graciously bequeathed their remaining funds to us we’ve several hundred dollars to make up to cover the expense of NFP filing.
Why this is important?
In order for us to qualify for grant applications and take advantage of myriad other opportunities we need this in place. These in turn will allow us to build out programs and benefits we’d like to make available that we believe would be beneficial to the historic district(s) and surrounding vintage neighborhood. More about this under separate cover and your input is welcome.
Yeah, yeah… So what’s it gonna’ cost me?
We’re painfully aware of the current economic situation. And it would seem every organization, association, club, and worthy cause is asking for your financial help these days. So with that we’re asking folks to pony up just $5 for a year’s membership.
If enough folks participate that should get us where we need to be. If you’re willing/able we’d certainly appreciate your dropping in a few extra $. As you know we’re all volunteers. No one’s getting paid for any of this.
So, where, how do I do this?
On the right side of this page in the navigation you’ll see “SUPPORT BELOIT NPA BY BECOMING A MEMBER”. This is our Paypall account. Just put in $5 or whatever you’d be willing to help with and follow the directions. We’ll record your 1 yr. membership.
Thanks for your support.