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
- Date: April 30, May 1, 2 2010
- Time: 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
- Presented by: Bob Yapp
- Location: The Belvedere School for Hands-On Preservation, Hannibal MO
- Cost: $300
While available elsewhere across the country and regionally we don’t currently have any preservation trades education available here in WI… that I’m aware of. Bob Yapp, publisher, radio show host, consultant and founder/director of the Belvedere School is a recognized authority in historic preservation and related trades. The Belvedere school offers a range of hands-on trades education. It’s located less than six hours away and is incredibly reasonably priced at ONLY $300… for three full days of training. I think that’s incredible.
From Bob’s course description:
Window Restoration College is a fun and intense, three-day, hands-on learning experience. Students will learn cost-effective & energy efficient restoration of original, double-hung, wood windows. You will be part of a team restoring the original 150-year old windows in the historic Lamb-Munger Mansion in the Central Park National Historic District in Hannibal, Missouri.
This is a tuition-based class with a limit of 12 students. You will be working side- by-side all three days with instructor Bob Yapp. Bob is nationally recognized as one of the top experts in window restoration and has restored over 5,000 windows in his 35-year career.
This will be an intense, learn-by-doing opportunity. You will learn sash removal, safe paint & glass removal, epoxy wood repair, glazing putty application, weather stripping, re-roping & sash installation. At the end of the three days you will know from beginning to end, how to completely and cost effectively restore a double-hung window & receive a “Certificate of Completion”.
Homeowners, small contractors, preservation staff, preservation commission members, hp students and historic building owners will all benefit from this hands-on, traditional training event. All skill levels are encouraged to sign up.
Tuition for this three-day workshop is $300 and includes beverages and lunch. Space is limited to twelve students in each session and pre-registration is required Classes fill up quickly so be sure to get your tuition & registration in as soon as possible.
Inexpensive motels as well as bed & breakfast inns are available for out of town students. For more information or to pre-register call Bob Yapp, 217-474-6052 or email him, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.bobyapp.com
Where: Bushel & Peck’s (328 State Street, Beloit)
Presentation by: Charles Rydberg
President of Beloit based Murmac Paint Company(310 Park Ave. Beloit)
Charles was instrumental in designing the Beloit “College Park Historic Colors” brochure. This publication guided the pallet of colors used on all the historic homes owned by the college. Charles also helped author the Janesville Historic Preservation Ordinance and also served as Chair for their first Historic Preservation Commission.
Perhaps like “white noise” in the background that goes unnoticed the same can be said for the pallet of colors within many neighborhoods. You’ve likely experienced this, I know I have. You’re driving through a neighborhood and all of a sudden you see a house that just pops. Sometimes the colors are dramatic but not always. Sometimes they’re subtle but somehow the home is striking. At least for me it’s usually not even fully clear why. The colors just seem to harmonize and “Click” together.
Driving around old neighborhoods there are fewer and fewer of the big old houses clad in all white. Even the old-timers recall them as always being white and thought white was the authentic non-color of old houses or perhaps just a low maintenance option. In fact these previously colorful homes were changed to all white as a style trend made popular following the Chicago’s Columbian Exposition “White City” in 1893.
Further, the proliferation of artificial siding has made monochrome still more old houses that originally sported varied siding textures, banding, colors, shades and shadows. Have you ever driven by one of those big ol’ aluminum or vinyl sided “Victorians” and wondered what was underneath? This mystery and discovery is part of the fascination surrounding “Great Unveilings” that have become more and more popular in some vintage neighborhoods.
Even if you have a brick home do you know how to harmonize with the shade of brick and roof color? Simply selecting colors that seem to go together from the swatches or booklets at the paint store may add up to a lot of time and money spent on results that just don’t seem to work like you’d hoped. Or worse once it’s up and done… you “settle”. Eh, it’s ok.
For all the time, effort and investment spent wouldn’t you rather have one of those houses that when you’re done the colors Popped?
Mark your calendar. Hope you can join us!
I received the following from Bob Yapp, preservation consultant, director of the Belvedere School in Hannibal MO.
Our colleague, Donovan Rypkema put the attached analysis of jobs created by the “stimulus” package as compared to the jobs created by “Save America’s Treasures”. As many of you know, the Obama administration is seeking to eliminate this highly successful federal grant program.
Not only do they want to eliminate SAT but all of the tax breaks for homeowner energy efficiency are patently anti-preservation. Ripping out original windows and replacing them with less energy efficient windows with an average lifespan of 15 years could ruin our historic housing in a big way. In all of the federal programs not one cent has gone to heritage or preservation. Most of the other European countries as well as Australia have put stimulus money into these areas and are creating more jobs for less money.
Donovan’s chart is breathtaking. It demonstrates that preservation doesn’t cost–it pays!
~Bob Yapp, founder/director The Belevedere School, Hannibal MO.
Click above for the full report. It would seem to indicate that in WI historic preservation funded projects have cost $19K/full-time job created vs $286K/full-time job created resulting from the Stimulus Plan.
Stimulus Expenditure by state and jobs by state from White House website, as of February 10, 2010 update. Accessed 2/11/10. The last page of the report breaks out how analysis conducted.
Honestly I’d not heard of Donovan Rypkema before so found this…
LOL, A little impassioned and provocative but consider the points he’s trying to make.
So, ok. We’ve been through the Cash for Clunkers program. Stay tuned for…
Cash For Caulkers
Or… leveraging economic stimulus funding for old house home owners.
I received the following from Adrian Fine who is a director at the Center for State and Local Policy at the National Trust. It would seem that historic home owners may be misinformed about ineligibility of storm windows for tax credit. Not surprisingly, it is usually a window replacement contractor who tells them this.
So here’s the deal….
Question: Do storm windows/doors qualify for the $1,500 tax credit.
Despite some confusion and misleading information, storm windows and doors do qualify for the tax credit. This chart from the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Star clearly lists storm windows/doors as eligible products for the tax credit.
Question: Are all storm windows/doors eligible?
As stated earlier, the 2009/2010 provisions established a higher standard than in 2007 and all eligible storm windows/doors (purchased from June 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010) must have a U-value of 0.30 or lower and solar heat gain coefficient of 0.30 or lower. Here’s where the main problem lies regarding questions on eligibility. While it is common for new windows to offer specific qualifications regarding performance, it is a difficult to assess for storm windows/doors. Measuring the U-value and solar heat gain of storm windows/doors depends on the performance of the existing window in combination with a storm window, which will always be a case-by-case basis. This can only be tested after storm windows/doors are installed and will vary greatly from building to building.
While some storm window/door manufacturers are marketing their products in conjunction with the tax credit, others are not because the performance standard is difficult to substantiate for all cases. Some are listing classes of exterior windows (single pane, clear glass, double pane, low-E coating, etc.) that a product may be combined with to be eligible in specific climate zones (for a map, go to http://resourcecenter.pnl.gov/cocoon/morf/ResourceCenter/dbimages/full/973.jpg).
Question: What do I need to claim the tax credit?
Answer: Manufacturer’s Certification Statement
A Manufacturer’s Certification Statement is a signed statement from the manufacturer certifying that the product or component qualifies for the tax credit. Taxpayers must keep a copy of the certification statement for their records, but do not have to submit a copy with their tax return. Some manufacturers are providing these Certificates on their website. Other manufacturers are not, taking a more conservation approach and not issuing these certificates since it’s difficult to substantiate on a case-by-case basis. Though there are others, two storm window/door manufacturers that do provide certificates are Gorell (http://www.gorell.com/pages/energy_tax_incentive_act.htm) and Kaufmann (http://www.kaufmannwindow.com/2009energytaxcredit.htm).
As always, please check with your tax advisor for advice.
**Also, for more information on the stimulus funding, and constantly-expanding case studies, check out the Perfect Storm webpage(s) on PreservationNation
For more information visit the National Trust website > The Perfect Storm
Or contact Adrian directly at: Adrian_Fine@nthp.org
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
Old House Unveilings – What a concept!
While I’ve blogged on the concept before it’s likely a completely foreign concept to many people. Perhaps most.
I’ve talked about communities like Elgin Illinois where they’ve been doing this for years. I’ve mentioned Rock Island Ill too, where Elgin got the idea from and where they’ve been doing this for about 17 years now. They’ve gotten to the point where they don’t do it so much any more as they’re running out of candidate home to unveil.
I just heard about an old house unveiling in another community, Hannibal Mo, home of Mark Twain, population ~ 17k.
What’s an old house unveiling? It has some similarities to an old fashioned barn raising whereby neighbors and the community come together to uncover an old house that’s been cloaked for years by unoriginal siding.
This example in Hannibal MO while recently uncovered is still incomplete in its restoration. All the same you can see where this is going. And you can likely see the potential the owners are striving to regain.
I would imagine that such an undertaking and the fear of the unknown would give most people pause. Quoting Bob Yapp, historic preservation consultant…
Which is not to say there’s not a lot of work to be done. More, that it’s not as scary as you might imagine and not more then a motivated home owner with some vision (and some wallet) can manage. As far as wallet goes though, such an undertaking is not without its benefits. Again as Mr. Yapp was told on his TV show, “About Your House with Bob Yapp”…
I imagine some might see this as counter intuitive. And again Mr. Yapp on Old House Unveilings...
Indeed there have been some individuals who’ve uncovered their homes here in Beloit. With a little encouragement and community support perhaps there may be more. Not only is the change dramatic for the individual home. It can likewise be a catalyst for that street. The neighborhood benefits which is why the community turns out.
- - Old House unveiling in Rock Island IL.
- - Old House unveiling in Elgin IL.
- - Old House unveiling in Hannibal MO. (click on photos to enlarge)
Ana and I had a chance to meet with the “Neighbors Who Care” folks last week over at the NHS offices on Grand. Among the items talked about were homes that originally had been built as single family homes that had been divided up into multi-family units. As many folks may know the city is trying to coax property owners into returning some of these homes back to single-family use.
When I asked how well this was going from the perspective of those in attendance the impression I was left with was that progress has been slow with few homes actually being returned to single family occupancy. Compliance is difficult, particularly with a reluctant owner or occupants as you’d imagine. It was interesting then that just a few days following this we had the opportunity to meet a young family who’s doing just this!
We’d heard from a friend that a young family had moved into 239 St. Lawrence and was in the process of “Unduplexing” the home that had been carved up into four units. Wow! I’ve long admired this distinctive limestone home. You can tell that when built it must have been a very grand home for the area. Not only is it included in the Bluff Street historic district but it’s on the short list identified as a “Pivotal”. Indeed, it is a very cool house. Well, Zack & Terry were brave enough to take on this project house. They moved in from another Beloit neighborhood and are familiar with old-house living.
It’ll be work ahead no doubt but the home looks to have great potential for rehab and improved property value. I think it’ll be a win for them. I already know their having moved in is a win for the neighborhood.
The early movers (pioneers) buying into distinctive neighborhoods assume the greater risk but also reap the greater reward. As more pioneers discover and move in the neighborhood gets better and values improve. It’s bumpy, it doesnt always happen for sure but there are a number of historic neighborhoods and grand homes I wish I’d invested in if I knew then…
There are some amazing homes around town that sadly have been duplexed. We could use some more Zack-n-Terrys. If you see them be sure to say hi and welcome them.
Had an exceptional “Old House” day today.
A couple months ago we attended a conference in Madison for Historic Preservation Commissioners, in the case of Beloit it’s the “Landmarks Commission”. There we had the opportunity to meet folks likewise involved in other communities across WI. Among those we met was Rick Fletcher who chairs the Janesville Historic Preservation Commission. Rick provides guided walking tours of various historic areas around Janesville. Today we had the good fortune to attend Rick’s tour of the “Old 4th Ward”. It was WONDERFUL!
There were ~70 people in attendance following Rick around getting some insight into Janesville history as well as period architecture. We finished up with being invited, all 70+ of us into the fine home of one of the residents. It was a -very- cool house.
While there we were reminded that today was the Janesville Garden Walk. While sponsored by and for the Rotary Garden it consisted of eight residential gardens, five of which were in the “Courthouse Hill” historic district. Keep an eye out for this next year and go. It was… amazing!
To cap it all off, being “Old House” home owners and enthusiasts ourselves we really enjoy meeting and talking with others who share this interest. We had a chance to meet several homeowners in the Courthouse Hill historic district. Big fun.
Now, Janesville’s historic district house walk is coming up in August. I forget the date but will be broadcasting it here. We went last year and it was very enjoyable and we’ll be attending this year as well. It might be fun to get a group together to attend. Lemme’ know if you’d be interested or simply comment below.
~Rick M rick@BeloitNPA (dot) org
Our last meeting on “Historic Home Owners Tax Credits” was very interesting and well attended. Joe DeRose from the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office clarified a lot of questions for us about how the program works and how best to take advantage of it. It would seem to be a largely forgotten or otherwise not taken advantage of here in Beloit. There have been no applications submitted in years from Beloit. We’re fortunate in that not all states have this benefit available to home owners.
This Old House recently announced their “Best Places To Buy An Old House In America“. Unfortunately we didn’t make the cut. Reviewing the winners, it was interesting that several neighborhoods cited availability of their states tax credit program among the benefits of living there.
By way of overview…
- - It is a 25% Wisconsin state income tax “credit”. Not federal tax, not property tax, not a “deduction”.
- - For example, you spend $10K combined on one or more projects, you get credited back $2,500. If you cannot use the full credit in a given year, you can carry the unused credit into the following years until you use it up.
- - There is a $10K minimum investment. This can however be spread over multiple projects and up to five years. Additionally, you’re not limited to one application. if have ambitious plans and want begin using taking the credits prior to all the projects being completed you can break it up into multiple applications, so long as these still equal >$10K each.
- - If you live within one of Beloit’s historic districts or individually listed homes you’re eligible to apply. If you do not you may still be eligible to apply.
- - There are specifics on what sorts of projects are approved and strings attached are mostly with regard to meeting “secretary of the interior standards for rehabilitation”.
- - Your project(s) need to be approved before any work is begun otherwise your application is void.
Important. You’ll need to confirm the above and your understanding. The above is to the best of my understanding.
Additionally, if you’ve questions you may contact Joe DeRose at Joe.DeRose@wisconsinhistory.org You can also contact Joe for some guidance prior to going through the application.
Personally, I wish we had applied when we moved in years ago. I suspect we could have received credit for many of the things we’ve already payed for. We’re in the process of doing so now though. Perhaps I’ll record how it goes for us here.