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
At 524 Bluff Street, Beloit WI 53511, the Lathrop Munn home in the Bluff Street Historic District was built in 1848. It’s not only the oldest home in Beloit, it holds a significant place in Beloit’s history. It’s river stone construction in the Greek Revival style is distinctive and increasingly rare in the region. Additionally the home has benefited by single-family, owner occupied loving care and maintenance for the last thirty years by its former residents.
For a community that once boasted the single largest concentration of river stone constructed homes and commercial buildings in the region totaling over thirty, Beloit is now down to just four. (The Racey house another river stone house) We’d love to see this wonderful historic home continue as an owner-occupied family home in the hands of an appreciative owner.
For Sale By Owner – Historic Beloit WI Home.
- Bedrooms: five (5)
- Full Baths: two (2 – one main floor, one upper)
- Half Baths: none (0)
- Estimated Age: Built in 1848
- Total Assess: $75,600
- Net Taxes: $1,669.90
- Living Room: 13′ x 13′
- Dining Room: 14′ x 13′
- Kitchen: 22′ x 9′
- Family/Rec: 13′ x 13′
- Mstr BedRm: 15′ x 13′
- 2nd BedRm: 16′ x 13′
- 3rd BedRm: 14′ x 10′
- 4th BedRm: 15′ x 13′
- 5th BedRm: 11′ x 9′
School District: Beloit
High: Beloit Memorial
Fireplace: Wood burning/ living room
Garage: 2+ car, detached
Fuel: Natural Gas
Heating: Hot Water
Water/Waste: Municipal water, Municipal sewer
Barrier-Free: Open floor plan, 1st floor BedRm
Notes: Historic 5 bedroom home located on Beloit’s Westside. Beautiful wooden staircase welcomes you ot the warmth and character this home has to offer. Large kitchen with second staircase to upstairs adds charm. Many original features take you back in time. This is a must see property!
To make an appointment to view this home call 608-290-0108
Or email the owners at: jbzamorris(at)aol.com
Additionally, as this home is within the historic district the home owner will be eligible for the Wis State Historic Home Owners 25% Tax Credit on approved upgrades and maintenance. You’re within walking distance of the increasingly vibrant riverfront and downtown.
“The Wisconsin Historical Society’s Division of Historic Preservation (DHP) administers a program of 25-percent state income tax credits for repair and rehabilitation of historic homes in Wisconsin.”
If you’re interested in pursuing the tax credit we’ll (the Beloit NPA) even give you a hand with the application. It’s really not so difficult.
How would you like to get a 25% tax credit on approved home repairs?
Rick D. just forwarded the following article to me about home owners in Madison who are leveraging these tax advantages to “Green” up their homes.
The Wisconsin State Journal – “Keeping Wisconsin history in good shape” on two of the sixteen households in Madison alone that have taken advantage of the program so far this year.
Brent and Lindsey Sainsbury:
… recently outfitted the back roof of their historic University Heights home with 22 photovoltaic (solar) panels….. The historic tax credit allowed me to put up more solar than I would have otherwise.
Richard and Suzanne Linton:
… refreshed the exterior of their Spaight Street Prairie Style house located in the Orton Park Historic District sooner than expected using higher-quality period-color paint thanks to the credit.
About the program:
Credits go for projects costing $10,000 or more on homes deemed historically significant (most are listed on the national or state historic register). The program offers qualified homeowners 25 percent tax credits on approved work.
Read the Wisconsin State Journal Article here.
Get the details on the Wisconsin Historic Homeowners Tax Credit Program here.
Often it is a homes windows that define and distinguish its character. Removing original windows that define a home and give it character for single light replacement windows leaves a home with the all too familiar blank, vacant stare. Bit by bit distinctive homes are being denuded of their character and reduced to irreversible blandness.
See the BRAND NEW Beloit NPA Gallery.
You’ll see the new category page in the top navigation.
You’ll see that in too many instances it is the few remaining original windows that convey the dignity the now humbled home once had.
Windows that are of considerably higher quality made of tight grain old-growth wood, that could be repaired are removed and replaced with windows that typically have a useful life of ~10 years before they fail and need to be replaced again. By this time the purchaser is typically gone.
At that point they would be replaced yet again. Repair is not an option. Recurring revenue for the replacement window industry explains the marketing efforts.
Yes, the warranty states 10-20 yrs. Manufacturers know that the average stay in a home is less then 10 years. The average in Rock Co. is ~5 yrs.
This is why the same windows installed in a commercial building do not carry the same guarantee. That’s because commercial owners on average retain ownership longer then households.
Do you have drafty windows? Consider repair.
- The repair will last as long or longer.
- Repair is dramatically less expensive then replacement. Don’t be fooled by energy savings payback – your break even is further out then the expected life of the window.
- Repair is green. Why send windows that can be repaired to the land fill?
- Double pane insulation? Very little of a windows thermal loss is a result of radiation through the glass. Heat rises. It is mostly a function of air infiltration due to air leaks at the joints and seems. It is drafty. Repairing an old window so that it is no longer drafty is very do-able and relatively inexpensive. A window salesperson will not tell you that. The incremental heat savings resulting from radiation is the least part of the equation.
- But they tilt in for cleaning. OK, check mate. But ask your neighbor who has this feature when the last time they actually did this.
- Additionally, more and more buyers of distinctive old homes recognize and value the character and integrity of original windows. It’s almost always cost prohibitive to return to the quality and character of window that was removed by a prior owner. Once they’re gone there’s virtually no going back.
There’s a lot of money to be made by manufacturers, retailers and installers convincing historic home owners with repairable windows that they need to buy new replacement grade windows that in time need to be purchased yet again. Don’t get snookered.
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
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
And we’ll be welcoming some new neighbors!
Just heard yesterday that the Preserve Beloit home at 617 Harrison has sold and folks are moving in!
This is great news from multiple perspectives. If you don’t know the story this was a “problem” house on the block. At one time perhaps even the worst on the block. It was in bad shape and there were those who wanted to see it demolished. Who knows what we could have ended up with as far as infill?
Thankfully Preserve Beloit LLC (a Hendricks co.) in partnership with the First National Bank & Trust Co. were willing to invest in our neighborhood and turn this house around. Virtually all of the original woodwork, doors and trim was saved and restored making for beautiful interiors and classic period charm. Thank you to Preserve Beloit LLC and First National Bank & Trust Co. for having the sensitivity not to gut it and engage in wholesale rip-n-replace.
We’ve been inside this home and they’ve done a wonderful job for the new home owners. Importantly, they’ve also done us all a favor having provided a wonderful service to the neighborhood and Beloit’s historic district. They took on a tough project any individual “flipper” would have either avoided or done with considerably lower standards IMO.
THANK YOU to Preserve Beloit LLC and First National Bank & Trust Co. You’re great Neighbors to have.
Historic Home Owener’s Tax Credit
Have you heard about the “Historic Home Owner’s Tax Credit” program?
Interested to know what its about and how to take advantage of this significant benefit?
What if you could get a tax break on projects such as (but not limited to)…
- - Work on the exterior of your house, such as roof replacement and painting, but not including site work such as driveways and landscaping
- - Electrical wiring, not including electrical fixtures
- - Plumbing, not including plumbing fixtures
- - Mechanical systems, such as furnaces, air conditioning, and water heaters
- - Structural work, such as jacking up floors
Well, this month we’ be talking about tax benefits for those living within Beloit’s historic districts or individually landmarked homes. If you don’t live within the boundaries of the historic district you may be eligible to apply. If you’re not sure if you live within the gerrymandered borders of the districts we’ll help you find out if you are.
Joe DeRose from the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Offices will be joining us to discuss what the tax advantages are, whats involved in taking advantage of these significant benefits as well as how to apply. Additionally, we hope to have some neighbors on hand who’ve actually taken advantage of this program.
We’re meeting this next Monday evening, June 22nd. 6:30 at bushel & pecks. (328 State St.)
From the onset when there were first discussions about forming a neighborhood association for Beloit’s Historic Districts various people asked, “Have you met with Neighborhood Housing Services?”. Not having yet done so it was suggested that we should. So… here we go!
This is an informal gathering where we simply hope to get to know a bit more about each other, priorities, objectives and such. I imagine there are things we may be able to assist, support or encourage. There may be activities or programs those living within Beloit’s Historic Districts may be able to take advantage of. Don’t know. Will see. It all begins though with some discussion and this is as good a time as any to begin.
So, if you’re not familiar with Neighborhood Housing Services, or even if you are, we’d encourage you to come out and meet with them and us to learn more.
When: Tuesday May 26th, 6:30 p.m. (note date change due to holiday)
Where: bushel & peck’s – 328 State Street, Beloit WI
There is a lot of misunderstanding about “Historic Districts” or individually designated home and what it means to live in one.
- (1) Why would anyone want to live in an Historic District?
- (2) What does it mean to live in an Historic District?
- (3) Who does what?
- * The City
- * The Landmarks Commission
- * The Historical Society
- * The State Historic Preservation Office
- * The National Register (National Park Service)
- (4) What am I supposed to do if I live in a Beloit Historic District or individually designated home?
- * What can and can’t I do with my own %@$# property?
- * What if I have a question?
- (5) What’s in it for me? Again, why would anyone want to live in an Historic District?
The resulting F.U.D. (fear, uncertainly & doubt) around these items and perhaps others can lead to needless frustration, a wastes of your time and needless expense. The best way to deal with all this is improved communication.
The city, the Landmarks Commission, state & national offices all need to make reasonable efforts to try and inform and communicate with property owners. This is a shared responsibility though. Property owners likewise owe it to themselves to inquire and/or otherwise try to inform themselves. Improving communication is the key.
To this end on this NPA neighborhood association blog we can try to cover these bases. Proposed, the best place to start is with the “why”. What’s in it for me?
There are many things that could be touched on but lets start with two benefits that likely most would have an appreciation for.
- (1) It’s good for your property values.
- (2) You’re eligible for various incentives or benefits.
(1) Property Values: The city of Rockford completed a study last year in 08′ titled: The impact of Historic District Designation on Property Values. You can read more about that study here.
(2) Incentives / Benefits: We will be hosting a meeting with Joe DeRosa from the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Offices for our June 22nd regular meeting. We’ll be discussing specifically what it means to live within an Historic District, what state and/or federal programs are available to you. We’ve also invited neighbors who’ve personally taken advantage of some of these programs to talk about their experiences. More on this will be posted as we near that meeting date.