Quickslide’s Adrian Barraclough looks at heritage windows.
My firm was one of the first to realise that millions of homeowners living in Victorian and older properties, fitted with often rotting and badly fitting original timber vertical sliding box sash windows, were sentenced to being cold, damp and insecure in their own homes because of the cost of replacing those windows with new timber ones – and the difficulty of finding someone to do the job even if they had the money.
These homes, an estimated six million terraced and similar properties the length and breadth of Britain, were not listed properties or even located within so-called ‘Conservation Areas’, that compelled owners to match the originals. There simply was no choice. Either replace the original features with modern casements thus ruining the appearance…or make do.
What we did was to make a creditable vertical slider in PVCu and sell it at a price that was highly affordable. That was around 16 years ago and the rest, as they, is history.
The reason that I mention this is that in that time ‘Heritage’ replacement windows have become a serious market and, ironically, these days an extraordinary amount of money is invested every year by replacement window manufacturers to create ever more authentic looking ‘old’ windows. The workings and aesthetic detailing of box sash windows and, more recently, flush sash styles, are pored over and every tiny difference, even the way the frames are joined, is replicated.
Why is this important to you? Well, it is widely perceived that the owners of period, or even mock period, homes are far more interested than the average homeowner, in ensuring that anything they do to their homes is done authentically. These people will have the stripped floors and doors, ‘blacksmith’ handles on their kitchen cupboard doors and period sconces lighting their living room.
They are far more likely to demand lambs tails or run-through horns on the sash for example, or ‘genuine’ mechanical jointing, for which the machines cost tens of thousands of pounds to create on PVCu frames. And colours…perfect Farrow & Ball-matches, of course, and it goes without saying, period handles and catches… the list goes on.
The point I am making is that when you are asked to install or replace windows and doors in such a property, never underestimate the owner’s knowledge of what they want. And, in fact, why not impress them by getting in first, by studying what is available and impressing them with your knowledge and attention to detail.
Any good manufacturer of windows and doors will have studied all of the details and made the investment in time and equipment, to ensure that the replacement Heritage windows that they produce are the most authentic facsimiles possible. And additionally, they will provide you with the means to prove to your customers that these are the very best frames that you can possibly offer them for their beloved period home.
This is a good sector to be in and people’s passion for their homes will encourage them to spend a little more to get exactly what they want. Make sure you buy windows and doors for these projects from people that share that passion.