New Windows for this Old House: Before

THE RAVENNA HOUSE Guys, I'm bummed.  Really, really bummed!  I can't believe I'm saying this, but we've decided to replace the windows in the Ravenna House.

I know.

Old windows are the best.  They're probably my favorite feature in an old house and one of the first things I look for when we're touring a new property.  They are, simply put, beautiful.  And made of solid, long-lasting materials.  And I cannot believe we're going to replace ours.  Argh.

Old Home with Original Windows 1866 via Pinterest

Photo from Circa Old House via Pinterest

That's not my house (did the palm trees give me away?) and those aren't my windows.  But if they were, I wouldn't be replacing them. The Ravenna House's windows are much more dire.

The Grit and Polish - Original Windows Exterior View

Sad, right?

The worst part is that these original windows aren't very functional.  When we bought the house, not a single one of the windows opened (except for the two vinyl windows at the front of the house - a story for another day), and none of them have screens or storm windows.  I've had a half dozen guys out to look at replacing or restoring them.  And the general consensus is, they are in really rough shape.

We've already spent quite a few hours un-sticking a lot of the windows (they were painted shut), pealing paint, and getting them to open.  But it's not a permanent solution.  These windows have not been well cared for.  Much of the caulking around the glass has deteriorated (meaning the glass could fall out), some glass needs replacing, and some of the muntins have rotted.  We've got a to-do list a mile long and learning how to repair double-hung windows just doesn't fit on it.  So I got a few quotes on repairing the windows, and the cheapest I found was $500/window.  And that's before buying screens and storm windows.

`   The Grit and Polish - Exterior Window View The Grit and Polish - Exterior Window Condition 2

I had three contractors bid on replacing the windows.  The first turned out to be the cheapest.  The second gave me two quotes: one for wood and one for vinyl.  The third was in the middle.  We went for the cheapest.  If this was a house we wanted to stay in forever (which is serial-renovator speak for 4+ years), I'd replace them with wood.  But we couldn't justify the added cost here (it was about 50% more).  We wouldn't get back the investment if we sold it or if we rent it.  So vinyl it is.

In the end, we decided to replace the windows rather than repair them.  All things considered, it was cheaper and easier.  Plus there's a rebate from our local utility company which will cover about $1000 of the replacement cost.  We still anticipate shelling out about $7000.  A big huge expense we didn't anticipate, but it's something that has to be done for safety, efficiency, and comfort.  So yes, I'm replacing our 89 year-old windows with plastic ones.  I feel horrible about it.  But I'm pretty sure this is the right solution.



p.s. I love this New York City apartment!

p.p.s. How to save an old estate (and an obituary).

p.p.p.s. I would move to Alabama for this house.