There’s nothing like living in a house that has a sense of history. Though modern houses are often cheaper to come by and can be an excellent way to get on the property ladder, there’s nothing like being in a place that has seen countless lives lived within its walls. It connects us to our community and gives a beautiful sense of permanence in an impermanent world.
They aren’t half cold though.
Personally, with the exception of an extraordinarily beige flat in my middle year of university I’ve always lived in a domicile that was at least a hundred years old. I can’t stand what I perceive to be the shoddy workmanship and eggshell-thin walls of a new build. Now, I know I’m being irrational and definitely sentimental but I can’t see myself living anywhere that hasn’t seen out both world wars.
That said, I had become more than accustomed to the warm and the dry. That’s the thing about period houses – they’re glorious places to live but they can be lacking in creature comforts. I used to live in a fantastic 1930s house in Norwich, rented out to me by a children’s book illustrator while he went to France to paint. He left all his original art, antique furniture and Ikea cutlery – it was something of a paradise.
However, every single one of the wood framed windows wept condensation, the bathroom was ridden with mould due to inadequate ventilations and the heating system was so inefficient that it might have been easy just to set fire to the furniture. This is the flip side of living somewhere with ‘character’ – and it can cost an awful lot of time and money to put things right.
You’ll find that the easiest way to make this transition is to attack the two main culprits of period living: the damp and the cold. These twin terrors can be combatted effectively by some smart modernisation, most particularly double glazing. But where to start? Fortunately, I’ve got a handy checklist to get you through the process of making an old home a comfortable one.
Gird your loins regarding cost
Yes, double glazing option is expensive, especially when every window needs replacing but understand this: every winter you go without proper insulation is another winter where you’re paying out untold amounts in gas and electric bills. This is to say nothing of the dull hours with a bleach bottle in hand, trying in vain to scrub the rising damp off the wall. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you install B rated double glazing, you’ll save around £165 a year on energy bills. If you plan to settle down into a long term family home, double glazing actually works out cheaper in the long run and it ensure a cosy night’s sleep for years on end.
Do your research
There are plenty of places to seek out the best deals and talk with other consumers before you commit to a choice. For instance Everest Windows is one of the most reputable and trusted companies out there, specialising in both double glazing and conservatories. This site offers Everest Windows reviews, tips and news stories.
Consider the integrity of your property
Plenty of people would like to get double glazing but are concerned that the stark white plastic of the window frames will adversely affect the aesthetic of their house. And it will. Fortunately, it is possible to get wooden double glazed window framed although these are the more expensive option. However, these wooden frames are just as efficient as the plastic ones as, since 2002, there have been government regulations requiring wooden frames to meet the same thermo-insulation standards as plastic ones. There are also options available for the more difficult-to-fit sash windows that are so often present in period properties.
Make sure you apply for proper planning permission if necessary
If you are lucky enough to live in a listed building then you know how important it is to preserve the original structure and materials of the building. Most councils are supportive of window renovations however, as long as the builders follow certain protocol. It is likely that if you apply for permission to undertake the building work, you will be required to preserve the original glazing and installing secondary glazing. Technology has progressed so far that companies are often able to make glazing that is virtually indistinguishable from the original, with glazing bars as thin as 19mm.
So, it is possible to modernise without compromising on the beauty of your home, as long as you have the long term desire and finance to invest. I can assure you it’s worth it – I exalt you – take off that triple jumper and cardigan combo and start living!
Amanda Wakeman lives in a Georgian house and is very cosy. She writes about home repairs, cookery and thrifty living. She is a total Everest Windows convert.