Getting like for like replacement windows can be a real pain, and it is increasingly becoming incredibly hard to find a company that can actually provide the service. Years ago it was far simpler to get your oak windows replaced with exact replicas. There was a wealth of companies that would provide the service, but nowadays, with so many window installers and manufacturers have moved on to producing uPVC windows, the trade is dying out pretty fast.
This is a shame because uPVC, as we all know, doesn’t offer nearly the same quality as timber like oak does. Aesthetically speaking, there is nothing at all about plastic frames which is appealing to the eye; they don’t add any value to the property and offer really nothing in terms of benefit apart from cheapness. That’s not to even mention the fact that their manufacturing process is terrible for the environment and is completely unsustainable!
It’s a sad fact that, like a lot of the products sold in the modern world, we have sacrificed beauty, craftsmanship and the environment for the sake of saving a little money. Whereas there are products out there, like oak and other timber, which are completely sustainable and pleasing to the eye!
Producing Like For Like Replacement Timber Frames
Of course, it’s not just that there is a wealth of uPVC on the market, but also the fact that creating like for like replacements is a particularly tricky job. In order to achieve the best results, you must find wood of similar properties, which can be pretty tricky in certain buildings.
In most cases when we are creating replacements, we will try instead to utilise higher quality raw materials so that we can ensure a greater longevity in our products with better acoustic and thermal insulation. In this regard we will always update the glass too, though with windows that incorporate earlier forms of float glass, this may not be possible due to the constraints of planning permission in conservation areas.
Replica window frames also often call for different manufacturing techniques from their modern day iterations. Often period properties contain windows whose aesthetic appeal has derived from the particular way it was crafted, which means that you need to pay very close attention to how you work with the wood as well as the kinds of finishes you apply to it - as often the exact colour must be replicated with planning permission.
So if you’re thinking about getting replacement replica oak window frames for your property, make sure you have checked with the LPA to see what the constraints of window replacement are, in order to avoid a headache down the road!
It's that dreaded term. Planning permission. It strikes fear into the hearts of property developers and runs cold down the spine of home owners looking to really make their property feel like their home. It can spell months of red tape, countless meetings, headaches and shattered dreams.
But that's only if it's approached all wrong. Following our guide to planning permission, you will find that it's not as daunting a prospect as some would make you believe (or indeed our first paragraph did!).
So what do you need to know about planning permission?
Well, the first step is to figure out whether you will even need it at all. Your Local Planning Authority (LPA) consider the following three basic factors requisite of permission in most cases:
- A new build
- Major structural changes (extensions, loft conversions, etc.)
- A change in the use of the property (i.e. from a private property to a commercial one)
Each of these will be interpreted by your LPA in a different way, so the kind of permissions that you will require and assessments you will have to go through, will vary from case to case. For the most part industrial properties won't require planning permission from their LPA, though most changes to these sorts of premises will almost certainly require permissions from separate departments. The same goes for the demolition of buildings, although your local authority will have to approve of this separately too...
One type of property that avoids a lot of red tape are buildings of significance and beneficence of the local community. These sorts of properties will often be walked around the traditional routes of planning permission, and instead be fast tracked through schemes like the Community Right To Build.
What are the assessment criteria for planning permission?
The LPA take into account many factors when deciding whether you can make changes to your property. The following is a basic list of the sorts of things that they consider, though they are pretty vague, with each council likely to stipulate different rules for each variable.
- The size of the property
- Citing and appearance of the premises
- Local landscaping and how the works on your property will affect them
- The reason why you are undertaking the development. (turning your house into a pub in a terraced street might not pass through this one!)
- The effect on the local way of life, including the change of natural vistas, or a slowing down of local traffic.
This should give you an idea of what you can expect before you file for planning permission, though of course each council will treat these factors differently, and each build will affect the local environment in its own way!
Most applications are returns (either passed or failed) within 8-13 weeks. If you fail first time you can always reapply having altered your plans, so it's not game over at the first hurdle. However, it's most advisable for you to send off your application a long way in advance of your planned work as you don't want to get caught up in bureaucracy and end up disappointed!
Image by Will Scullin
Quite simply a casement window is an window where the opening part is hinged, most commonly along the internal vertical frame. However, there are so many different kinds that we can find dotted throughout British properties, varied because of the heritage status of a building; the time the windows were installed and where they are located!
It all started back in the latter half of the 18th century, when the stone mullioned window fell out of fashion. Though seen nowadays as a touch of class, stone mullioned windows weren't very adaptable, and in many cases, couldn't open to let in much air. Their stone struts further prevented a great deal of light getting in, and with the housing industry growing, people started wanting something a little more refined.
So along came the hinged window. Small panes of glass separated by thinner glazing bars, the casement style window allowed for a lot more light to enter the property, was less heavy and easier to construct.
As time went on Crown Glass and cylinder sheet became more widely available, replacing the smaller panes of broad sheet. These larger sheets of glass often came with imperfections from the manufacturing process, which at the time were a bit of a blight on the consumer, but nowadays are seen to be a touch of timeless history that new, imperfect glasses can't offer.
Very early casement windows were mostly constructed using iron, with lead used as lattice work across the glass. Over time, this fashion died out and manufacturers started transitioning to timber construction. It was during the Victorian period that we eventually saw a full conversion to using timber, with oak becoming the highly preferred wood type.
For well over a century the casement window remained in its original form, with a structure of six rectangular panes. However as architecture changed, so too did the casement. With the dawning of the Gothic age in the nineteenth century, we saw a shift towards incorporating the instantly recognisable Gothic arch in the uppermost panes, for example.
As the quality of glass available became a lot better, the need for so many sheets and glazing bars became redundant. In the later half of 19th century, we see a lot of casement windows that feature only two panes in each half, with one bar strapped along the middle.
Then, as space in the big cities became more of concern, and we started seeing the town houses that still line our streets today, being erected, the sash window started taking over. Rather than caring about the character, dynamism and beauty of casement windows, with their intricate and varied designs, people wanted a window that was more efficient and ergonomic.
Though we do see properties being installed with casement windows nowadays, a lot of our work is down to replacing or repairing casements in listed properties, where the architectural style of the original needs to be exactly matched. A truly wonderful style of window, that can offer the designer a great deal in the way of inspiration, we hope to see a revival of the casement window in the near future!
Image by Roland Tanglao
We often get many clients coming to us looking for new windows to match their property. They've decided that they need to update their current frames, but have no idea what they want at all. They turn to us and say, “should I get sash or casement windows?” and, well, it's hard to say really.
Both designs offer similar energy saving and noise reduction properties, and a lot of it comes down to the kind of aesthetic you would like. In some cases, the structure of the property will influence the decision, but there is no golden rule to fit all.
So we thought we would give you an outline of their properties, so you can decide for yourself which you think are the best for your home.
These are the kind that swing in or out like a door, and can either be hinged on the sides or on the top or bottom. In most cases these windows will require a large sill area to facilitate their use, with many narrow town houses unable to accommodate their structure. Those that can, however, get the benefit of being able to fully open their windows, which can attract 'side-breezes' into your property.
It is possible to get windows that will be fit into a sill-less property, though these are most likely to be bottom or top hung as opposed to being hinged on the sides.
In properties that do offer large sill areas, they definitely suit the aesthetic a lot more than sash windows do. That's the beauty of casement, it's a dynamic structure that can really add a depth to a room. It's also true that generally casement windows can come in fancier designs due to the fact that they are aren't restricted by their mechanism like sash windows are.
A drawback is that they can look a little dated. Casement windows were very popular in the last century and became almost ubiquitous, however recently we have seen a change in popularity back to sash frames. That said, our casement windows come in modern design and can really compliment a more contemporary property.
Well, pretty much opposite of the above. Sash windows are a great system that maximises space. They don't require large sills at all, meaning that those properties in inner cities that are lacking space will often benefit a great deal more from sash installation.
In the British climate, they also give you the option to open them only slightly, allowing in a breeze whilst keeping out any excess rain. Their design also means that by and large they are less susceptible to distortion due to the fact that they are encased within a box.
Whilst their popularity is on the rise, they also suffer from certain drawbacks, like being less secure; and more prone to drafts and rattling. However, with our designs and other modern advancements in technology, these issues are pretty much part of the past.
Replacing any window system in your property is a big job, but moving changing from casement to sash, or visa versa, is a bigger job than most. This is because rather than being able to retrofit the new windows within pre-existing frames, the old window unit will need to be removed completely and replaced entirely.
This has its benefits and its disadvantages, and there are certain factors that need to be considered before you go ahead and order a new set of windows.
When going from sash to casement, or the other way round, you will greatly alter the façade of your building. This can require planning permission, especially in a listed building or a property in a conservation area. So before you get started, you definitely ought to check to see whether you need to get the Local Authority's go-ahead.
So what do you need to consider when you want to replace your casement windows with sash?
The most obvious is aesthetic. Sash was the go-to design of the 18th and 19th centuries and found everywhere in the Victorian times. As with most things, their popularity died out in the last century, with many home owners opting to install casement windows between the 60's and the 90's.
However, we are now seeing a cultural revival of sash windows which better suit period properties, and can really enhance the way that your property looks. That said, casement windows generally come in more ornate designs which can further impact the individual look of your building.
Another thing to consider is expense and time. Properties which were designed to house sash windows generally have different architectural layouts compared to those that were designed for the installation of casement fittings.
This means that when replacing one design with the other, the designers and installation team will need to consider how the windows will fit into your property. As such, replacements of this type often require bespoke designs to get the best results. This will cost more than your average like for like replacement, but will give your property a real aesthetic boost.
Whilst all of our windows will provide sterling energy efficiency, it is worth noting that the design of casement windows does make them intrinsically more energy efficient and more secure. They will also offer greater ventilation as they open far wider than Sash designs, however the sash's fixed slider means that you can keep the window open just a crack, securely, in order to let a gentle flow of air into your property.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to each window design, but the choice fundamentally comes down to what you want your property to look like. Just remember to speak to the local authority before you start ordering up replacement windows!
Image by B.C. Angell
We're often asked why we have focused on using oak in our window design, when uPVC has become the nation's preferred material for window frame design. So we thought we would give you a little break down of the differences in order to understand why we love and champion oak so strongly.
- A sustainable, green material
- Extremely resistant to insect and fungal attack
- Excellent strength and hardness
- Intricate and stunning aesthetic appeal from naturally grown wood, available in a wealth of designs.
- Easy to work with
- Easily recyclable
- Easy to mass produce
- Weather proof, and resistant to damp
- Very durable and unlikely to corrode or need replacing
- More expensive due to the initial costs, but over the longer lifespan of the oak windows it is cheaper.
- More labour intensive to produce finished products
- Can require maintenance
- Its production causes a great deal of toxic bi-products
- uPVC is created using unsustainable resources
- Will discolour overtime
- Difficult to un-install and recycle
- Poor aesthetic appeal and limited designs available
Whilst you will find many resources claiming that the problems with using oak are manifold and include the wood warping, or movement across the grain (swelling) and cracking, these issues rarely occur in modern window design. Through the use of multilayered hardwood and extended-life finishes, those concerns can be allayed.
Fundamentally the difference comes down to price – with oak windows you are paying for a highly tailored, beautiful product that will not only safeguard against weather and reduce costs in heating, but do it in style. With uPVC you are paying less for window frames that will work, but also for a product that is harmful to the environment, unsustainable and quite frankly unappealing.
image by Daveybot