Buying Replacement Windows For Older Homes: What You Should Know

Buying Replacement Windows For Older Homes: What You Should Know

Purchasing replacement windows for older and historic homes is a little tougher than just searching through a window buying guide to select the style you like. You need to take historic authenticity into consideration since you are basically replacing one or more pieces of history with this project.

The biggest challenge with replacing the windows is that you’re often dealing with a very specific aesthetic that must be emulated right down to the smallest detail. On the other hand, replacement windows can get expensive, so limiting your options to just one or two specific choices, all in the hopes of maintaining the home’s historical integrity, might make the project even tougher to complete.

This is why you need to discuss the current windows in your home with a Cape Cod bay window installer, for the purposes of considering whether you need to replace the windows outright or if a repair is the way to go.

Historic Authenticity

So you’re not exactly wowed by the present state of your home’s windows but you are very limited as to the number of options you have for purchasing replacements. The reason being that the town or district in which you reside has very strict regulations for the renovation of older and historic homes.

The limitations on your replacement options can be rather onerous to the point of finding yourself faced with a dearth of choices. Many historical societies mandate that any replacements being made to an old, historic home may only contain materials that were available at the time that home was built.

Unfortunately, the older the home, the more likely your options will be severely limited. Since we’re talking about replacement windows, that means you can’t go with anything that uses plastic or composite components. Doing so would ruin the historic authenticity of the house and that would violate local regulations that pertain to the care and maintenance of historic landmarks.

So before you have one nail removed from your home, be sure to carefully examine your city or district’s local historical society mandates so that you can properly preserve the original appearance of the home and you won’t be facing strict fines as a result of non-compliance.

It’s not always about the materials either your new windows will need to have the same pane pattern and identical hardware or else you could be violating local historic ordinances to the tune of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Repair or Replacement?

One thing every smart homeowner does at the start of any major home improvement project is crunch the numbers. No one takes on a large renovation without budgeting it all out first. Replacing your older home’s failing windows is no exception and while you may already be well aware that failing to comply with local historical society statutes could cost you a pretty penny, you may also be worried about how much compliance might set you back financially.

So now is the time to think about whether your windows truly need to be replaced or if you can repair them successfully at a lower cost.

That will require you to carefully consider the state of your current windows along a specific set of criteria.


Windows that have sustained any amount of damage will need to be addressed immediately. But not all damage is the same and some windows may simply require a few repairs instead of a total replacement.

So think long and hard about the damage your windows exhibit at the moment. Are there broken panes? Do they open and close properly and without much strenuous effort? Have they deteriorated to the point where the frames have shifted and allowed gaps to open up in the seams?

All of these are examples of substantial damage and depending on how bad your windows look, you may not be able to repair the problems that exist.

Energy Costs

Windows that are in disrepair can cost more to keep in your home over the long term due to the increases in your energy costs. When old windows get drafty, they become less efficient and your heating and cooling bills can go up. Often times, repairs are ineffective for solving these issues and the money you spend on replacing the windows is actually cheaper than continuing to pay exorbitant energy bills from month to month.

Parts and Labor

Finally, replacing your old windows can be less expensive in both time and money than repairing your old windows because the parts needed for a repair may be almost impossible to find and cost a lot to purchase if and when you finally do. You should weigh these options when making your decision because trying to find original parts to windows that were installed over half a century ago may be a fool’s errand and one that could ultimately take more money out of your pocket.