Remind Me Again Why This Is

I can’t remember if we ever got a definitive answer on this phenomenon – this house is obviously very well taken care of but you can see that some of the windows have been bricked over. Why is this? Is there some regulation that a house can only have a certain number of windows? For some reason I’m feeling like that might be the answer. If that is the answer, how many windows can a home have?

22 Comment

  • That’s where he locks up his wives.

  • Did property taxes back in the day used to get calculated by the number of windows you had?

  • Do people who live in glass houses have windows?

  • i’m not certain, but i think a house’s walls can only have a certain percentage of square footage as glass/windows. at least that’s what HGTV told me once 🙂

    • I think that’s the case in some jurisdictions, but it’s to do with the fire code. You can only have so many windows facing a neighboring building to prevent fires from spreading.

  • I’ve built several houses in the city and I’ve never heard of any restrictions on the amount of windows that are allowed in DC. I have two another theory-they renovated the house at some point and now there is either a shower or kitchen in that space so they had to block it off.

    • ah

      This seems like the best explanation.

      As to a limit on windows, there’s currently no legal limit. There may be structural limits as a practical matter, but putting bricks into the window frame isn’t likely to solve that problem. They’re not really adding any structural support.

  • No window limit. England taxed windows until 1851 and France until 1926. Some say it contributed to the severity of the bubonic plague.

    To my knowledge, the only building codes related to window area set minimums, not maximums. Bedrooms must have a total glazed area of at least 8% of the amount of the floor area. Egress windows must have 5.71 square feet of clear opening.

    That said, LEED and other energy efficiency guidelines suggest limiting window area to avoid energy loss, especially in skylights. Thorough energy modeling can help determine where windows should be placed to maximize daylighting and passive solar heating while maintaining an appropriate level of insulation.

  • As an owner of a townhome with 27 windows, it may just be that they wanted the wall space.

    Particularly if they installed a bathroom there at some point.

    I’d love to brick one of mine up.

  • +1 to Dave and KStreetQB. No DC regulation would have required it.

    Sometimes people just want to brick up a window. Sometimes an architect draws it that way in the first place (then it’s called a false window). Good place on the inside for a shower, shelves, fireplace, all sorts of inside amenities.

    • I’m liking the false window theory the most here. Lots of old houses out there have these.

  • +2 As the owner of a one bedroom condo with 13 windows, I don’t believe there is any restriction. Looks like a refurb. I think it looks wierd from the outside though.

  • I think that in New Orleans (back in the 19th century and before) they used to tax by number of rooms and closets were considered rooms so some of the really older homes don’t have closets that were part of the original structure.

    • Emmaleigh504

      They used to tax by height of the building in the front, thus creating camel backs, or houses that were 1 story in the front and 2 stores in the back.

      I always thought that closets just weren’t fashionable because everyone had armoires, but I could be wrong.

      • Closets were taxed in colonial America, as they were considered rooms. To include closets in your design meant you could afford to pay more taxes, so it was a subtle display of wealth. The tax on the height of houses in France led to the development of the mansard roof – while effectively a full story, it was considered an attic, so you were not taxed on that space…

    • This is correct, you were taxed by the number of rooms and closets counted as rooms. I grew up in New Orleans and lived in a really old house with no real closets.

  • Doubtful it’s the case here, but you’ll sometimes see windows bricked over where there’s an elevator shaft that was added after the building was designed.

    [captcha: The Cathode. Did I see them at the Black Cat once?]

  • The owner probably just wanted to mount a plasma or lcd on the wall.

    I have seen windows, that still have glass on the outside (tinted or painted) but have brick in the interior.

    A lot of old houses optimized window space for light, air or just for voyeuristic purposes which not can be fulfilled by lamps, air conditioners and webcams.

  • Why not add some attractive shutters?

  • If theses windows were bricked in later, it was probably done a looooooong time ago, as that brick looks like it matches the houses almost exactly. Try finding that brick now (unless it was salvaged from another building that happened to match). False windows aren’t uncommon in old buildings – symmetry was everything! I think putting closed shutters in the spaces would look odd, and draw more attention to it.

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