From the Forum – Window replacement in historic district

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Window replacement in historic district

“Before I start too far down the black hole of permitting, historic preservation, office of planning, etc, I’m hoping for crowd-sourced wisdom. Anyone out there have luck/happiness replacing old windows in a historic district?
– What windows did you choose?
– Anybody have luck with something other than wood?
– Did you have window company install, or a contractor? If the latter, who?”

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9 Comment

  • The truth is that it’s a completely arbitrary experience depending upon the reviewer in the HPO. I suggest that you contact the person at the HPO in charge of your neighborhood and they will give you the run down. Here is the list of phone numbers:

    When I recently did replacement windows in a historic district, HPO told me that vinyl were unacceptable, but wood or fiberglass replacements were fine. They were big sticklers on the number and size of mullions, etc.

    I ended up with Pella wood windows that were clad in aluminum.

  • Thankfully I live just outside the Capitol Hill Historic distract but I have had my windows replaced. I do know the city has design guidelines but it sort of seems to come down to does it “look” original enough.

  • I used Window Nation a few years ago. They did all the permitting – we did have to change windows to a more expensive one due to the city rejecting the original planned windows but Window nation gave me a break on the price and it ended only costing me a little more. The lead up time seemed like a long time to me but the install was quick taking place in half a day for 8 large windows and in the end I am pleased with the result.

  • I had Renewal by Andersen do a whole house replacement on Capitol Hill a few years ago. Their windows are a composite. They handled all the approvals with no problems or delays. We were very happy with the windows and the installers. Kind of meh on the salesguy.

    Also, windows are like mattresses and cars. The price is just a starting point for negotiation.

  • we used Pella for custom wood replacement windows in the Logan historic district seven years ago. They were easy to work with and the windows look great and work well.

  • You do need a permit, but it’s not that tough to get. ( everyone replacing windows needs a permit to insure windows meet the new energy code – regardless if you are in a historic district). If you are in a historic district you cannot use vinyl on the front or visible side elevations. There are a lot of options- just check with the people in the dc historic preservation. Also, it’s not that tough getting your own permit- work with the Home Owners Center at DCRA.

  • We just added interior noise reducing storm windows.

  • My house had unusual windows with small squares of glass surrounding the upper pane. I tried to get them restored but couldn’t. I contacted the historic preservation office and they were extremely helpful – they even supplied the name of two companies that make appropriate windows, and I went with Trimline. The Ameritech Construction Co. Salesman did not provide the drawing on a timely basis, which delayed the project. When I finally got a drawing of the window from the contractor I went to the permit office myself. I was out of there in about one and a half hours.

    Lesson – work with the preservation office. They will help you. If you don’t you will get slammed, and they will be on your case. As others have said, wood windows are the way to go. Why would you want crappy aluminum windows anyway?

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