There are, of course, pros and cons of living in a listed building, those that have a historical or architectural interest. There’s certainly something to be said about living in a completely original and unique home, full of character, history and intrigue… but make sure you know what to expect before you buy because it’s not as simple as owning a newer property, that’s for sure.
For example, if you want to make changes to the sash windows of your Wiltshire home, you must make sure that you seek advice before making any structural or aesthetic changes because it’s highly likely that consent will be required for such building work to be carried out.
Make sure as well that you’ve done your research and know the history of your particular house. If you do have historic glass in the frames be aware that this is very rare so changes may be restricted. Historic window frames are also likely to pose a few problems because if there’s any evidence of serious craftsmanship then your windows will likely be quite valuable – which again will put some restrictions on you as to what you can and can’t do.
However, if windows have been replaced on a previous occasion it’s possible that they won’t add to the historical interest of the property in question so it may be easier to replace them again in the future.
Historic England has this to say about new windows: “[They] need to comply with minimum energy efficiency requirements as part of the Building Regulations (Part L). This can be achieved either with double glazing or secondary glazing. For listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas a case can be made for exemption where complying with required standards would unacceptably alter the character and appearance of the window.”
If you’re looking to draught-proof the windows in your listed building, which can be a major source of heat loss, you first need to identify and carry out any necessary repairs. Some older buildings may well have distorted over time because of thermal movement and settlement – but sash windows may hold their shapes better than their frames, which means you may find some gaps or the sashes actually sticking inside the frame, which will need to be rectified.
Be mindful that it’s typically cheaper to repair traditional timber windows and doors than to sort out a replacement and any historic glass in place will need to be retained during the repair work. You might want to have a paint analysis done on your windows as well before stripping back the layers of accumulated paint, as this could give you some ideas about future paint schemes.
Internal draught-proofing is likely to be a better option for many living in listed buildings – double glazing can result in a loss of the historic fabric of the property, so secondary glazing may be the preferred choice. Shutters and curtains can also be used to great effect in terms of noise reduction, draught prevention and keeping the warmth in.