Designed Windows for a New Home: Character and Weatherproofing

A window has two main functions: to allow natural light into a property, and to prevent the cold or damp from coming in at the same time. It may also have a ventilation function – though the relationship between ventilation and heat loss (and therefore energy use) has changed the way that windows are used to keep damp out of a room or property. As a result, it is important to specify other methods for ventilating a room, where new windows have been specified to bring character and energy efficiency to the home.


UPVC windows and doors are specified in a number of homes, both new builds and retro fitted properties. The reasons for this are twofold. First, the material is extremely cheap to make; and second, it is incredibly efficient at keeping out cold and damp, while keeping in heat.

PVC, however, has little character – even where the window frame is moulded to represent an older style. It is possible, in some cases, to set a plastic window frame inside a brick one – effectively retaining the look of older windows set flush with a property – but this is not always the case. Plus, of course, some character and period properties require wood in order to retain their original look.

It may be the case that a person’s new home was someone else’s old one – and where a property is very old, it might also be protected by Grade II listing. A Grade listing dictates that a property must be maintained and restored using only original materials. In such cases, new windows have to mimic the look and even the functionality of the old ones: not great for energy efficiency but good for the look of the building.

Where a property is not protected by Grade listings, it is possible to retain the character of original windows but introduce the insulation and damp proofing qualities of modern glazing. This is done by using designed windows – i.e. windows that have been built specifically for the frame holes of the home, and with an eye on the original design of its formative window settings.

The difference between a designed window, though, and a straight Grade II compliant replacement, is that the designed frame may depart from the exact original configuration. It may be the case that the new owner wishes to install a look and feel that celebrates the old character of the house but brings it up to date – perhaps using modern natural woods, which have different tones to the original fixtures; or using new shapes for lintels and sills. A chunkier style can add a modern element to a rustic property, or create a modernist look in a Victorian townhouse, for example.

Window design must go hand in hand with the overall design of the home’s creation or refurbishment. This is true in both practical and aesthetic terms. A practical design may incorporate venting elements where inadequate ventilation exists in other areas of the room; or the overall design of the refurbishment may specify solid, unvented frames with air bricks or extractor vents.

Author Bio: Joanne Yates has many articles published on architectural designing, building constructions. For more information visit our website.

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