Soundproof windows can change your life by decreasing noise pollution and improving your quality of sleep.
A study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found that high levels of noise pollution in London are linked to early death and a greater risk of stroke (2015). Issues with health and wellbeing are caused by stress and sleep disruption from night-time traffic noise. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can shorten your life expectancy, and put you at risk of medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. So, whilst your traditional Victorian windows might be in keeping with the facade of your house, they could be contributing to your poor health by allowing noise and air pollution to infiltrate your home.
Can I install soundproof windows in my Victorian property?
The simple answer is yes, but let’s break this down as there is always some confusion over what work can, and cannot be carried out to older properties, especially if they are listed.
Listed building status celebrates a building’s special architectural and historical interest by protecting it against development. To be eligible for listed status, buildings usually have to be over thirty years old. Any building built before 1700 that has survived in its original condition is likely to be listed.
Owning a listed property means a beautiful home with character features, but it also requires regular maintenance and following strict procedure. Historic England say, “You will need listed-building consent for all work to a listed building that involves alteration, extension or demolition where it affects its special architectural or historic interest.”
A period property
There is no specific definition for a period property, but the term usually refers to a building constructed before WWI, during a particular historical. For example, Georgian is used to describe during the reign of King George.
Soundproof windows are possible in listed properties, if you choose an expert who understands English Heritage rules and regulations. You will have to apply for planning permission and contact your local authority. You may find this 15 steps to choosing a window, glazing and door specialist checklist when searching for the right company to install your soundproof windows.
Why choose Hugo Carter for your soundproof windows?
Hugo Carter’s technicians are trained to install, repair and replace windows in a range of properties, including listed buildings and conservation areas. They do all the hard work consulting with your local authority to secure planning permission, and as they understand the rules and regulations of what you can and cannot do, they are on hand to advise at every step of the process. The specialised products include full, invisible overhauls of your windows, but retain the bulk of your original windows, making them more efficient whilst complying with regulations. Restore or replace traditional windows in order to improve efficiency, eliminate sound pollution and create a healthy home life.
What are my soundproof window options?
Hugo Carter offer bespoke soundproof solutions, including windows and doors. They work with you to establish what you need, and how their products might fit into your home, complementing your period property. Because everything made by their team of expert craftsmen can be customised in size, shape, colour, and stain, you always get exactly what you want. Soundproof windows and doors are made from sustainable timber and eco glass, ensuring that the planet is well looked after. If during the process you would like to upgrade to modern tilt and turn, that can be arranged. Choose from sash or casement windows, customised to suit your lifestyle.
Read more about the materials used by Hugo Carter here.
Hugo Carter design, build and install, and repair bespoke windows and doors. Because we’re passionate about the environment and your health, all of our products are soundproof, helping to eliminate city noise. Everything we build is made from sustainable material. For a free quote and to see how our soundproof products can transform your home into an oasis of tranquility. Contact us today for a free quote.
The world is a beautiful place that sadly is being gradually ruined by industry. Throughout the last hundred or so years, and since the Industrial Revolution, we have been slowly burning all the available energy rich substances we can find and massacring ancient forestry in order to make way for plantations and farmlands. As global demand is ever increasing, we need to look towards a more sustainable future on this planet.
One such way we have of ensuring that we do not destroy the planet for the sake of a profit is by creating conservation areas. These range from areas of natural beauty, including national parks and iconographic landscapes, to urban conservation areas such as historic town centres, country houses and 18-19th Century suburbs, which are protected by English Heritage.
Urban conservation areas are decreed to be areas of special architectural or historical importance, and cannot be built upon or destroyed. In the UK alone there are now over 9,600 designated conservation areas including such landmarks as Alexandra Palace and Park, Bank and Guildhall in London. Even performing alterations on your property in one of these areas, such as installing new windows and doors, must first pass through the Local Council in order to be approved. If you get the green light, they will give Article 4 directions to go ahead with your planned modifications, though you must keep within strict parameters. You are also restricted from cutting down trees without Council permission, and often many trees are considered to contribute to the character of the conservation area, and are therefore placed under a Tree Preservation Order.
The conservation of forests and natural areas of beauty is something close to our hearts at Hugo Carter, and is the reason why we plant a tree for every order placed with us. We believe that we cannot just take from the planet, but have a responsibility to give back. As such, every time one of our bespoke windows or doors is purchased, we plant a tree in the wonderful area of Bisham Woods. A nature reserve, deigned in the 1970s to be an area of ‘Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest’, Bisham Woods is also hailed to be the richest ancient woods in the whole of Berkshire.
According to the latest research by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), over half of the planet’s forest have been irreparably altered, destroyed or repurposed. What remains is itself subject to a plethora of misuses by those with no care for the effects they are having upon global environment. In keeping with this, we also strictly follow the legislation set out by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and source all of our materials responsibly, ensuring that all products are approved by the FSC. In order to ensure a brighter tomorrow, we must first shine the spot light on our time, and no longer hide in the shadows of ignorance.
Image by Didimendum1
In the UK a listed building is one that has been placed on a register to protect it from wayward developments. This building is placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest, which means that any work likely to interfere with the structure or visage of the building, will need to be put through to the consideration of the planning system in order to discern what is in the best interest of the building itself.
These building are themselves split into 3 categories; Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II in the UK.
Though these differ slightly in Northern Ireland & Scotland where they are classified as Grade A, Grade B and Grade B1 & Grade A, Grade B and Grade C(S) respectively.
Only 2.5% of those in the UK are actually Grade I, which are structures of exceptional, and often international interest. Just 5.5% are of Grade II* status, which are deemed to be particularly important buildings. Whereas most buildings (92%) are Grade II, which are of special national interest and can often be owned as homes.
These buildings demonstrate the history of the country as expressed through architectural advances, or their historical context. Take Clifton Suspension Bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for instance, a Grade I listed structure which stands as the epitome of Britain’s industrial revolution, or Royal Festival Hall which was the first post war building to gain Grade I status, and you will see the grand scale we are talking about here.
Grade II* buildings include Battersea Power Station, Rise Hall and Coliseum Theatre, which demonstrates the diversity of the structures that are listed. With places such as Surbiton Rail Station and the BT Tower taking up third place as Grade II structures.
Unlike most people think, these buildings aren’t necessarily placed under a preservation order, which would prevent any kind of development upon the structure. It simply means that these buildings are to be celebrated for their cultural impact, and that any form of change to the building will have to be strongly considered within governmental planning guidance.
A symbol recognised globally, Battersea Power Station will at long last be redeveloped to become a new luxury hub on the south side of the river, which we are really very excited about seeing. At Hugo Carter we feel that the influence of modern technology on older buildings can be a really interesting combination. Also, where listed buildings of the past may have used materials that aren’t energy efficient, or may have been harmful to the environment, there is always scope to improve upon them with newer, more modern designs.
Tell us, what do you think? Is there a place for newer developments in traditional, listed buildings? Can modern technology help to improve already stunning structures, or will they take away from the integrity of the site?
Image by Clanger's England
Formed in 1919, The Forestry Commission is a government department which is responsible for the protection, preservation and creation of the forestry in England and Scotland. Split into two departments, for the North and the South respectively, the Welsh Commission recently became part of Natural Resources Wales.
Set up after the First World War, the Forestry Commission was originally tasked with expanding upon depleted British forestry as a result of the war. As such they sought out a vast amount of ex-agricultural land, which was no longer in use. This meant that the Commission then became the largest landowner in the whole of Great Britain.
Over the last century the commission has moved on from just repopulating British forests and are now responsible for many facets of timber production:
The Commission plant many millions of trees, and sustainably harvest around four million tonnes from England and Scotland, each year. Totalling more than one third of domestic total production, this means that we are less dependent upon imported woods and goes some way to lowering our carbon footprint by creating low-carbon materials for the British Industry.
Though it may not seem like it, we are close to losing many British species of tree like the Horse Chestnut. With a lot of wood being imported into the UK that carry pests and disease, we are facing an epidemic of destruction throughout our forests, further exacerbated by climate change which has improved conditions for disease propagation. The Commission is rigorous in its approach to stopping this happen and inspects all imported woods at the ports in order to minimise this threat. They also work to deal with any outbreaks by containing the spread of disease through licensed tree felling.
With areas such as Kilmun and Westonbirt perennially protected from logging, The Commission ensures that Britain’s great forests will remain great for years to come. However, they don’t only protect the country’s trees from destruction, but also the wildlife and ecosystems which thrive in the forests. One major impact we’ve seen as a result of industrial growth and increased timber demand is the rapid decline of native species such as the red squirrel and the dormouse, and the Forestry Commission are making moves to protect and nurture such creatures.
A mainstay of British culture, what with our beaches just being too cold for most of the year, many people take time to visit our greatest forests. As such the Commission make themselves responsible for the facilitation of our jaunts into the woods, creating and up-keeping trails, grounds, cycle routes and more. According to the Forestry Commission’s site this contributes £2 billion yearly to the economy in rural areas, which is not exactly loose change!
One of our favourite organisations, we work strictly within the Commission’s guidelines and hope to emulate their ethics within our company’s practises.
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A charity that is close to our hearts, The Woodland Trust is a conservation charity which seeks to protect and manage the UK’s woodlands. Started by Kenneth Watkins OBE in 1972, the trust now owns over 80 woods in Scotland and an astounding 850 in England, covering 25,000 acres of land.
Surviving on donations from memberships, corporate sponsors and charitable trusts such as lottery funding as well as landfill tax, The Woodland Trust is always open to new donations. You can also sponsor the trust to plant a tree in your name, as we do with every order that is placed with us.
In the years that it’s been running, the Trust has faced an incredible amount of pressure from groups looking to build on their land. Now they have been taking the fight to the big companies, recently campaigning against the HS2 rail network that is proposed to cut through the British countryside.
Though often overlooked as a charity, The Woodland Trust is a very important part of our country’s culture. It conserves ancient woodlands that stand as an epitaph to the generations that have gone before us. The forests are part of our historical heritage, having seen many battles, the revolutions of society and the development of modern culture. Whilst it’s very easy in this day and age to forget about nature and be cocooned in the urban environment, we must remember the benefits that British woodlands bring us.
From absorbing excess pollution from the air to reducing the possibility of flooding, the woodlands are beneficial in many ways to everyone. Possibly the best thing about the trust, however, is that you can go and visit the forests yourself! There’s nothing I enjoy more than taking a long winter’s walk through some of England’s wonderful forestry. Hearing the cold, hard twigs crack under foot as a layer of frost permeates the grounds. It’s a fantastic experience, free and fun for all the family!
The closest Woodland Trust forest to London is probably Whitings Wood in Barnet, North London. Covering 17.5 acres, it’s not an ancient wood, having been planted in 1996, but it’s really come into its own in recent years. Another woodland definitely worth a visit is Penn Wood in Buckinghamshire, an ancient forest more than 400 years old it offers spectacular views and breathtaking scenery. Check out their site and learn about what you can do to get involved in the effort!
We hugely support the Woodland Trust and their efforts to protect woodlands, as part of our support we plant a tree for every order we receive in order to do our part to help woodlands from being destroyed.
Image by Alison Christine
Planning permission for restorations or additions to your property can be a real pain for a lot of developers and can spell disaster for the hopes and aspirations for home owners who are looking to really make their house their own.
However, it needn't be such a huge nuisance and if you follow this simple guide to achieving planning permission in the UK, you will find yourself with one less headache.
When do you need Planning Permission?
There are three factors to consider when figuring out whether you need to seek permission from your Local Planning Authority (LPA).
When you are building something entirely new.
When you are making major changes to your building, as with an extension for example.
When you are changing the use of your building (e.g. from a domicile to a commercial property).
All of these things will be differently interpreted by your LPA and contact details for this authority can be found here for full details on whether you will need it for your work.
Work undertaken on industrial premises do not normally require planning permission, though may fall under separate conditions. This also goes for demolition, though this will require separate approval from the LPA.
If your building project is specifically in benefit of the local community, it may also be able to forgo tradition routes and instead gain permission through Neighbourhood Planning or the Community Right to Build.
How do they access whether a building will achieve planning permission?
Your LPA will undertake a thorough investigation into the application, evaluating it on the following merits:
The size, layout, citing and appearance of the building.
Concerns surrounding infrastructure such as roads and energy and water supplies.
Why the development has been undertaking (e.g. to turn private property into a commercial property.
How the development will affect the local environment (e.g. changing views, traffic, etc.).
You can hope to achieve the results of your application within 8 weeks, but this can take as long as 13 weeks, so make sure to send your application off way in advance of any planned changes to your property to avoid disappointment.
Now you can even apply for planning permission online here which makes the whole ordeal a whole lot simpler.
In recent times we have seen a great deal of properties built to quite simply house us. High rises and housing estates that offer no individuality, but simply seek to place us all in concrete boxes – concentric circles of red brick buildings with the same concrete tiles that buzz around new towns, distinctly lacking in personality or beauty. Developers are always looking to capitalise upon any shred of land they can find, and if it wasn't for institutions to protect areas of historical interest, we would lose some truly fascinating sites in lieu of a cheap housing fix.
So let's be thankful for the English Heritage. It is their prerogative to preserve sites of natural beauty, outstanding architecture and historic sites, so that we can still understand, care for and enjoy the wonderfully woven tapestry of England's unique history.
But it's not just England's history – it's our history. The past with its architecture; its battlefields; its parks, is the platform we stand upon as we look to the future. Without knowing and understanding the past we are, as the saying goes, 'doomed to repeat it'.
It's what gives our simple streets such meaning and if that's not important then I don't know what is.
This isn't, however, an exclusive club that is run for your amusement, and they are always looking for people to get involved and work towards protecting English heritage sites! This can be done in a variety of ways:
You can volunteer to help out the organisation, with a whole load of things that you can get involved with. From stewarding properties to the curatorial cleaning of historical artefacts and even gardening, it's a great way to learn new skills through their training programmes, meet new people and get up close and personal with your history!
If you think that there is a significant site near you that hasn't been recognised, or a building that ought to be listed, you can also submit places to their evaluation process! This is a great way to further preserve places of cultural, historical or architectural importance that have been overlooked!
You can even go one step further and take ownership of a heritage site! Throughout the UK there are communities of people who have taken it upon themselves to up-keep significant sites that the local authorities no longer bother with, or want to sell off from falling into disrepair or the hands of developers.
Image by David Dixon
Local Authorities are very strict on the ways in which you can enhance, or even repair properties in conversation areas. Requiring extensive planning permission, most buildings in these protected zones can get around the need for planning permission when they commission precise like-for-like replacement fittings when their windows are in need of repair, or upgrading.
Protected under Article 4, legislated in 1995, Local Authorities have the right to restrict you painting your house a different colour, changing any distinctive doors or windows, or other architectural details that may be representative of the building’s period or historical importance.
This boils down to even the most minute of details, from the exact size of the frames and its architraves to the mullions and drips. Only replacement frames that will exactly match are deemed acceptable, and there are only a few window fitting companies that are capable of replicating such windows.
Like For Like Windows
At Hugo Carter, we are one of the few; offering timber frame solutions to any of your conservation building needs. Our expert team will come to your property to evaluate the situation and discern what precisely the project will entail.
We will then return with a full team who will be responsible for collating all the measurements of the frames, the window panes, the architraves and sills. The same guys will also make a detailed list of all the small little details, mullions and drips, sashes and pulley systems taking extensive measurements and photographs to ensure that our design and development team have the precise details required to begin manufacturing your new windows.
Then we will set to work, sourcing the exact same materials to create the windows to the exacting measurements and functionality as the originals. It is also very important that the finished aesthetic is an exacting match, meaning that we will also source the precise colour and style of finish for your frames too.
We can, however, improve upon certain elements of the window’s designs, upgrading the glass used to give you more thermal insulation and noise reduction through the installation of our bespoke sash pulley systems.
Upgrading your windows to modern standards with like for like replacements in listed buildings and conservation areas can really add genuine value to a property, futureproofing them from repair and providing better energy efficiency with subsequent savings on your energy bills.
If you’re considering replacing your windows then please get in touch with us and we’d be happy to discuss it with you!
Image by Les Chatfield
Kew Gardens, the jewel of South West London, world renowned for its exotic collection of plants and horticulture, offers so much more than a simple day out. For years now they have been running courses educating students, scientists and laymen on the art of conservation, horticulture and botanics.
Available to both national and international students at Kew and Wakeworth, these courses demonstrate the just how integral the institution is. One of my personal favourites are the daily courses that they run for schools and young children. I think it’s incredibly integral for children to be taught from a young age about the importance of conservation and the effects of plant life on our environment.
It’s very easy for children brought up in the city to miss out on this knowledge, and when you’re surrounded by the concrete expanse of London and its juggernaut of carbon emissions, it’s easy to neglect the countryside and the benefits of being surrounded by natural plant life.
For the early years, Kew Gardens offer courses which are designed to promote an awareness of nature, whilst also creating a fun and captivating environment for the children to explore. This involves meeting the ‘Wakehurst Green Fairy’, who the children need to help find fallen leaves and flowers to complete her dress.
For the slightly older kids, there’s the opportunity to get to grips with the more scientific stuff. Running a day long course, Kew get enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers to show them around the grounds from the awesome and intricate eco-systems of the Bog Garden to the ‘Mini-Beast Safari’, where children are shows the symbiotic nature of plants, insects and small animals.
Though it’s not just about the scientific side of ecology, but also the creative. Kew Gardens courses for children offer youngsters the ability to get creative with nature too, whether through creating works of art from the plant life or photography courses. I feel that this is absolutely integral to get kids excited and involved in the world of ecology and our natural environment.
As we all know, we’re having to rapidly come to grips with the effects of global warming and climate change. I believe if we start educating our children from a young age on the benefits of conservation - about how trees are so important not only for the wood and paper that we use, but also the oxygen we breathe - how plants and their ecosystem of insects are the cornerstone of all the species that live on this planet, we will ensure that future generations don’t make the same mistakes that past generations have done.
Image by Klaus Henkel
More and more properties are being added to the list of conservation areas in the UK, with the cultural heritage of our country’s architecture becoming increasingly important as new cheap build permeate the landscape. As one of the very few manufacturers and installers in London, a lot of our clients approach us looking for bespoke windows that will work as replacements for their properties in conservation areas. It’s become second nature for us to now recreate window frames like-for-like, with some of our work even surpassing the unique hardwood windows that we manufacture ourselves.
In order to comply with the LPA, we need to take exact measurements of the frames and procure materials and finishes that will exactly match the architectural and aesthetic qualities of previous windows. This can be a long process, but one that, in the end, is extremely rewarding, especially as a lot of our clients come to us worried that they will never be able to upgrade their windows in a conservation area due to the council’s restrictions.
We’ve recently partnered with a property development company who were finding it a massive headache having to consistently get a company which would be able to replace windows in conservation areas. It’s now our privilege to get involved in all of these projects, with our design and tech staff enthusiastic to have the challenges of bringing the ornate and impressive window designs of the past into the modern age.
From installing brand spanking new vacuum insulated windows, which can offer the same depth as some single glazed sash and casement frames, to the simple repair of hardwood window frames which have been damaged through years of use, it’s an exciting and rewarding task to rejuvenate part of history.
It’s also a great benefit for our clients to update windows in conservation area buildings as a lot of past designs didn’t really take into consideration eco-friendliness or efficiency. What we can do now with advances in design, treatments of the wood and the glass is truly remarkable and not only helps with insulation and noise reduction, but from a property development and resellers standpoint, it adds a great deal of value to the property too.
If you’d like to know more about replacing windows in a conservation area, check out our window replacement page for conservation areas.
Image by David Hawgood