Upgrading to Double Glazing in a Conservation Area or in a Listed Building

March 12th, 2018

A great deal of older buildings still have their original single glazing units intact which may suit the aesthetic of the property, but can be a real pain year round, especially in winter when you will be pouring money into heating your house only to have it float away with the winds.

The obvious solution is to install double glazing in order to cut down on your heating costs and stop those pesky draughts getting into your property.

However, this can be a real chore in conservation areas and listed buildings. So before you start thinking about getting some bespoke replacements manufactured, it’s worth knowing about the bumps that you can face along the road.

Double Glazing in a Conservation Area

Undertaking work on your property in a conservation area requires that all plans go through the Local Authority for approval, which can be a tricky process indeed.

The thing about conservation areas is that they are named as such in order to protect the aesthetic, architectural or historical interest and uniqueness of a building or collection of buildings. Anything done to change their visage is a big no-no, and practically impossible to get around.

Changing the rear of the building (if generally unseen), can be fairly straightforward, but the front is a different matter altogether. Re-fittings of double glazed sash or casement windows need to exactly match the dimensions, design, and finish of the current units, which can be a tricky task given that the inclusion of double glazing almost always makes the unit deeper and larger in order to support two panes of glass.

It’s also worth noting that if your property stands alone, you are in with a better shout of getting approval, as it will not affect the general look of the neighbouring buildings if the window designs are slightly different. Getting double glazing installed in conservation areas where your property is part of a terrace or a flat within a larger property is even more difficult, though not entirely impossible.

Double Glazing in a Listed Building

This is a similar process to that of the conservation area, except that for listed buildings of Grade I and Grade II* status, English Heritage will have to get involved as well as the Local Authority. This makes the whole process an even larger headache, as English Heritage is even greater sticklers for detail.

That said, it’s not impossible, but it will take a long time and you better be prepared for the long haul fight. You will need to submit technical drawings, application after application and go through negotiations with both the Heritage organisation and the Local Council in order to get approval.

Replacement window designs are scrutinised to the millimetre, and are thrown out if they don’t submit to the dimensions of the existing window.

So What Can You Do?

Well, you can try. The reality is that listed buildings and conservation areas are all well and good, but when they become unlivable due to energy costs and the cold, they cease to function as anything other than four walls and a roof.

The Local Authorities and English Heritage are becoming more acceptant of the fact that although cultural heritage needs to be preserved, modern living also needs to be taken into consideration.

Regarding the actual replacement designs, we at Hugo Carter use ultra-thin glass and smaller glazing bars in order to manufacture replacement windows that have been approved in the past – so it can definitely be done.

The other (far cheaper) option is to install secondary glazing within the property. These aren’t, however, as effective at reducing noise pollution, increasing thermal insulation or reducing energy bills. They’re also ugly, and whilst this can’t be seen from the outside, it can be from within.

If you want to know any more – or have any questions about how Hugo Carter can help you with these issues, just get in touch! A member of our team will be glad to help.

Images by Roger Jones

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