Replacing windows in a 120 years property

60 Replies

We ordered retrofit windows for a 1942 home in early June because, like yours, they weren't modern standard sized windows. They just arrived about 2 weeks ago. The sliding glass door arrived last week....and was damaged. We've used this company many times previously and never had an issue. Our order was hung up in supply chain delays. We couldn't wait any longer to reorder the slider. They said they couldn't even quote us a possible ETA because of the shipping situation.So instead we bought one "off the rack" from Lowe's that was as close to the right size as possible and just re-framed the door way to fit it. Windows have been the hardest items to get ahold of recently. I would want to replace them if I were you, but would either factor in extended holding costs or consider switching out oddball sizes to something more readily available if you can. Good luck!

@Tal Shachar . I’ve replaced in similar situation with custom fit windows and that’s worked out better than trying to use stock windows.

Updated 3 months ago

I wanted to add a few thoughts - an advantage of the custom fit is they let in more daylight than stock windows (due to the smaller size of the stock window (the difference can be substantial) and also provide a tighter less drafty fit and quicker install. Its probably standard at this point in most windows but check if the energy saving low e glass is included. Overall i found new windows make a noticeable positive improvement to the property

@Tal Shachar

Replacing old windows has a variety of challenges. You can special order replacement windows for your current openings, they will prob be around $250-400 each. Then hire out the install which will prob need to include some exterior window caping.

Since you’re changing them you could also run into egress requirements, nothing off the shelf at Home Depot/Lowe’s meets these egress codes. If you do need to worry about egress you could change the style of the window from double hung to casements. From working on old house quite a bit I am going to guess the casements will be smaller than your current window heights in which case you’ll have a bit more expensive install as now they have to patch old siding / paint it etc…

Originally posted by @Tal Shachar :

Hey there,

Hope I can learn from all the experienced landlords here...

I just had my inspection completed, for an investment townhome I'm interested in Baltimore, MD.
The house is ~120 years old, and besides the expected wear and tear, it is in a good shape overall

However, most of the windows as "past their EOL" and also, when opened, they do not stay up.
The house inspector told me that this could be a liability issue, if something happens to a tenant/child, due to a window shuts down on them.

Two questions, if I may - 

  1. 1. Does anyone know how much does it cost to replace these old house windows? I think their size is not "Standard"
  2. 2. Should I really be concerned about this "liability" issue?

This is my first investment property, so I'm not sure what to do with this info...

Thanks a lot for any insight!

Fix them. They are old growth wood, it is a shame to trash them.

My house is from 1906, I did a top of the line restoration on some of the windows, but you don't have to go to the extremes on a rental.

Read The Crafstman blog and watch a few videos.  They can be repaired, over and over. The hardest part may be the paint, but if no excessive paint was applied, it's easy. You can encapsulate the paint and isolate with metal winterizing copper.

If they wont stay open, it means you can open them, great news! Replace the sash chord and you are set. Sash chords are $40 for 100 feet, 1 hour per window.

If you dont pay for heat,  don't worry about the single pane glass. Add storm windows, if you care. Single panes are R0.6, double pane are only R2.0, it is not a huge difference. There is no payback on new windows. 

Replacement windows for rentals, budget type, are garbage.

Post a photo and I'll give you some insight.

Good luck,

@Tal Shachar if you will rent this unit I would encourage you before you fix them know your lead requirements and if old windows will pass them.   If they allow no painted friction surfaces you may need to have them professionally restored to pass. I think MD may be on the strict side. 

Oh yeah baby... nothing like digging down into a +100 year old brick building.

We replaced both "decade old replacement" windows that were put in as well as the old windows. It was fortuitous of us to have a great old world mason who could address the brick wear that was hidden behind the wood paneling which was behind the sheet rock.

Framed out with pressure treated... That baby is good for another 100 easy. And it is sealed up tight with Anderson 400's- f' keeping the old stuff- I save a fortune on heat and the tenants LOVE it.

Oofhaa.... Those replacement windows didn't address the nightmare underneath.

Left from an earlier renovation (3 months before the Titanic went down):

I would replace the window; no air or water leaks will provide efficiency in the home. I have provided a link with all window types so you can make the best decisions.

As an agent, I look at big-ticket items to negotiate the best deal for my clients. It may be worth trying that first.

I am bit challenged with my 1961 property with all work I have to do on pretty much everything like new septic, electric, plumbing, crawlspace waterproofing, french drains outside, hvac related issues  but it is in good location. Should I keep or sell it? But after reading this thread getting inspiration to keep it