Month: March 2018

What is a Conservation Area?

Conservation Areas are defined and designated by Historic England in order to protect places of special architectural or historical interest. This wonderful organisation acts as guardian to the cultural and architectural heritage of which we are all so proud, preserving unique and distinctive buildings for the pleasure of future generations.

We occasionally receive enquiries from people unaware that they live in a Conservation Area and of course we are always delighted to help with advice about such matters as Article 4 Directions and planning permissions.

If you are unsure of whether you live in a Conservation Area, you can always contact your Local Planning Authority to find out. It is a huge privilege to live or work in such an area, but as with many privileges, there are some noticeable responsibilities.

 

Traditional Single Glazing

Very many older buildings still retain their original windows and while they add hugely to the aesthetic appeal they are rarely fit for purpose in respect of thermal insulation and noise reduction.

In fairness to the great builders of previous generations these windows have done incredibly well to last this long, particularly as these craftsmen had no access to our modern construction methods, so hats off to traditional skills!

Nowadays of course developments in glazing technology offer us a range of solutions and it is here where Hugo Carter can help.

 

Double Glazing in a Conservation Area

Our experience in this field can be invaluable, not just with design and installation but also in guiding clients through the often tricky application processes.

Our work with architects, civil engineers and local authorities ensures a seamless service, we have gone through the process many times and our guidance saves valuable time and money. In fact, our experts also specialise in window replacement in the conservation area.

Quite substantial changes to the rear of a building might be fairly straightforward whereas a cosmetic change to a highly visible feature at the front might take a little longer to be passed. One thing is for sure though, the preservation of old and unique buildings is a genuine love of ours, we never cut corners and we do everything ‘by the book’.

Your application might depend upon matters such as the size of your building, whether it is detached, semi-detached or terraced, part of a block or possibly a flat or apartment. Again, with our experience, we will give you an idea of likely success and timescales before the planning application is made.

Once the planning approval has been received we can arrange for installation. Part of the approval process is, of course, the submission of detailed plans and it is to these that we work with diligence and respect.

We consider the impact on each feature of the window unit, sash or casement windows, for example, require the precise matching of dimensions, design and finish, a sizeable task considering the additional depth of double glazing.

The work itself can take a while, but consider how long your building has been standing, doesn’t it deserve a little time?

 

Double Glazing in a Listed Building

While the process is quite similar to that for a building in a conservation area, this application comes with an additional regulatory body, Historic England.

The official name of Historic England is the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. It was first established in 1984 and until 1 April 2015 was commonly known as English Heritage. They are, as we touched upon earlier, the body charged with safeguarding the preservation of exceptional buildings and places of historic interest.

To say that they are ‘sticklers’ might be seen as an understatement, and so they should be. We are fortunate to live in a country packed with history and beautiful buildings, it is the job of this authority to make sure that we can enjoy both for many generations to come.

They are not, however, implacable and they can be appealed to if the changes you wish to make have a compelling case to be made. Hugo Carter has been successful in this regard because we are able to use ultra-thin glass and considerably smaller glazing bars than may other glazing companies.

We have written a quite extensive blog article about Listed Buildings and the issues surrounding their accreditation and the responsibilities of owners in particular in respect of making changes to windows. You can read more about it here.

As with every aspect of our service, if you have any questions we would welcome your call.

Window Replacement in a Conservation Area

Here at Hugo Carter we are huge fans of Conservation Areas, that is because we appreciate the love, care and attention that goes into maintaining these wonderful places for our generation and future generations to enjoy.

 

The most recent meaningful report on Conservation Areas was published in 2012 by the London School of Economics. The report analysed over 1 million property transactions in over 8,000 Conservation Areas and the key findings included…

  • Houses in a Conservation Area sell for a premium of 9% on average
  • Property prices inside Conservation Areas grew at a rate that exceeded comparable properties by 0.2% per year
  • There was no negative attitude toward planning regulations
  • Strong planning control was linked back to positively protecting the coherence of a neighbourhood

 

So, if you are lucky enough to live or work in a Conservation Area, well done, you chose very wisely indeed.

 

Of course, there are challenges to be faced but these additional responsibilities are in place for very good reason and while the various ‘hoops to jump through’ may seem infuriating at times they are more than worth it in the end.

 

Am I allowed to repair or replace my windows?

It is important to remember that your building is protected against major alteration, these regulations are more onerous if your building is located in an area covered by an Article 4 Direction. This simply means that you may be required to seek planning permission ahead of any work that might alter the fabric or look of the property.

We have huge experience in this field and we are always happy to advise before you either make an application or decide you do not need to. Beware though, even the most innocent of mistakes can lead to expensive repercussions. Our advice… check first.

 

We work closely with local authorities and our experience goes a long way to knowing the correct questions to ask and the most appropriate way to submit plans and requests. No glazing company can guarantee success with a planning application but a touch of professional nous certainly does no harm.

 

Can Hugo Carter replace my windows?

Subject to receipt of the relevant permissions, yes we can.

Our skilled technicians are specially trained to repair or replace windows in Conservation Areas and working with architects, designers and planning authorities is part of our job. We take great pride in fitting windows that are entirely sympathetic to the original design, we can even repair existing windows ‘invisibly’ making them more efficient in reducing noise and retaining warmth.

 

Repair or Replace?

It really is up to you, we can handle any glazing commission and as we said earlier, we have a real love for conservation area projects.

Whichever you choose, you can be assured of the same level of service that has firmly established Hugo Carter as specialists in our field. Please call for an informal chat if you have any questions about glazing options in Conservation Areas, it will be a pleasure to help.

 

Have you considered Upgrading to Double Glazing in a Conservation Area or in a Listed Building?

 

Soundproof Windows versus Secondary Glazing, a Few Facts

Noise is something that many of us accept to live with, a normal part of everyday life in the modern world.

The city dweller may become almost immune to the roar of traffic, the revving of a passing engine, the annoying buzz of a moped. Country living too is not without its noise, perhaps a passing aircraft or maybe the sound of church bells just a little too early on a Sunday morning?

Sometimes, of course, we want to hear the noise, the happy sounds of a vibrant city or unhurried rural life going on outside our window. But as we all know, what we find delightful one day may become irritating beyond belief the next, the difference between children playing happily or sounding like shrieking little monsters is really all about how we are feeling at the time.

You need to be in control of the sounds in your life and thankfully, here at Hugo Carter, we can help.

So what is the difference between soundproof windows and secondary glazing? Well, we promised you facts so here are a few…

Secondary glazing works by fitting an additional pane of glass behind existing windows within the reveal or directly on the window frame. Typically, this additional single pane of glass will sit in aluminium channels and if there is enough space within the reveal the distance between the existing window and secondary glazing can be adjusted to optimise noise reduction.

Soundproof windows are designed with noise reduction in mind and in most of the cases eliminate the need of having the secondary glazing. Glass in such windows has been replaced with acoustic double glazing which outperforms the noise reduction of secondary glazing in the majority of the situations.

 

Noise Reduction

As you would imagine, soundproof windows win hands down in this category. Laminated double glazing dulls sound waves and the space between the panes is optimised for maximum noise reduction. Flexible silicone between glass and timber frame also ensure there is little or no vibrations being passed onto the frames.

Secondary glazing can also help to reduce noise by creating an additional barrier between the outside world and the building interior. For obvious reasons the noise reduction will not be as dramatic as with soundproof glazing but you will undoubtedly notice a difference after fitting.

 

Installation

To speak candidly, this is one area where secondary is much more straightforward than soundproof.

Soundproofing requires the removal of existing frames, we can, of course, match the look of the old frames and our craftsmen work quickly, without compromise on quality.

On the other hand, the fitting of secondary glazing is not beyond even the most inexperienced DIY’er, however, we would always recommend the use of a skilled handyman just to make sure.

 

Thermal Insulation

Both solutions will help in this respect, there is an inevitable difference in the efficiency of the two methods but secondary glazing is an awful lot better than nothing.

The pocket of air between the window and the secondary glazing creates an additional buffer between outside and in, helping to reduce heat loss but not the condensation!

Soundproof windows use a similar principle but in a far more effective way. These units are designed to be fully insulated, cold air cannot get in and warm air cannot get out because there are no gaps between frame and glazing. From an environmental and financial perspective, this means that you will not be paying to heat your garden or the street outside and eliminate the condensation effect.

 

Maintenance

Another clear victory for the soundproof windows.

Because of its design and the way it is fitted, secondary double glazing can cause a great deal of condensation. This will cause a build up on the primary glazing unit and often requires the temporary removal of the secondary to make cleaning possible.

Soundproof windows offer a single, air-tight unit so there are never any issues with cleaning or maintenance.

 

Practicality

While soundproof windows have all the functional benefits of normal windows, secondary glazing due to its nature sits behind existing window limiting the access to it. Therefore, it isn’t very practical, especially after a few seasons, when its mechanism tops working efficiently.

 

Durability

Secondary glazing is considered a temporary solution and its lifespan is relatively short compared to soundproof windows. It’s short life expectancy is being justified with much lower cost.

 

Cost

It will come as no great surprise to learn that the professional installation of soundproof glazing is more expensive than secondary glazing.

Budgetary constraints can mean that the cheaper option makes sense and it would be disingenuous of us to suggest that secondary glazing does not work. It can make a genuine difference to noise reduction and even help a little with thermal insulation.

Soundproof windows will add value to your home and save money on energy bills but be under no illusion that they are anything other than a considered purchase. Hugo Carter takes pride in working to budgets and we provide detailed costings with every step of the way.

 

Aesthetics

There is also the question of aesthetics. Majority of our customers dislike the secondary glazing for its ugly look more than impracticality. It is difficult to disagree. Timber soundproof windows offer much better looks and definitely score, more points in this category.

 

Any Issues?

The installation of soundproof windows and frames in some properties can require planning permission. We can help advise you on this and help guide you through the permission process if required.

Secondary glazing requires no consent and can be fitted in a matter of minutes.

 

…and the winner is

 

Well, we would say this, wouldn’t we? It has to be Soundproof Windows. They are designed beautifully to do their job properly, there is a place for secondary glazing but in our opinion that place is… second.

 

Interested in our Definitive Guide To Soundproofing Your Home? Check it out here. 

Listed buildings and architectural glazing

As the owner of a listed building of whatever Grade, you will be completely aware of the challenges surrounding any sort of change.

Here at Hugo Carter we know the joys and frustrations that can be involved with developing a listed building more than anyone else and you will be pleased to learn that with our experience in these matters, we really can help.

So, let us begin with a few words about listed buildings, what they are and why they are such a wonderful part of our architectural and cultural heritage.

 

Listed Buildings, a few facts…

Listing celebrates and protects buildings of a significant architectural or historic nature, they do not have to be old buildings but all those constructed before 1700 and surviving in a recognisable original condition are automatically listed. Most buildings constructed between 1700 and 1840 are also listed and while anybody can apply for a ‘modern’ building to be listed, a general rule of thumb is that it should be more than 30 years old.

There are regulatory conditions set for each part of the United Kingdom, Historic England for example are currently prioritising post-modern buildings and post war public houses. The latter is a perfect example of the authority recognising dwindling numbers of such buildings and acting appropriately to preserve them for future generations. Obviously, not all will continue to operate as pubs but they will still retain the architectural features typical of this style of building.

There are three grades of listed buildings

Grade I – buildings of exceptional interest

Grade II – buildings of more than special but less than exceptional interest

Grade III – Buildings of special interest.

Listing does not mean that changes cannot be made, it simply identifies buildings where historical and architectural value should be very carefully considered before planning decisions are made.

 

Conservation Areas…

Buildings in a conservation area are not the same as listed buildings, however they are often subject to similar development and restrictions to change. We always advise talking to an expert before making any changes. Of course, we believe that the expert should be us and we are always happy to offer completely impartial, no-obligation advice.

We have written a separate blog about glazing options for Conservation Areas and you can see it here

 

A special word about windows…

Of course, here at Hugo Carter we have a specific interest in windows so let us take a look at what can be done in this area.

 

We are often asked the very simple question, Am I allowed to change the windows in my listed building?

As with many simple questions, the answer is far from straightforward.

Listing does not mean that you are not allowed to make changes, it does mean however and we must be very clear on this point, you need to apply for permission to make changes before any work can commence. We can help with the application process of course and while we hold no guaranteed influence we are able to ask the right questions and make salient points on your behalf.

Proceeding with work before permission has been granted is a criminal offence, you might be prosecuted and may be liable for all costs in returning the feature to its original condition.

It is true that Grade III buildings are considered as more likely to receive consent to make change but it is highly unlikely that permission will be given for windows that could be repaired rather than replaced. Our experienced technicians will be able to confirm whether your windows need to be replaced or can be repaired.

You can find out more about upgrading to double glazing in a conservation area or in a listed building here.

Repair or Replace…

The first step is to meet with one of our technicians, usually on site. We will then have a clearer idea of what permissions you require and how we can best help to guide you through the process.

We work directly with architects, local authorities, council planning departments and fellow construction experts to make sure that no detail is overlooked. There are many factors to consider and we use all of our experience and resources to make sure that you end up with the best possible results.

One guarantee that we always make is that we will never recommend replacement windows where a repair would be more appropriate, but for those windows that do require soundproof replacement windows, you can count on our skilled craftsmen to ensure a precise replica.

Our factory is fitted with state of the art machinery and our skilled craftsman are ready to build precise replicas of your existing windows to meet conservation requirements.

Owning or managing a listed building is a wonderful privilege and so is the opportunity to work on such magnificent buildings. Here at Hugo Carter we recognize not only our duty to our clients but also our responsibility to future generations, we love listed buildings.