Hello all!

My wife and I are starting to plan for the warm season and the associated opportunities for working on the exterior of our foursquare farmhouse. We are in need of advice from people who love old houses for their charm and durability, as I don't trust a lot of the "common sense" the local contractors have to offer :-)

We have 22 windows in need of replacement. The previous owner bought the "replace your windows" lie and took out all but four of the original windows (mercifully leaving the four leaded glass windows) and replaced them with absolutely horrid stock size vinyl new construction windows from Menards. I estimate the windows are 5-7 years old and they are completely falling apart. Besides this, they are improperly installed and not the original sizes (the original windows were tall and narrow, the new vinyl ones are just as narrow but 12 inches shorter). In several rooms the PO installed one window at the top of the old window frames, and the other at the bottom. Needless to say, it is hilarious and sad all at the same time. The PO opened up the inside plaster and outside cedar clapboards with a circular saw, removed all of the original framing and weight pockets for the original windows, kinda sorta framed out the holes with 2x4s, and patched it all up with plastic sheets stapled over chipboard, leaving no siding to replace what he chopped off. Not kidding. When he was done he threw all the window trim and the windows in the burn pile and had a BBQ. There is no trace of the original windows left.

The original windows will be rebuilt (they are rough, too!!) and original style wood framed storm windows will be made. But what should I do about the other 22 windows? Normally I am a staunch fan of keeping the original windows, but they are gone. As I see it I have two options:

A: Either learn how to build or find a craftsman to build new old style double hungs. There are a lot of Amish in my area and someone suggested they might be a good source for custom windows. I have not looked into this.

B: Buy modern wooden replacement windows in the original sizes.

Either way I will have to recreate the exterior window trim, and I plan on making old fashioned wooden storms for the windows regardless of which option I take: until I plant my Norway Spruce windbreak I need as many ways to seal up my windows for winter as I can get!! Plus I don't mind ladders, and it is only twice a year, right?

Any advice or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

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Go with the Pella windows, my father-in-law builds them ;-)

Though you won't have to pay the money for rent, it may be prudent to put away a similar amount each month for when the furnace, water heater, roof, etc need to be replaced. This is my first home and though I knew on an intellectual level how expensive it is to keep up a home, it still surprises me. I have a relatively new furnace, and yet it just cost me $1000 for some maintenance that I wasn't expecting. Good thing we have a fund labeled "emergency use!!" I'll do roofs, siding, plumbing, wiring, drywall, etc etc but I just didn't feel comfortable tearing into my furnace!!

Well said, you never know when it will hit you either.  Last July we had a fluke rain on night and I got 15" of water in my basement.  First time ever and in the middle of July I had to replace the mother boards of both my furnaces.  One expense I didn't think I would have in July. 

Right there is why my replacement boiler sits on a concrete boiler shelf 18" above the floor.

The boiler installer didn't like putting it up there, but it's there.  The boiler installer was me.

I can see no reason why furnaces sit on floodable floors and have long trunk ducts up to the ceiling either, beyond it being easier for the installer.

Now you tell me!  If I'm around the next one will be up, up and away!

You didn't ask.

My true motive also included setting the boiler at a convenient height for the fool who services it annually.  I wanted to enable the old goat to sit on a stool rather than work kneeling.

Guess who services the boiler.

I had a contractor who does a lot of Historic District projects come in this morning with his HVAC guy, he's giving me a quote on a new high efficiency furnace, the furnace here now is 30yrs old, and he is going to quote me on 2 more brands of windows, both significantly less expensive than the quotes I've gotten so far. He's entusiastic about a brand called A-Craft, which is made locally in So. Minneaplis, which he says others in my Historic District have gone with, so we'll see where those additional quotes come in at. The goal is to get both the new furnace AND the windows/front door for under 10k, he believes I maybe able to pull that off going with either the A-Craft or, I think he said, Winslow. So we'll see what the numbers look like and go from there.

The roof is less than 5 years old and the water heater is 9 years old, but the house has been sitting vacant for a good three to four years, so it doesn't have 9 years of use on it.

I'll definently sock money away for the unexpected, but I'm trying to anticipate and do preventive maintenance as best as possible. :-)

Thanks guys!

Jonathan, you will be interested in the Controlling Old-House Maintenance article I wrote for OHJ back in '93:



2011 prices quoted for Marvin Ultimate double-hung, bare pine interior, primed pine exterior, no screens, no divided lites (1/1), oil rubbed bronze hardware, Rough Opening (RO) dimensions approx.:

[30x61 @ $450]; [26x61 @ $426]; [22x61 @ $404]; [26x73 @ $468]

Caveat: (though I don't think it mattered much) I have a "contractor acct." & we haggled on prices for this and subsequent project.

BTW: I think the price goes up disproportionately for Emergency Egress qualifying windows.


Our problem is the opening being round at the top is already fixed in size. So we are getting a custom build rather than just a replacement.

It is hard to see in the picture in my reply below, but the opening has been hand made round. Pretty good craftsmanship here piecing the arch together. The window itself was not anything great as it was not being used in living space so left pretty rough. The other half of the attic was finished for maids quarters (we guess) and those windows were "finished" rather nicely and single hung.

So the custom finishing is more costly and as I stated that half circle is almost 1/2 the price of the window.

We plan on putting an awning window in. This will allow some ventilation and keep the occasional weather we have out.

Bill, no, I wasn't responding to anyone in specific.  I was just throwing "out there" that $1,000/window isn't a typical cost, even for the NYC metro area, so if a window is priced at $1,000 there's something special about it that isn't being mentioned.  I think our windows are fairly tall, which makes them special, but the price isn't that bad considering they can be painted and stained and repaired.


I have been dragging my feet on this project. Now I was just was told by the wife she went in the attic to clean and the place was full of dust/dirt from our recent windy whether. It can kick up dirt out here in NM. Anyway, the windows are a go now per the boss.

I hear ya' there.  My to-do list is often rearranged by my boss's sudden change in priorites.  Cute attic story: She went to the attic, looking to find stuff to fill the new kitchen cabinets, and came down to inform me that there are "tree and critter droppings" in the attic? "Tree droppings?"  "Critters?" Turns out our roof was sheathed in the Spring and maple buds flew into the attic until the attic windows were intstalled.  Also, there are droplets of sap bleeding out of the framing which she thought was from a critter infestation. I showed her the same droplets (but hardened by 60yrs) on a length of ceiling joist (CJ) we replaced.


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