Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Windows...the eyes to a house's soul

We all know how important windows are to the heritage character of old buildings. All too often we witness, and mourn, the replacement of old sash windows with vinyl replacements or plate glass.  Homeowners are often driven to these decisions by concerns about  energy efficiency - and poor advice.

But there is good advice about window preservation and restoration out there.

Shannon Kyles, my friend and History of Architecture prof at Mohawk College, is passionate about the necessity, the viability and the cost-effectiveness of restoring old windows.

Her Regency Rebuild story appeared widely. I did an article for County and Quinte Living in the Summer 2012 issue. Shannon cut her window restoration teeth on that project.

During the work, she developed a strong working relationship with like-minded window guy Drew Skuce. Over the winter Shannon worked with architect Ron Bean, Drew Skuce and Alan Stacey to create a YouTube video on solutions for old windows titled 'In Praise of Older Windows'.

The video compares the thermal efficiency of a 200 year old window with a storm window with a new vinyl window. Using infrared cameras the team collected data to refute the claims of new window proponents (and salepeople). Nine minutes of smart information to save a 100 year old window.

Shannon is a regular contributor to CBC's weekend morning program 'Fresh Air'. This Sunday (July 6) at 8:00 AM, she will be talking with host with Karen Gordon  about her project. Definitely worth a listen.

Shannon can be contracted to do these readings at your property, for a minimal charge, starting in September.

So it's settled? The eyes have it.


  1. Couldn't agree more about older windows. And they will last for centuries, even in the harshest of climates. There's a 310 year-old sash that was restored a couple years ago in Annapolis Royal. It'll probably last another century or more.

  2. Very well written. Your blog gives all the solution from glass to facades. You and Vision AGI are my personal favorites.