Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:01 am

Accidental double posting
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Postby Devin » Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:10 am

Re: This thread

Bitasean, glad you like the stuff that’s being posted; - there's more where that came from.


Re: Connolly Entrance

Graham, although I remember going up that escalator entrance off the street many times, I don’t remember noting the lamps or stair railings.
Have to say I always found that entrance to Connolly a bit depressing, and overall I find the new arrangement better, esp. the way it interconnects the areas east and west of the Station. Though, true, the underpass walkway is a bit bleak.


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This is not a ‘Before & After’ but an ‘In Progress’ – The building is a well known pub at Leonard’s Corner (from which the pub takes its name), at Clanbrassil Street Upr. / SCR. Some of you may remember, about 4 or 5 years ago, the pub had a makeover as a ‘Café Bar’. It was quite a tasteful job, with a simple interior and pubfront. The sash windows, quoins and parapet were painted cream, and I think the brickwork was carefully repointed too. All in all a nice job, maintaining the architectural character of the building (doesn't happen too often with pub makeovers!).
But suddenly, about a year ago, this happened. The original sashes were replaced by double-glazed timber swing-open mock-sashes. The remaining real sashes you can see here had about another hour to go in the building :( . I think the upstairs was being fitted out as apartments at the time. Again, an inner, insulating window, or the draghtproofing of the originals should have been the option.

And, as before, the building was not listed, so nothing could be done.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:03 pm

What a shame - especially as two-over-twos are quite rare in such quantities and are more elegant (I think) than one-over-ones. Look how awful those upper hinged-out parts are :(

Also a pity in light of the earlier repointing - what an excellent job.

A landmark Victorian building in Dundalk here - underwent a decent restoration in recent times, including brick conservation and the removal of a billboard to the side (shadow still evident), but these PVCs went in:

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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Fri Jul 15, 2005 8:24 pm

Nice building - the hood mouldings over the windows are cute. They should have done the decent thing and reinstated correct windows along with the other work.


Graham Hickey wrote:What a shame - especially as two-over-twos are quite rare in such quantities and are more elegant (I think) than one-over-ones.
Yes, they were lovely. The (Leonard's Cnr) pub seems to date to about 1870. Like the Connolly Station windows, these two-over-twos seem to be in the transition between multi-pane Georgian sashes and later single-pane sashes. While major buildings like Connolly availed of larger panes as soon as they were available (mid-19th cen.), it seems the change to larger panes was more gradual in less important buildings (like the pub); - apparently it was still cheaper to make the small panes of glass & use ‘Georgian’ sashes (I imagine the opposite is true today).

The attractive handcut brickwork of the pub soon gave way to the sharp machine cut orange brick ( :( ) which was so ubiquitous right up to the start of the Second World War.

Speaking of the Connolly area, another glaring example of PVC in a prominent building is the fine stucco front of the North Star Hotel directly facing the station. It's a Protected Structure, so sashes will have to go back sooner or later :) (& a few survive in the ground floor).
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Sat Jul 16, 2005 6:10 pm

Ah the North Star - probably the most damaged-by-replacement facade in the city, they are ghastly!

Here it is before they went in, with more lovely two-over-twos :(

Image
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby PVC King » Sat Jul 16, 2005 6:15 pm

That building has been ruined alright between the windows and the Centra shopfront which the pre gunthered picture displays very clearly that the original facade had a lot of character.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Monty Gerhardy » Wed Jul 20, 2005 1:03 am

Kevin 123 wrote: In twenty years.... all a quality pvc window will need is an occasional cleaning.


Some of my postings may have been slightly tongue in cheek but this makes a Shinner pontificating on Irish neutrality sound persuasive.
Wooden windows are “idealistic”? Stained softwood six stories up may be optimistic but idealistic?
Firstly security: I know of at least two timber window systems readily available in Ireland that have a Secure by Design licence requiring testing to BS7950. Timber doors with PAS 23 & 24 ratings. Likewise timber AOV’s tested to BS 476-22.
Most modern timber windows have a ‘flush joint’ sash rather then the ‘covered joint’ sash of prevalent in plastic windows. The flush joint is inherently harder to pry open.
Insulation: The best plastic windows have poorer U-values then the best timber windows. (Admittedly 28mm glazing - and associated convection heat transfer - isn’t going to help your case either but then again the traditional upvc marketing spiel was “don’t worry about the mechanical joints, just feel my cavity width….”). Timber windows with a U value of 1.0 are available!
Maintenance: Go back to the beginning of the thread and see the link to the LCA from Mohammad Asif et al at Napier for interesting data on the useful service life of plastic windows. Likewise similar data published by Islington Council last year (https://www.islington.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=2345)
also gives a circa 25 year useful service life for plastic windows. The report goes on to state; “based on the experience of maintenance needs with existing housing stock, Camden Council estimate a life expectancy of 60 years” for timber windows.

One of the few times I would regard timber windows as impractical is when windows can’t be reached from a cherry picker – in these situations give serious consideration to alu-clad timber. None of those stained finishes has a warranty worth the name and opaque finishes will most likely need refinishing after 7/8 years.

If you want to take this discussion into embodied energy content, end of life disposal and environmental impact etc, be my guest. I would contend this aspect of fenestration is even more important given future energy usage and associated factors. That’s when the idealism comes into it and increasingly, realism.

Is mise le meas,

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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Wed Jul 20, 2005 6:03 pm

An excellent report - though it doesn't take into account that the newer PVC product coming on the market now seems to be much more durable than that of even five years ago - seemingly having a life far beyond the average of 20 years stated.
And didn't you youself Monty say that 60 years is now not an unrealistic lifespan for PVC - the very same life as stated for timber in the report?!

One shiver-inducing point made though is particularly pertinent to Ireland - one can only imagine the waste mountain of PVC we're going to be facing in 20 years+. Literally every single one of the 80% of homes being fitted with PVC in the past goodness knows how many years, and at present, plus 90% all the tens of thousands of houses 'getting the windows done' as we speak are going to need their windows replacing at roughly the same time...:eek:
What the heck are we going to do with it all?!

Will regulations have come into effect by then?
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Maria » Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:18 pm

[font=Times New Roman][size=84]Dear All,

I was googling for information on Sash windows in Ireland and came upon this thread and thought perhaps some of you may be able to offer some advice.

I am the proud owner of a 100 year old house in North Inner City Dublin. Its a tiny red brick terrace house with many of the original features still intact. As is mentioned in this discussion in relation to similar properties many of our neighbours bought the houses recently and tore out everything old and replaced it with new features. I have no architectural expertise but I do love the original features in our house and it was one of the reason I was attracted to the house in the first place. Our Sash windows are now in very bad shape and need repair. I have not set a budget yet for this as I have no idea where to start looking for information on the repair or who to go to. I really do not want PVC but fear that repairing them to their original state will be very expensive. Do I go to a joinery or where do I start in trying to keep this beautiful feature in my house?
[/SIZE][/font]

Any information anyone has on this would be most welcome (particularly any ball park figures) on the replacement of Sash windows including a beautiful but small Bay window at the front.

Many thanks.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby ConK » Tue Jul 26, 2005 5:53 pm

The real problem about PVC windows is the price. Nobody prefers them, but the price is so attractive . . . they are really cheap. I was pricing windows for my georgian house they are approx 1.7 metres tall * 1 metre wide. 1 over 1.

For PVC they were EUR 200 each.
For hardwood sash replacements they were EUR 950 each. :eek:
Also to get the old windows renovated and fixed up was around EUR 900 each also.

So for my house it was 8k vrs. 1.6k (double glazed)

I'm afraid I sold out - I'm not happy about it. It was a financial decision. Don't hate us PVC people. ;)
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby anto » Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:00 am

but you might have devalued your house in the mean time, esp. if it is a period house. Not sure if sash windows are/were usually hardwood either. I suppose they last longer.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby ConK » Wed Jul 27, 2005 10:30 am

At the time the original windows were installed the timber was slow grown pine. the fast grown pine available today would be too soft. . . . which is why you have to use a hardwood.

I agree that I devalued the house. But only one of the houses on the street has sash windows, so I was just matching the rest of the street. - also I couldn't afford the sash ones - as mentioned.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Lotts » Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:59 pm

This is why these buildings need to be on the protected list. The decision should not have been your's to make.

Fast grown pine is of course common today. However an important factor is that where pine is used, it is essential to specify the use of heartwood. This has different properties altogether. (If your joiner uses this term interchangably with hardwood look elsewhere).
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Sat Jul 30, 2005 10:14 pm

:D

Yes, an important distinction to make. Hard deal is still expensive though from what I can make out, well on its way to being as expensive as the hardwoods.

It is the unfortunate reality of timber window-making today Maria (and indeed other timber goods), and it's only getting worse because of the dominance of PVC: the more people that want plastic, the more timber becomes a pricey niche product.

Personally I'd live with rotting, shaky original sashes any day over PVC, but obviously most people have rather different priorities :).
The fact that you still have your sashes intact Maria is at least some consolation in the replacement dilemma - to restore windows is generally less expensive than total timber replacement, and secondly you have all the original details in situ, from pane arrangements to timber widths to horn design etc - all of which could be a pain to replicate if the sashes were removed some years ago.

At the end of the day it is up to you as to what you want to go for (as to whether this should be the case is another debate :)), and how much you value the architectural merit of the sashes, and their heritage value.
I've never had experience of having to restore sashes so can't quote you - though saying that, PVC and/or aluminium can prove very expensive also, PVC in particular is by no means a cheap option with all suppliers, particularly that wood-grain effect product.

The value of the original glass in the sashes is also something to consider, as is the undoubted appeal of timber as a natural material. I am ever so slightly deeply deeply biased against PVC so really should shut up - but just to say, people, even with all the money in the world, practice such double standards when it comes to windows it just beggars belief - they swoon over cornicing and fire surrounds, but swing pickaxes at original windows.
A serious redressing of the balance is in order in this country.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby JPD » Sun Jul 31, 2005 11:52 am

What is hard deal?
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:52 am

Deal being a generic term for pine/fir, or rather the actual planks of these woods.
Tons of this was imported into Ireland in the 18th century – in Dublin there used to be a lot of deal yards around the south quays especially, Sir John Rogersons Quay etc, that can be seen on various contemporary maps.

Really though, PVC in this country has got completely out of hand as I experienced first hand over the past week - apologies for the :mad:RANT:mad: that follows.

Having heard rumours of there being some form of life outside the capital called ‘the rest of the country’ or some such :), I spent 8 days or so travelling around Cork, Kerry and down through the Midlands to get there from Dublin.

At this stage I am not easily shocked when it comes to PVC given what we have on the east coast, and what has been posted here by everyone – but I was genuinely astounded from an ‘outsider’ position at seeing the level of damage PVC is doing in this country – both as a replacement material for original windows in vernacular buildings, and as a modern-day design feature in contemporary structures.

Perhaps what amazed me most of all is the sheer amount of the stuff outside of the Dublin region. In the east a much greater selection is on offer both in design and materials, even if that includes varieties of PVC itself, but in the south and west white PVC is completely dominant to an extraordinary degree. To try and give an idea, counting every single building, new, old and everything in between, I’d say PVC accounts for about 75-80% of all windows in the southwest, with about 10% aluminium and 10%ish 1970s/80s timber and original sash. Modern-day timber is practically non-existent outside of the McDowell-like multi-gabled ranches one sees on occasion. What little is about is usually of very poor quality and design and was chosen as a cheaper option to PVC.

There are some pics to follow, but in terms of older buildings there are 3 main types one most often comes across: 1. tall classical buildings lining country town’s main streets, 2. small higgledy-piggledy vernacular houses and shops making up villages and 3. one-off farmhouses dotted about rural roads and mountains.
My impression of the window make-up of these buildings was:

Tall classical - about 10% have original windows.
Village buildings have about 20-30% depending on the conservation ethos of the community which can be strong in places.
Farmhouses: oh dear, the poor old farmhouses :(… Original windows in the standard classical two-storey, three bay over three bay house are on the verge of being completely wiped out! Out of possibly 100 or more I saw, about three had their sashes in situ!
Indeed the only place where sashes proliferate now in detached houses is in ruined cottages on the sides of mountains – there are plenty of them there! :rolleyes:
Admittedly a lot of the damage was done in the 70s as a lot of these houses have exposed aluminium windows (as per Sinéad’s house on the Edwardian Farmhouse thread), but there’s also a heck of a lot with modern PVC.



There’s some pictures below. Obviously presenting an array of PVCed buildings isn’t an accurate representation of what’s out there (though frankly these don’t even remotely reflect the amount of PVC in the average residential street or estate), so there are also some lovely surviving windows pics to be posted soon too.


The most damaged major town I came across was probably Bandon – PVC and white aluminium literally lines the majority of its grand main street :(. At least some originals survive here:

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Mitchelstown is also very bad.

Bantry has been severely hit too – here’s the most prominent building in the town, the Bantry Bay Hotel exposed for the world to see forming a large side of Bantry Square.
It is scandalous that PVC is allowed dominate here:

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A distinctive Cork bay window, destroyed with plastic:

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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:54 am

A typical sight in Irish country towns below, living heritage destroyed and a new idealised version generated with happy clappy paint and window boxes:

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Heritageism gone mad in what is Mitchelstown I think – the render stripped from the façade to reveal a never meant-to-be-exposed crude rubble wall, and sashes removed :mad:

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A lovely Picturesque-gothic building wrecked with PVC frames in Bantry – I saw much worse in other gothic houses where priceless 1830s gothic timber frames have been removed in favour of plastic.

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A fine distinguished building possibly in Kenmare has also got the treatment:

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The (otherwise) delightful tiny little village of Durrus in west Cork:

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…is there anything worse than top-hung casements in older buildings?


The lovely little town of Dunmanway has a fairly decent amount of sashes surviving, but a heck of a lot of this too:

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But much of this pales into insignificance when one sees the state of the so-called heritage town of Cobh. Its distinctive Victorian charm has been ravaged by replacement frames, here’s its landmark hotel:

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And a lovely round-ended terrace showing a before/after-like scenario:
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Didn’t have the time or will to capture half of the devastating damage done to this important town.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:55 am

An important corner building in Bantry:

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A lovely house in Abbeyleix, damaged most of all by a ghastly plastic door:

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A lovely landmark curved building in what’s probably Kenmare. The windows are what make this façade, or rather what once made it :(:

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And as for this key building in Kinsale – I don’t want to know what is going on with those window openings, one can only image the type of window that once was, not least in the window Aladdin’s Cave that is Kinsale :(

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It is simply not possible to exaggerate the level of window destruction across the country – it is mind-numbing to see the damage done thus far. There is very simply very little left of our window heritage in the southeast at least, a sad statement of fact.
For an area that is renowned for its wonderful collection of original shopfronts, it is most frustrating to see the conservation ethos end at the ground floor cornice line.

Also in more rural areas I noted quite a few farmhouses seem to be replacing their modernising 70s aluminium frames with PVC – have they not learned from last time round?!

Without doubt the PVC capital of Ireland, if not Western Europe, is Killarney. Hadn’t visited there in about ten years (though even then you could make out what direction it was going). But now I can say that it is officially the naffest, crassest, cheapest, most vulgar place one can imagine.
The amount of sprawling development around the perimeter of the town is as astounding as the monstrousness of the architecture. There is PVC everywhere!
Every last façade, facia and window aperture is clad, supported or stuffed with the muck. It is unbelievable.

I think Killarney really encapsulates the PVC ‘issue’ in Ireland, i.e. just how impressive the PVC marketing machine has been in managing to move into a market and in the space of 15 years completely dominate it, to the point of pushing the alternative to the brink of extinction. It is amazing how ‘a window’ in Ireland is now essentially a PVC frame, rather than timber as once was, or indeed alu-timber, aluminium or steel.

How the market has changed – to the extent that when one goes out to buy windows for a new-build, in 95% of cases it seems nothing else is even considered. How has this extraordinary turnaround happened?
From what I’ve seen, the new-build house market is utterly dominated by PVC in the south and west – easily 95% would be of PVC from what I saw, with a small smattering of white aluminium included in that.

And this has another major consequence too – variety has disappeared. Now the vast majority of all modern windows are not only plastic, but also white.
And the design of windows (ignoring the woeful nature of it by and large) is equally homogeneous – the same plastic grids, the same apertures, the same vertical casement topped with a smaller top-hinged one, the same chunky proportions, the same lack of depth and relief…
Variety has been killed off.


But really, PVC windows in older buildings - very simply they are sketches, outlines, imitations of what used to be there – not real-life frames that contribute to the architecture, but mere drawings, simulations of what once was.
The PVC window frame, and especially the plastic grid, is not just an affront to the dignity of period buildings, but an insult to architecture on a much broader level.

I take some consolation from the fact that PVC hasn’t quite conquered yet as the building on the country’s most south-westerly point on Mizen Head, essentially ‘Ireland’s last building’, has managed to hold onto its lovely sashes :).
Long may they live.

Image

(I’ll give em six months) :)
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Mon Aug 01, 2005 8:55 am

Looking at and reading all that is bringing back feelings from similar trips around the country.…you are literally in disbelief at what has happened; - arriving in a town, thinking ‘What’s it going to be like? How well have they preserved the place?’, then the inevitable ‘Oh God, it’s been destroyed…there are PVC windows in almost every building’.

And after a while travelling around you stop being angry and just become numb, there is so much white plastic.…in new buildings, old buildings, all buildings. The whole country is just swimming in a sea of white plastic...
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby anto » Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:14 pm

it's an education issue and Irish people's lack of visual awareness. The tidytowns never seems to reward conservation, original windows as something to give points to; they just reward hanging baskets. Awareness of pvc and its inappropriateness in historic buildings is high in Dublin but in provincial ireland, pvc is your only man, then again bungalows galore are the order of the day aswell!
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Mon Aug 01, 2005 6:15 pm

That really is the case though. In the more developed east you're used to seeing the mistakes made in the 70s and 80s with aluminium, cheap timber and early PVC - you gloss over it as you do with much of the inappropriate development from these times.

But when you see tons, literally tons of plastic being installed post 1995, i.e. in the past ten years across the western side of the country, the mind boggles as to the ignorance of local authorities, property owners and the planning system as a whole.
Other European countries like Sweden seem to have put legislative safeguards in place in the 1970s, while even today in this country we still can't control what's happening to older stock.

I've said it before, but what is the Dept of Education doing about the hundreds of schools around the country replacing sash windows with PVC? They have a direct role to play here in safeguarding architecturally worthy school buildings, and in being environmentally pro-active. The scourge of PVC in 1890s-1940s school buildings is one of the worst aspects of the plastic invasion. Suppose you really cannot blame schools for wanting comparitively maintenance-free frames considering their often shoe-string budgets, but PVC's use in schools is particularly inappropriate given the wear and tear they recieve and the difficultly in repair.

Regarding the Tidy Towns, they do have this to say in their information pack:

"The major threat to the overall architectural character of a town or village isn’t necessarily from large one-off developments, but through the day-to-day activities of property owners and occupiers. Try and avoid these potential causes for damage:
. The replacement of timber windows by P.V.C, particularly in historic buildings
. The use of varnished timber instead of paint
. Removal of the traditional plaster finish and pointing-up the stone or brickwork behind - this destroys local traditions and can cause long term damage to the fabric of the building
. Installing "pseudo traditional type shopfronts" which ignore local context and characteristics
. Removal of old boundary walls and outbuildings."


I think a little stronger language is in order than 'try to avoid' :rolleyes:
The Tidy Towns has a mahor role to play also in protecting older buildings from PVC - conservation is a heck of a lot more than window boxes, heritage lanterns and parish pumps surrounded by geraniums.

I think their concern for the problem is summed up perfectly by their current billboard campaign - think it's the one with a guy with paint all over his face and a whitewashed cottage in the background. And what's that inserted into the window aperture?......
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Bob Dole » Mon Aug 01, 2005 9:39 pm

I wonder sometimes when I read this PVC window thread: It seems to me that there are other far more damaging, permanent interventions in the Irish Landscape: at a Planning Scale: one off housing, awful tract semi-d housing, lack of bike paths etc and in terms of "architecture" (in the loosest sense): PVC fascias and soffits, concrete footpaths all round houses, destruction of hedgerows, bungalows and suburban housing in the countryside etc. etc. Sometimes it seems to me that PVC windows seem the least of our worries - they aren't going to last very long anyway ( say 20 years?) and if legislation were put in place, it would be possible to force their reinstatement at some stage in the future.

Though I have to admit the PVC windows in that neo-gothic are as difficult to look at as Sly Stallone's mother.

What does anyone else think? Is this PVC thing simply a small scale "winnable" battle, so people don't focus on the horror of Irish "architecture"?
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:32 am

Bob, there are plenty of other threads about those subjects you mentioned. This one is about PVC.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Maria » Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:18 pm

Dear Graham,

Just logging back in now ,thanks for your notes on sash windows. I will never go PVC but may have to replace the timber in my windows one at a time! I had wondered if we could reuse the glass. There is a joiner on the North Strand road who I think I'll try first and get a few quotes.

I'm not sure why people can't see the value in original features including sash windows I'd take my character full house over a new semi d any day but my mother in law refrs to my house as 'That kip' it may be a kip but its my kip and its a kip with most of its orignal features including fireplaces and sash windows.

I would put a photo of my terrace on here to show the awful things people have done to these beautiful houses but I think it would upset too many people. :(

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Maria
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Tue Aug 02, 2005 6:46 pm

Maria wrote:
I would put a photo of my terrace on here to show the awful things people have done to these beautiful houses but I think it would upset too many people. :(



Your neighbours or people here? I wonder... ;)

As for keeping the glass, there's little reason why you shouldn't be able to. Indeed the restoration of windows often only needs the years of paint stripped back and the odd timber or two replaced, especially the bottom rails of sashes which can be dodgy due to water accumulation.
But by and large you should be able to retain the majority of the original sashes themselves, let alone just the glass!
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