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Double Glazing And Modernisation: English Heritage Wade In

I imagine that double glazing companies and their sales staff must have been cheered by the latest government initiative to encourage home owners to adopt energy saving home improvement measures (which we wrote about earlier on this month).

But now it looks like the drive to modernise properties and help reduce the carbon footprint of our nation’s homes could be under threat, due to a survey commissioned by English Heritage which finds that houses with ‘original features’ – that is houses that have, for example, wooden sashes intact and original door frames still in- sell quicker than houses which remove them.

This is in direct contrast to the survey carried out by the Halifax (which we also wrote about not long ago) that concluded that homeowners believe that homes with double glazing are more appealing than those without (interestingly, English Heritage’s survey used estate agents as its sample group, whereas the Halifax used home owners).

The government’s English House Condition Survey for 2007 – which has just been published and can be read on the government’s website, by clicking the link here – found that 40% of late 19th century houses (which comprise vast swathes of the housing stock, especially in our cities) have opted for double glazing at the expense of the ‘original features’ which English Heritage believe homeowners should be encouraged to preserve.

English Heritage believes that a large percentage of England’s conservation areas are under threat.

This threat, they believe, is in homeowners installing double glazing – or other features, such as satellite dishes or new driveways – which are not in keeping with the feel of the area but which are not prohibited by planning regulations (there are over 3,000 conservation areas in England, and regulation vary from area to area and from property to property).

The debate as to whether double glazing helps encourage prospective buyers to sign on the dotted line occasionally crops up.

The two sides to the argument are represented by this new report by English Heritage – which claims, alongside many property relocation TV shows, it must be said – that original features make a house easier to sell, and the Halifax, whose report claimed that homeowners see the presence of double glazing as a positive feature for a house in economic terms, in the sense that it will lower bills, rather than as an aesthetic handicap to a new property.

So why is English Heritage so eager to wave their report around? We imagine that it has very little to do with how double glazing can help improve the security, warmth and noise pollution issues which can come with old wooden sashes, and everything to do with their own axe to grind, which is of course based on their upper middle class sensibility – that areas should look ‘nice’ and ‘proper’ at the expense of anything else.

But what do you think? With the newer double glazed units firms are able to integrate double glazing into older properties without making a complete pig’s ear of how they look (at least in theory).

So should homeowners really be restricted on choosing economical and safe modifications to their own homes when they are relatively normal houses?

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