Historic buildings and homes often occupy a special place in people’s hearts and imaginations. Here in Massachusetts, we’re fortunate enough to be virtually surrounded by historic buildings. While some prefer newer construction, the popularity of sites like Circa Old Houses and their crossover HGTV show Cheap Old Houses indicates that architectural charm and history remain strong motivators for buyers — and entertainment.
Our own Salem has a strong connection with historic homes and the pop culture: the iconic cult classic “Hocus Pocus” was filmed here in 1995, and you can visit the Ropes Mansion (built about 1727) and see the inspiration for the Sanderson Sisters’ home in the House of Seven Gables (built in 1668).
While it can be easy to romanticize a historic building, these historic sites required maintenance and protection to survive into the present day. The climate and weather in Salem can be brutal, and older buildings tend to feel the effects more acutely than newer ones. This is where it can get complicated. Historic buildings have special rules surrounding what you can and cannot do to them, so it’s important to work with a company that knows how to install storm windows correctly. It’s also extremely important to use high-quality materials, which ensures longevity and will maximize the benefits of storm windows.
Today we’ll be looking at what storm windows are and why historic buildings stand to benefit from them. When you’re finished reading the blog, if you have questions or are interested in exploring your options with a member of our team, you can reach one of our experts by calling 978-741-0424.
What Are Storm Windows?
Storm windows are windows installed outside of an existing window to cut down elemental exposure and add a level of wind protection. A&A Services offers storm windows by Point 1™, and their products combine thermal performance, architectural preservation, aesthetics, and budget-friendliness. Our storm windows make it possible to maximize energy efficiency without sacrificing appearance. We have a look that’s sure to blend in seamlessly with the exterior, and offer styles in double-hung, sliders, picture windows, and specialty shapes.
In Salem, we are close to the water, and you likely understand the damage moisture and wind can do to the side of your house or even its interior. Older structures in our area may require the additional protection of storm windows to combat natural erosion. Storm windows can help shield historic buildings’ vulnerable pain points from the full force of nature. We offer GreenSky financing and 5-star service, and our Point 1™ Storm Windows can help you protect your historic building.
City of Salem: Design Guidelines
If you own a home or commercial property in Salem’s historic district, you’re likely familiar with the many requirements the city has to maintain the look and integrity of your edifice. This includes storm windows – when you’re ready to add new storm windows or replace old ones, there are guidelines you have to stick to – a link to Salem’s updated design guidelines is available here. They encourage “weatherization improvements that have minimal impact to historical fabric including sealing or caulking around exterior and interior trim, installing weatherstripping, and installing storm windows (either exterior or interior).” (page 54). Further, page 59 indicates the Historical Commission reviews “paint color for storm windows”, stating that “color should minimize impact”. Essentially, you have to choose storm windows that don’t substantially alter the overall look and feel of your historic property or make it stand out from the surrounding buildings. That said, Salem’s current website confirms that there are some aspects the Commission leaves up to the owner:
“…the Commission has no jurisdiction over the following: terraces, walks, driveway materials and sidewalks (provided that they are substantially at grade level), storm doors, storm windows, screens, window air conditioners, lighting fixtures attached to the building, antennae and similar appurtenances, interior work that does not affect the exterior in material, design or outward appearance, or landscaping.”
But keep in mind, the rules around historic buildings are prone to change, and are periodically updated. Consider bookmarking the Salem government website to keep a clear line of sight on the rules. A&A Services knows how to stay within bounds.
Salem Historic Landmarks Commission: Guidelines and Certificates
Although the current rules governing storm windows are not as hard and fast as those concerning structural changes, the City of Salem Historic Landmarks Commission does endorse the idea of adding storm windows to historic buildings. As per their guidance:
“Exterior storm windows should be considered because they are thermally efficient, cost‐effective, reversible, and allow the retention of original windows”
In their FAQs, there’s a helpful entry called “When Do I need Commission Approval?” Many projects require special approval and certificates before the work begins, especially if any of it is visible to the public. You can find a Certificate of Appropriateness, of Non-Applicability, and of Hardship, on the Historical Commission’s website.
Point 1™ Storm Windows
Our Point 1™ storm windows satisfy the highest consumer standards, and our teams can make sure you know how to properly care for them after installation. Improper installation by a less-skilled contractor, or poor maintenance by a well-intentioned property owner can cause condensation build-up that can adversely affect the building. Point 1™ storm windows are double weather-stripped with double finned seals to ensure an impenetrable barrier against wind, dust, water – even noise! If properly installed by a contractor like us, you can rest assured that your windows are protected and water damage kept at bay.
Storm Window Installation in Salem, MA
Now that we’ve considered the requirements for adding storm windows to historic buildings in Salem, MA we can move on to the more pressing question: Do I need to add storm windows to my historic building or home?
While new construction may not need storm windows, best practices urge historic buildings to seriously consider installing them. When it comes to preservation, it’s generally best to err on the side of safety. A&A Services knows how to properly install storm windows, and our selection of Point 1™ Storm Windows contains industry-leading materials. Point 1™ Storm Windows deliver products that maximize energy efficiency by addressing pain points around window jambs and can enhance the appearance of a building by protecting the original windows.
If preserving the existing windows isn’t enough, make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules surrounding restoration and renovation, as they can be very specific. Our trained, expert contractors are familiar with the most up-to-date restrictions within the City of Salem, MA, and are able to provide you with expert guidance and installation to make sure you don’t violate any city guidelines, which could incur costly fees and re-installation.
To get a free estimate, head over to our contact form or give us a call at 978-741-0424.