Home Buying in Cambridge>Question Details

1st Time Buy…, Home Buyer in Cambridge, MA

How old are windows in Cambridge on average? I.e. how new can one reasonably expect?

Asked by 1st Time Buyer, Cambridge, MA Mon Jun 20, 2011

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Elizabeth Bolton’s answer
I just wanted to leap in in defense of older windows though it sounds like you're talking about windows that aren't that old - just not that good. Replacement windows mean that windows have become disposable items with short life spans. I imagine this is what your inspector pointed out - replacement windows - or similar windows of relatively recent vintage - that are past their prime. Older windows last decades and decades whereas the windows produced nowadays have a very short lifespan.

Original windows in older houses can last 100 years and then, with rehab, last another 100 years. An older window with a good storm is a very good match for a new window in terms of energy efficiency. I think replacement windows are one of the biggest scams of our lifetime. Unless you get very expensive ones (aobut 1K per window for a typical window) they are gross in terms of aesthetics and architectural integrity - and even the best ones will not last as long as the originals.

We're very lucky in this area to have superb window restorers. I had mine rehabbed by windowrepair.com and recommend them highly.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 21, 2011
If the inspector says the windows are in need of immediate replacement (or even if it's within the year) I suggest you ask the seller to help pay for the replacement by either a cash rebate or you could try and have some replaced before closing. You would need to negotiate that provision before signing the PS contract. Windows are not cheap to replace so expect the seller to negotiate this point or possibly reject your request. You then have to ask yourself how much you love the property and how much of the financial burden are you willing to take on yourself.

Good luck!

Every property on the market in Cambridge: http://goo.gl/dmS8d
Web Reference: http://territory.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
Liz makes a great point on the older windows . If you keep them in good working order they have lasted for how many years already ... with care and the proper maintenance they will continue to last and protect your home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 7, 2011
Just wanted to add an Amen to Elizabeth's answer. The old wood windows in this area are hardwood from an era long gone and unless you pay big bucks you won't see them in any new or newly renovated homes.... I firmly believe that these windows, properly rehabbed and combined with good storm windows are superior in looks and functionality to any of these new windows---which will need to be replaced every 25 years. Windowrepair.com also teaches classes in window repair and I did mine myself....very gratifying! I say restore, don't replace!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 21, 2011
Thanks everyone for your great answers. They are very helpful. I'm looking at a small condo in a high-rise - one side is predominately windows - I believe heating costs are high..so I am looking at replacing them, wondering if the seller will help me with it.(Realised at inspection stage that the windows are old.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 20, 2011
That's a really interesting question! You got a great answer from James about the facts. I would've thought most homes in Cambridge are much older than 64 years - there are many homes built in the 1870-1920 period - fortunately, the windows tend to be younger than that!

What you can expect depends a great deal on what kind of property you're looking at. For example, if you're looking at renovated condos or townhouses, you should expect to find new replacement windows that tilt out for easy cleaning - a renovation that doesn't upgrade the windows may not be a quality renovation. But if you're looking at a multifamily home that's been owned by one or two families during it entire lifetime, you may find windows that are 25-40 years old! In which case, James is right, changing the enitire frame of the window isn't likely to happen unless you do a gut renovation. They can be upgraded to be functional for comfortable living though.

Generally speaking, windows more than 15 years old, are past their prime, and you should factor the cost of replacing them into your offer on the property.

You seem to be aware that windows are one of the big ticket items that effect the value and overall condition of your property - along with roof, siding, plumbing, electrical - if these things are ok, the property is in good shape, if they are not ok, they should be the first repairs you make on your new home.

One tip about windows, siding and roofs - usually one side of a house gets more weather than the others - so it is possible to do maintainance and repairs in stages if they are not in terrible condition - repair the side of the house that gets the most weather first, then each year, do another side - one way to budget for big ticket items.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 20, 2011
The median age of homes in Cambridge is approximately 64 years (29 years being the national average). Boston/Cambridge is, after all, a very old town! It's nearly impossible, or just very very difficult, to completely replace a window. Unless a home has been completely renovated, the part of the windows that might have been replaced are the glass and moving parts when rainwater starts and drafts start to enter the home through the windows. The frame of the window is usually the same age as the home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 20, 2011
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