Acquiring and renovating a historic home is a Herculean task that can at times become a lifetime project or a joint family affair. Be they from the Victorian, Mansard roof, colonial, or industrial period, these picturesque houses often have architectural characteristics that should be respected and conserved. So when the passage of time has left its mark on some of the materials, asking the right questions becomes important.

1. Are we free to change everything?

The local municipality often regulates the renovation of historic homes, particularly if the building is listed as a Quebecois heritage property. Owners must consult the City to know what updates are legally permitted. Municipalities will often want to conserve the same types of doors and windows and their styles of trim or casing, so you’ll have to imitate what’s already there.

2. Do I renovate or replace?

When completely replacing doors and windows of an old house is impossible, you’ll have to install an insert window. When possible, the original trim and casing are left intact and the doors and windows are simply removed from the frame. Usually the casings were made at the same time as the doors and windows, because the entire house was built on site.

If replacing the entire window is an option, you should take it. Unlike with an insert window, where the frame of the house is inaccessible, a standard installation ensures that the space between the frame of the house and the window is properly insulated.

3. How do we marry the old and the new?

A renovation is often a dramatic affair. Under the right conditions, however, the modern and the traditional can make for a spectacular mix. If you can, don’t hesitate to diversify your materials: stainless steel, for instance, marries perfectly with stone. You can also find other materials or shapes that will harmonize well with older designs. For example, Vaillancourt Doors and Windows offers architectural windows inspired by the Victorian era. You’ll find inspiration and sound advice on the website of the Amis et propriétaires de maisons anciennes du Québec (“Friends and owners of Quebec’s old homes”).

4. What will I get out of this?

You have a vested interest in renovating parts of your historic home, particularly your doors and windows. For instance, it could translate into energy savings, considerably reducing your electricity bills. Your house will also be more secure, comfortable, and inviting.

Still have questions about updating your doors and windows? At Vaillancourt Doors and Windows, we’re happy to advise you on your options and help you make the right decision. Find the nearest retailer and bring a photo of your house so your consultant can better assist you.