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The Greenest Building is the One Already Built – Historic Home Preservation

The Greenest Building is the One Already Built

Historic Home Preservation


Living in the Tri-Cities we are fortunate to be surrounded by a wealth of historic architecture. It adds richness to our streetscapes, neighborhoods and especially our downtowns.  Together with the Fox River it is the defining characteristic of this place we call home.  There are houses dating to the settlement era of the 1840s among us. It continues through the decades, representing nearly every style of architecture popular in America since, from high style to homey.

Oftentimes people think of historic houses as more expensive to own, maintain and heat. This can certainly be true depending upon condition, size and insulation but as a rule it is overstated and tends to not take into account the total cost of new vs old.  For instance, by the time a house is 15-20 years old it will be needing a new furnace, air conditioner, water heater, roof and possibly windows. You could say if a house is 15 years old, it might as well be 150 years old.  It is a fact of homeownership that things must either be repaired or replaced. Newer windows are almost always a replacement item. By contrast, old growth wood windows can last hundreds of years.  Together with a storm window, their energy efficiency is competitive with double pane new windows.  The warm air loss is really in the area around the frame and that can be insulated. If a new triple pane low E glass window has an R-value of 6 and an historic window has an R value of 1.5 it would appear that the new window is four times more efficient. While technically true, when you consider the current recommended R values for walls are up to R-21 and attics are up to R -60 it’s easy to see that any windows are just a big hole in our walls. As a result, the time frame to be net ahead on new high efficiency windows can be decades. By then, they may need to be replaced again.

Speaking of windows, for those homeowners who are already loving a vintage home, keep in mind window and doors are the major architectural and character defining features of your home. If you are getting new windows or doors, try to keep them the same style as the originals.  Getting whatever is current no matter the style of your home can end up looking akin to stripes and polka dots which is not helpful to value.  Likewise, historic window sash was most often painted dark and not white. Look around and notice those homes with darker sash and see what a difference it can make.

Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles all have historic preservation commissions who want to be a resource for homeowners. They are staffed by professionals and made up of your knowledgeable neighbors.  Let them help you strategize options before you purchase new doors or windows or a historic home itself. Likewise, The Kane County Historic Preservation Commission is also a resource for all county residents.


Shauna Wiet, Broker

Miscella Real Estate

Phone: 630-849-6223

Chairman of the Kane County Historic Preservation Commission since 1988

Miscella Broker since 2005

BS in Housing and Environmental Design from Illinois State

Masters in Urban Planning from Illinois; specialization in Neighborhood and Preservation Planning


Interested in links to find more information?

Check out the Links Below:

City of St. Charles, IL

City of Geneva, IL

City of Batavia, IL

Kane County, IL

How to Preserve:

 Old House Guy:



Established in 1976, Miscella Real Estate is a team of full time, licensed Brokers who bring a solid background of knowledge and skills necessary to navigate today’s real estate climate. Miscella Brokers are skilled in assisting first time home buyers, those who are looking to downsize or scale up, initiate new construction or renovate a fixer-upper. Miscella agents know all aspects of the Fox Valley marketplace and serve all price points.


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