Wood Window Alliance examines the Downton Effect

15 December 2017

The Wood Window Alliance has published the latest chapter of its 2017 trends report, Windows on the World: The Downton Effect.

The report highlights that period properties are experiencing a resurgence in sales as a result of increased consumer interest in British heritage and history. Historic houses are now some of the most sought-after on the market, with their increasing scarcity enhancing their appeal and bankability.

Insights are supported by research from 1,000 UK homeowners and expert commentary from Sarah Latham, founder of Etons of Bath, an interior design agency specialising in period properties. The result is a fascinating snapshot into some of the key trends impacting the property market and how people live in their homes.
 

The three key trends are:

1. Preserving the past in the face of the future

Perhaps no surprise in the context of Brexit, 71% of homeowners agree that it is important to retain British heritage, whilst 80% say that period buildings are important to maintaining heritage in the UK.

Many homeowners are embracing the concept of ‘Heritage Gain’, and are restoring the history and heritage of a property when it had previously been removed.

Just over half would prefer to live in a period property, with Victorian and Georgian winning the battle of the historical styles. But, perhaps contrary to expectations, it’s not just the older generation who want to ensure we remember our roots –74% of Millennials say it’s important to retain British heritage and more than half (58%) of Millennials find period properties the most desirable.

2. Protecting the period premium

The desire for heritage means that people are willing to pay an average 11% more for a house with well-maintained period features. According to British homeowners, wood trumps plastic when it comes to character, yet almost half of those living in period properties have sadly installed PVCu window frames in their homes thanks to outdated preconceptions in the aesthetics versus functionality debate. Years of such poorly informed decisions have left a scar on many heritage and character properties.

In addition, perhaps because of outdated beliefs around energy efficiency, people are still settling for plastic in their homes despite more than half (56%) of homeowners saying that wooden window frames have the most character. In contrast, just 8% say the same of PVCu frames.

3. Putting the character into new builds

Heritage in the home doesn’t necessarily have to mean adhering to one style – nearly two thirds of homeowners believe that period homes can have some modern elements, and half enjoy mixing modern and period styles.

Regardless of whether they live in a period home or a new build, two in five homeowners like their house to have period character, such as lovingly restored original floorboards, beautifully crafted timber windows or original handcrafted stone fireplaces.

Why this is great news for joinery manufacturers

Tony Pell, Chairman of the Wood Window Alliance, commented on the report: “As an organisation which proudly blends both the past and the future – tradition and innovation – in the manufacture of high quality, beautiful timber windows, it is reassuring to see the value that is still placed on heritage when it comes to our homes.

“Whilst this trend is undoubtedly positive, it brings to the fore the challenge that we have faced as an organisation for many years – how to rectify the misconception that you must compromise aesthetics or historical accuracy for practical functionality when it comes to older properties.

“Nowhere is this more relevant than with windows. But too often, a misplaced and outdated fear of draughty wood windows, soaring energy bills and high maintenance requirements has left elegant period properties scarred with starkly out of place PVCu windows.

“Huge technological strides in the wood window manufacturing process mean there is no longer the need to trade beauty for performance durability or efficiency. Today’s fully-finished wood window frames have an average service life of 60 years and simply require a new coat of paint every eight years or so.

“Well-maintained, there is evidence to suggest good quality timber windows could last at least a hundred years. What’s more, timber windows are particularly suited to triple glazing, making them incredibly efficient.”

The report has been developed as part of the Wood Window Alliance’s 2017 marketing campaign, and aims to help a range of stakeholders understand consumer motivations to help further the incorporation of timber window frames into UK homes.

Download the full report here: http://www.woodwindowalliance.com/medialibrary/uploads/Documents/pdf/WWA_The_Downton_Effect.pdf

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