Tiny attic window faces South. Historic rules.

Christina BrineApril 16, 2014
My attic is completely open... I wish to finish it out as a masrer bedroom and bath. Three sides of the attic each have one small square window. It's so dark up there! Since the back attic window faces South, I'm looking to replace it with something larger. Problem... I like in an historic district... and the entire back of my house is clearly visible from a side street. So, all changes need to be approved by the Historic committee. I've been collecting books on bungalows and wasted hours googling online... but am having a hard time finding window(s) that complement the windows that I already have. So far... my favorite option is to copy the 2nd floor window of a yacht club circa 1909. However... I don't life in a boat house... or even on the water. The Historic association might have an issue with that. BTW my house a 1929 bungalow... I have no idea who manufactured it. The last photo is the view of my house from a cross street. This town is rather strict about rules. Which is a good thing..... all this research has led me to smarter renovations. So, I won't complain. Anyway, if you have advice on size and shape for my attic window... I will greatly appreciate it!
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ma2 architects
If you are putting a bedroom up there you need to make sure at least one of the windows will provide adequate egress. That will be defined by the building code adopted in your area--check with your building official. If your Historic association is as strict as you say then they will probably not approve much in the way of window changes to the façade of the house. I would suggest that you consider adding operable skylights which they may react more favorably to.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Christina Brine    April 16, 2014 at 3:04PM
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I doubt they will allow as big of a window as the boathouse. A window that large is really uncommon in a bungalow and I'm pretty sure the bottom rendering is of a new Craftsman style house.

I think the largest you might be able to get approval for on the side is maybe one or a double window about the size of the small window on the ground floor. If you want to put anything bigger, they probably will insist it goes on the back gable. Another option might be the more vertical window in the middle, flanked by two smaller windows, and the middle window could be a casement for egress. The space looks constricted by the porch on the front elevation, and they will probably want you to leave that one alone.

Expect questions about the style of window and muntins and so forth. Wood windows with full simulated muntins (inside, outside and between the glass) is preferred, maybe with a coated aluminum exterior. If you are eligible for listing and tax credits, then that has to be approved by the state before you get money, but most of the master bedroom conversion to the attic would qualify. Worth checking out.

It would help your case if you do a digital mock up of what it will look like, and full specs. for the windows, and maybe even have a second or third choice, if they don't like the first one. I used to advise a board like this and they like to try to work with you, and if you have options, that is better than them trying to describe what they want. Also take pictures of similar houses in the neighborhood. I think I see a double window in the gable of a nearby house.

An option might be a low side shed style dormer on the other side, set back some distance from the front façade to minimize its size. This is a big project, and it is helpful to get an architect involved, not just a contractor, to get these subtle details right. Get one well-versed in traditional Craftsman style.

BTW, Like the green roof, that is actually a historic roof color for bungalows, The board and batten siding and forest green color isn't as common. Here are some simple Craftsman houses for ideas. The second has the window arrangement I was describing and the third a shed dormer that might work on the other side.

There is a big bungalow page on Flicker that has hundreds of bungalows of every description on it that might help. Bungalow Home Style has lots of period plans too.
    Bookmark   Thanked by Christina Brine    April 16, 2014 at 3:35PM
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Shuler Architecture
ma2 Architects is correct. If you use a single or double hung window, the size will be quite large (3' x 5') and out of scale with the rest of your house. Consider a casement window even though the rest of your windows are hung units. you can have a bar added to any casement window that will mimic the bar in your lower units. The narrowest casement that works for egress is 24" in my experience which will look consistent with your other windows.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Christina Brine    April 16, 2014 at 3:37PM
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