• It's officially the first day of summer, although this means little to those of us living in Florida who visit the beach, swim and ride bikes year round. How long were you able to go this spring before you turned on the air conditioning? Do you open your windows at all during the pleasant winter months that Florida offers? We recently installed a shed at a lovely, well kept historic home that was not marred by modern replacement windows, but where all the historic wood windows had been caulked shut. When I looked at the neighbor's house, they had done the same thing! It blows my mind that someone would live in a house where none of the windows open (disclaimer: I've never lived in a historic house where all the windows opened). For one, it's a big safety issue. By code, every bedroom must have a secondary means of egress in case of emergency. With an inoperable window, you've removed that important safety feature. I know I always made sure that the windows in my children's bedrooms are in working order. Secondly, by caulking all the windows permanently  shut you've automatically made your home reliant on mechanical systems year round for both outside air and temperature control. This is not energy efficient since Florida has so many pleasant days that require no AC or heat, allowing you to turn off that noisy energy hog. To top it all off, you are increasing the air pollution within your home because the air exchange rate of mechanical equipment is much less than a breeze blowing through your windows and doors. I am assuming that people were told that their windows were leaking air and that their ac system would work better if the windows were sealed. While leaky windows do let cool air escape, there are better ways to address this issue while still allowing the windows to operate. A properly maintained historic window will have a tight seal when the latch is closed and can even have weatherstripping installed to further reduce infiltration. And there are many better ways to improve the energy efficiency of historic homes that will prove more effective, and less dangerous than caulking your windows shut.   Over the next few month, we will offer a series of blogs, entitled "Practical Ways to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Historic Home" will address some of these methods. In the meantime, open your windows and doors and let the fresh air in.

  • Stores have already had Christmas trees on display for couple of weeks - and Halloween is barely passed - so we know the pressure of holiday preparations is about to start. Unlike many small businesses, the holiday season isn't a big push time here at Historic Shed. It's rare that someone buys a shed as a gift (although wouldn't your husband be thrilled if you gave him his own man-cave with a big red bow on the door?) and wood window screens are hard to wrap. That's not to say that Historic Shed can't help you around the holidays though. The holidays require more than shopping;  your house needs to be ready for guests, too. Here's some ways we can help: Spruce up the outside of your old house so it looks picture perfect. Wood window screens and screen doors add a great finishing accent to historic homes, particularly when painted a contrasting color. Plus they allow you to open windows and doors without letting mosquitoes attack your guests. Imagine how thrilled your northern guests will be when they leave the snow behind and get to enjoy open windows! Foundation lattice is another attractive detail that makes a historic house worthy of being featured on the annual Christmas card. Clean up the inside of your home to make room for the festivities. Wouldn't your house be just perfect if it didn't seem so cluttered? Does it feel extra crowded around the holidays with decorations and company abounding? An attractive storage shed can provide temporary storage for collectibles, or long term storage for these things that never seem to have found a home, and then provide a place to put your decorations away after the season is over. They look awful cute with a wreath on the door, too. As  a plus, a well-designed shed will enhance your yard year round. Entertain Outdoors. Florida weather is downright lovely during the holidays. Why make everyone stay inside when you can move the party outside? Our pavilion makes a great gathering spot or outdoor kitchen. Need a place for your guests to stay? Making Aunt Wendy sleep on the sofa or blow-up bed again this year in the Living Room? Or squeezing guests into the kids' room? Our Guest Cottage is an affordable alternative to building an addition to your home, without the hassles of construction. And it makes a great home office or retreat during the times when your life is guest-free. Get away from it all. Sometimes the holidays can be a bit overwhelming. Give yourself the gift of a place to hide out and get away from it all with a finished shed. Gift shopping at Historic Shed. Get creative with your gift shopping this year. We offer small storage units, like the bench on the right, that will be appreciated by anyone on your list, custom screen doors, or gift certificates to help someone buy their dream shed. And if you don't shop with us, please try to support as many small, local businesses this season; you'll find one-of-a-kind gifts at great prices while supporting your neighbors and community.

  • Home Office Shed

    While every historic house that we design a shed for is unique, some places have an exceptional story that sets them apart from the rest. This is true of a property settled in the 1880s Florida wilderness where we installed a 12'x14' shed in November that will serve as archives storage. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is located in what was founded as the the town of Limona in 1876 by Joseph Gillette Knapp, a retired judge from Wisconsin. Knapp actively promoted the area and soon convinced E. E. Pratt of the Illinois-based Elgin Watch Company to settle in Limona and to establish a retirement community for employees. Among the Illinois settlers was a talented watch maker, Charles Scott Moseley, his artist wife Julia Moseley, and their young children. Arriving in 1883, the Moseleys at first moved into a cabin that already existed on the lake-front property, but after a fire in 1885, they built the current house. Designed around a central porch to capture breezes on all sides, the house remains largely unaltered since initial construction. A well, bathhouse, shed and a two-story outbuilding constructed in the 1920s are also located on the site. The main house A still-functioning well A storage shed with the bathhouse visible to the right The two-story carport/ studio The current owner, a direct descendant of Scott and Julia Moseley, has an extensive collection of letters written by Julia to her husband during his frequent business trips describing life in the Florida wilderness, along with photographs, artwork and other artifacts from early Florida life. The archives shed was designed to store these items in a climate controlled environment as well as provide a work space for visiting scholars. Historic Shed was hired to design and build the shed in a manner that would complement the existing historic site. Built on tapered concrete piers to match the main house foundation, the shed incorporates cypress board and batten siding, exposed rafter tails, a custom dutch door and gable-end lattice details drawn from the various buildings on the property. Salvaged historic windows for the shed were provided by the owner and still have all their wavy glass panes. The windows are protected by batten shutters which can be fastened during storms to protect the fragile collection. The interior was finished with plywood walls, a pecky cypress ceiling, and cypress flooring. Cypress shelves and a desk constructed out of large cypress planks provided by the owner provide workspace for historians. The shed was insulated with open cell foam and a split mini system air conditioning system provides climate control. The paint scheme was used on the other historic outbuildings originally, using Julia Moseley's favorite colors. Wood shake roof Cypress dutch door that mimics one on the main house Batten shutters for storm protection and shading the interior from direct light Salvaged historic wood windows Desk constructed of cypress planks provided by the owner Pecky cypress ceiling with shellac finish

  • Updated and expanded presentation regarding whether to repair or replace your historic wood windows.Historic Wood WindowsView more presentations from Jo-Anne Peck.

  • When historic wood windows are in need of repair, many homeowners automatically assume it is time for wholesale replacement of all the windows in the house. This is not only an expensive, disruptive project, but also begins a long term replacement cycle that can be easily avoided while saving money, energy and being environmentally friendly. However, many homeowners are not fully informed about the issues related to replacement windows and the options for repair. Below are some of the factors to consider before making the decision to replace the original wood windows in your historic home:Aesthetics - The original wood windows on a historic home are the architecturally correct style and proper proportions for your historic home. Replacing unusual shapes and historic sash patterns often requires expensive custom replacement windows or replacement with a lesser design. Standard style replacement windows often have different frame and muntin profiles that are oddly proportioned on your historic home as well. In addition, metal and vinyl windows do not hold paint well, and are generally stocked in glaring white which does not look aesthetically pleasing on many historic home styles.Cost - When the original wood windows are painted shut, have broken sash cords, broken glass or a portion of the sash or frame is rotted or damaged, the windows are almost always repairable by a carpenter for a fraction of the cost of replacement windows. In addition, repairing historic wood windows does not require modifications to the existing opening framing or replacement of historic trim, which can add unexpected costs to your window replacement job.Longevity - Your wood windows already have a 75+ year track record of service and are infinitely repairable with standard carpentry tools. Most modern replacement windows have an expected life span of 10-20 years before the springs fail, seals break and the glass clouds. These replacement windows do not have replaceable parts, so when this occurs, the entire factory-made unit has to be replaced, starting a continuous cycle of required replacement.Energy Savings - Energy savings studies have demonstrated that a historic wood window, properly maintained, weather-stripped and with a storm window, can be just as energy efficient as a new window. Windows contribute only 10-12% of overall infiltration to the building envelope. Much more infiltration occurs at roof eaves, foundations and even through wall receptacles, dryer and plumbing vents, and fireplaces. According to studies, it can take 60 or more years to recoup enough money in energy savings to pay back the cost of installing replacement windows, but by this time, the new windows have already failed and been replaced again several times over. For Florida homeowners, opening the windows and limiting AC use during the less intense hot months is a much more effective way to reduce energy costs. More cost effective energy savings ideas include installing awnings, operable shutters or insulating window treatments to reduce heat gain, plus adding wall and attic insulation, caulking/sealing around wall and roof penetrations, and installing solar powered attic fans.Environment - Each year, Americans demolish 200,000 buildings, creating 124 million tons of debris. Every window that goes into the dump adds to this problem. Replacing historic windows discards the embodied energy that was used to create the original windows and requires the consumption of more energy to produce the new windows. In addition, replacement windows that contain vinyl or PVC are toxic to produce, create toxic by-products and are not recyclable.Historic Integrity - Repairing rather than replacing historic wood windows retains the original historic fabric of your home. Once they are removed, they can never be truly replaced in kind.

  • Historic Shed recently made a presentation entitled "Why Save Your Historic Wood Windows" at the historic Shuffleboard Courts in St. Petersburg, FL along with City of St. Petersburg Historic Preservation Planner Aimee Angel and window restoration contractor Steve Quillian. Below is the PowerPoint presentation that we used as an outline for our presentation. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below since this is a topic we feel strongly about.Why Save Historic WindowsView more presentations from Jo-anne Peck.

  • Historic Shed is proud to co-sponsor and participate in the "Gut Fish, Not Houses: Why and How to Save Your Wood Windows" workshop on April 18 in St. Petersburg, FL. The workshop will feature discussions on historic designation and tax incentives by Aimee Angel of the City of St. Petersburg Historic Preservation Department followed by a presentation entitled “Why Save Historic Windows?” by Jo-Anne Peck of Preservation Resource, Inc. and Historic Shed. Then craftsman Steve Quillian will lead a demonstration on the restoration of historic wood windows. The half-day workshop will inform local historic property owners, preservation professionals, and craftsmen about the repair and replacement of historic windows and will include some great tips to make the process go smoothly. Anyone is welcome to attend!The event is sponsored by the City of St. Petersburg Historic Preservation Department, the Association for Preservation Technology, St. Petersburg Preservation, Inc., WoodWindowMakeover.com, Preservation Resource, Inc. and HistoricShed.com and is graciously hosted by St. Petersburg's Historic Shuffleboard Club.Date: Saturday, April 18, 2009Time: 1-5 pmLocation: St. Petersburg's Historic Shuffleboard Club, 559 Mirror Lake Drive, St. Petersburg, FLFor more information contact: Aimee Angel, City of St. Petersburg Historic Preservation (727) 892-5395

  • Wood window screens are an integral part of the historic character of many historic homes; however, due to disrepair or installation of replacement windows, it is a detail often missing. Installing wood window screens on historic homes is generally a two-part project for a historic homeowner: first the windows that have been painted shut need to be made operable, then the screens have to be made (or repaired) and installed. Releasing a stuck window is not rocket science, but it generally requires some muscle and patience. A web search for "windows painted shut" brings up countless websites with step-by-step instructions for loosening stuck windows, including HGTV and This Old House (they offer a video). Professional help can be called in if you are not particularly handy or have windows needing more extensive work such as needing to reattach the counter weights (although this is also within most homeowners skill level once they get past the intimidation factor). Once the windows are made operable, repairing or building new screens is a simple carpentry project, but can be time consuming due to the quantity of windows on most historic homes. Window screens are usually simple wood frames (about 1-1/2 to 2" wide) either the full height of the window or half height for some single-hung windows. For casement windows that open outward, screens can be made that install on the building interior. Screening options include fiberglass and aluminum in black, charcoal and silver finishes. Of these, unfinished aluminum most closely resembles the galvanized screen used historically, but provides less visibility than darker screen options. The screen is first attached to perimeter of the frame with staples, then a narrow trim piece, called screen mold, is nailed over the screen edge. Screen hardware consists of metal hangers that attach to the exterior window frame or casing and a hook and eye installed at the base of the screen on the building interior. Traditionally painted black, forest green, or another dark accent color, authentic window screens enhance the look of a historic house while improving function.

  • "There is an epidemic spreading across the country. In the name of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility, replacement window manufacturers are convincing people to replace their historic wood windows. The result is the rapid erosion of a building's character, the waste of a historic resource, and a potential net loss in energy conservation. Typically replacement windows are vinyl, aluminum, or a composite with wood, and none will last as long as the original window. Repairing, rather than replacing, wood windows is most likely to be the "greener option" and a more sustainable building practice."   So begins the introduction to a new Tip Sheet available on-line from the National Trust for Historic Preservation entitled "Historic Wood Windows". The four-page publication has information ranging from why retaining wood windows is more cost- and energy-efficient than modern replacements, maintenance information, lead paint concerns, and references great resources for additional, in-depth information. To download your free copy go to: http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/sustainability/additional-resources/July2008WindowsTipSheet.pdf   Windows are a primary character defining feature of a historic home, yet are at the most risk for wholesale replacement during home renovation projects because homeowners don't know how easy they are to repair. The result is often a costly project that diminishes the historic character of the home and actually increases long term maintenance and replacement costs. This is because most modern windows touted as "maintenance free" are actually better described as "unable to be maintained". Unlike historic wood windows that can be repaired to function indefinitely, most modern windows have an anticipated life span of twenty years. After this time, the spring mechanisms give way and the seals around the glass fail, often causing condensation or fogging on the panes. Added to this, if the glass and/ or frame of a modern window is damaged by a projectile, the unit generally requires a factory repair or total replacement. Compare this to a historic wood window that can be repaired by a handy homeowner or a local woodworker when the weights let loose, a pane is broken or sash rots.   Another common fallacy about replacement windows is that they will save dramatically on energy costs. While most modern replacement windows offer a higher R-value than traditional windows, the resulting energy savings do not cover the costs of the replacement windows within their twenty year service-life. Other energy savings projects such as insulating the attic, adding weatherstripping around windows and doors, adding shading devices such as awnings and installing solar powered attic fans are better energy saving investments that don't result in the loss of historic fabric of the home.