Unfortunately, though advances in materials and building methods have improved, the windows in our homes are destined to be replaced at some point. You may believe that the best option is to replace like with like, but before you actually do that, you should look at the options available to you; and make a more informed choice. Here are some things you may want to think about before you let the builder start
For a period building, you would be well advised to stick as close to the originals as possible (and a listed building will need consultation with the local authority), but for the modern home, the choices are endless. From bow fronts and bay windows, to the plainer looking sash windows and casement frames; the choices can be staggering. The best bet idea is to take a look around the area, and see how others have approached their replacements. You will see some ideas that will have you shaking your head in disbelief, while others will impress and inspire you. If you love the look of your home, then moving too far from your current windows could be a bad idea, but this is an excellent opportunity to give your home a whole new look.
Your choice of material will not only affect the look of your windows it will affect their maintenance too. Wood framed windows can look beautiful in any home, but they require much more maintenance than other materials; so be prepared to keep them maintained or suffer from swelling splitting and things like rot and fungal attack. Metal windows are not as popular anymore, but there is no doubt that they can be incredibly strong and give you the opportunity for bigger window panes, and their maintenance is very low level. UPVC window frames can be a winner all round, as they can be strengthened to give you a large window pane, have next to no maintenance, can be bought in different colours, and can even be grained to look like woods. Perhaps not a purist's choice, but they are popular for a lot of reasons
Make sure you consider a few of the practicalities of your windows. You will need to consider how many openings you need and how they will open. Consider the space in front of your windows (inside and out) and whether there will be a need for a slide mechanism rather than a hinged one. Some windows may even need an automated opening system (available from companies like tealproducts.com), if they are difficult to access or high in a wall. The handles you decide upon should be great to look at, but they should be functional too, and everybody should be able to use them. You also need to think about security, not just from break-ins, but also for the sake of any children that may be in danger if allowed to open a window that is big enough to fall from.
The way you choose your glass is no longer as clear as it was (pardon the pun), and in the UK you now have to have glass that complies with the government regulations applicable to glazing. However, that doesn't mean that you can't have the look you want. Tinted glass is a great way to keep your home private and glare free, while stained glass can add interest and sophistication to an otherwise bland pane. Safety glass is now standard, but if you have kids you may want even tougher glass, and finally, your energy efficiency is important on many levels; so make sure you think about that before plumping for the glass that just gets by the regulations.
Your windows make a huge impact on your home; from the look to the energy efficiency, they will be important. Take some time to consider what you want, and use these ideas as a guide; and I'm sure you will find the best solution for your home.