Doors and Windows Ordinance

The title references a city ordinance cracking down on blight by requiring owners of vacant properties on occupied blocks to install doors and windows and make them look occupied. More info here if you’re interested. I’m a big fan. I love it that the city is doing something effective to prevent vacant properties from being a public nuisance. I love even more that they’re acquiring the legal means to harshly punish millionaire blightlords, including seizing their property even if it’s outside of the city. Some of them live notoriously in main line mansions. I love this ordinance, but I’ve been in violation of it for four months. As of today, not anymore!


Yes, my windows arrived! Now from looking at these photos you might be wondering a few things: They’re off center in the openings. We pre-framed the openings for standard size windows, and made the framing asymmetrical where I think they’ll look best from the inside of the house. The plan was to add fancy PVC trim to the outsides and then when I get around to having the back of the house stuccoed, the stucco can be built out to make the openings look smaller than they are now so they’re all symmetrical. Capping them with aluminum was included with the installation, and I decided that I don’t and never will really feel like putting nice trim on these windows that face a light well and someone else’s wall. Plus the capping makes them look sorta decent from the outside until I get around to stuccoing these walls 2 years or so from never. When I do get around to it, there’s an equally good chance that I’ll never care about this again. Obsessing over teeny details is for before you get them.

But teensy details I do have. I love old windows. These look about as close as you can get, except they’re not old and meet EnergyStar standards. Old windows are still prettier. But, these tilt in and the release to tilt them is hidden on the sash lock. My sash locks are antiqued brass on the first floor, so they kinda look original-ish. I also ordered them with sash lifts. And the vinyl tracks for the sashes to slide in are thin and set into a wooden jamb. Outside, they’re aluminum clad but look very crisp, no ugly rubber gaskets or anything. Love, love love. I still have a soft spot for the imperfections of an old window, but these really, really make more sense. I may have to live without a dishwasher to make up for what I spent on them, but it’s worth it.






Now in the bathroom, I decided I needed privacy glass since the window will remain long and go right behind the toilet. I wanted frosted, not a pebbled texture so it would look soft but sleek. I think from these photos you can tell that you’re not missing much by losing the view of the light well. Here it is:


And did you notice something else in that photo? Something maybe just as exciting as the windows? Yes, a bathroom floor! They’re doing my vestibule, too. I had nothing to do at my house today and wasn’t going to go into the city at all, but there’s no way I could resist seeing all this action. Here’s one more shot of it:


Yes, it’s starting to look like a house! Now why am I having the floors tiled now before the walls go in? I’ll tell you in April. But leave it to say that the scheduling of this project is a little disjointed.

As for scheduling, a funny thing happened this week. I have a general contractor handling my insulation/window/chimney project and am getting a heavily subsidized loan for the work. They subbed the windows out to the official Marvin dealer in the Philadelphia area. After about 2 1/2 months of not hearing anything, I e-mailed my contact with the agency to find out when they were going in, didn’t hear anything, and then after a week and a half or so, called the window subcontractor directly. This isn’t how normal people do it. It confused everyone. I heard as much during the call I got on Tuesday. I felt bad. I don’t like being pushy or demanding. But on the other hand, the windows are in. Unfortunately, they were going in on the same day I had a tiler scheduled already. I explained the situation to the tiler and all is well. At least they’re still speaking to me.

And one more tidbit: today I was driving past Carpenter Square, a tony modern development about 10 blocks north of me selling for about 6 times what I paid for my house. You can read about it here if you want. And they named it after a tool I use to draw lines on things. They have Marvin’s economy line of windows (which are still great windows, actually, but wouldn’t give me that old house look I wanted). I have Marvin’s fancy line. This either means I’m insane about my priorities for spending money, or I’m very smart to do things myself so I get what I want. Your pick. Anyways, here’s what the bougie houses look like. They’re nice, but I think I’ll always have a soft spot for old. Maybe in 40 years or so these will get beat enough that I’ll hear them call my name.

Source: Naked Philly


11 thoughts on “Doors and Windows Ordinance

  1. Mary Elizabeth

    Wow, the windows are great and the floor looks like one that could have been put in between the Jazz Age and the post-war period.
    Don’t worry about how “normal people” do things. You got your windows, and you probably apologized profusely for not knowing the system.
    Can you get a used dishwasher and switch it out for a new one later?
    Another step closer to a real home for you!


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Hmm, interesting! I never thought of it that way. I was going for a mix of modern and traditional though. I’m very pleased with how clean the capping looks though, especially since it’ll probably be a couple years before I make any other improvements to this area (except the fascia, which is to be replaced when my roof is white coated)


  2. Margaret

    I have never really looked closely at windows in a stucco house before. I noticed the window is in a little from the outer wall. When and if you re-stucco in the back, do you take the stucco around the edge and up to the window trim?


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yes, I’ve seen it done this way before, and I really like the way it looks if the corners of the stucco are rounded off. But then, these windows basically face a light well so I’m not sure how much aesthetics really matter as long as it’s presentable. My house has load bearing brick walls that are 10 inches thick. Stucco could be applied to a wood frame house, in which case the windows would sit on the outside because the walls are thinner. I had some flexibility about exactly where the windows would go,but I think this way protects them from the rain a bit more. And I framed out most of the walls on the inside to add insulation, so I still have deep interior window sills.


  3. Jo

    Very creative in changing the symmetry of the windows for your own interior design. I never would have thought to do that. It’s looking good. The tile IS exciting. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Well, keep in mind that I never envisioned the whole openings being filled in with aluminum capping. I was going to do something harder and build out the stucco to make them look symmetrical again. But these windows are so far back in a corner that I can’t imagine ever caring. I mean, if my next door neighbor hates them and I can talk them into painting their house a light color to bring more light into my house, maybe!


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yes, even when the house looks like such a wreck, it’s important to think about how these little details will affect the finished product. Although as a decorator, you’ll probably not be working alongside gut renovation jobs too often… or will you?



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