Saturday, August 28, 2010

Replacement Windows and Closed Porches - A Slummy Pictorial

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Just in case readers weren't convinced by my last post about the effects of things like replacement windows, I've gone through the Hawkman slumlord archives to retrieve some other prime examples of what happens when people like Bashir Moghul, Mahmood Khan, Paul Koenig, and those behind the Danna D III LLC get their hands on properties in NoMi. I even had someone with more architectural knowledge look at these pictures as well, to confirm what it was that I was seeing.

First up is Bashir Moghul. The photo above displays the exact kind of windows that little children are prone to fall out of. Nice work Bashir.

This one was at one point in time an open porch. Not only was it closed off, it was done without anything more aesthetically or structurally sound than plywood.

If you look to the side here, you can see where someone took out a double-hung sash and replaced it with a plywood and vinyl heap of ugliness.

Here's another closed porch and similar mistreatment of the second-floor window.
Look at the first floor windows there.  He's really not even trying at this point.
At least here, Moghul kept the original openings intact.  If someone were to come along and restore decent windows, that job wouldn't be so hard.
Here though, he didn't even bother to keep any openings.  Several windows are just covered up.
The little white diamonds under the plywood are the architectural equivalent of a middle finger.
And here we see what many slumlords have done, removing or covering up a second-story arched window frame.
Several more slumlord shots are coming right up...

Danna D III

Once again, the porch is closed off to add an extra bedroom.
The stained glass on the third floor/attic is thankfully to small to have been bothered with.
Again with the closed off front porch, and the second floor window is just gone.

Mahmood Khan

Despite the enclosed front porch, here's an example where the windows are relatively intact.
These two show one of the most brazen attempts at closing off a front porch.  He doesn't even bother to try and hide the mismatched openings or even the pillars.

Pamiko has the most extensive collection of slummified windows and porches.  I've got extensive notes on where he took out bay windows, stained glass, transoms, and essentially bastardized the architecture of scores of houses in NoMi.  That's been reduced to drivel when one sees something this offensive.  Just start yelling incoherently after each photo and you'll acheive pretty much what I'm going for here.

Once again, the big issue I have with the way that these properties have been mangled is the effect this has on the community. One of the biggest factors in determining who will buy a house is its curb appeal, or "wow" factor. This is why you can have parts of SoMi that are statistically worse than north in terms of crime, but yet have far higher property values. The curb appeal of many of these properties is pretty much gone.

Some of our non-profit partners, such as Neighborhood Housing Services, are committed to restoring front porches on properties they pick up or rehab. But their budget is tight and they can't be everywhere.

In terms of windows, there isn't much that can be done other than to create incentives towards refurbishing, and discourage replacement. But I would love to see much tighter restrictions on the permits required to do any kind of conversion of front porches into bedroom space.

The appropriate preservation of appealing architectural elements will be a crucial element in revitalizing our neighborhoods.


  1. The more I see crappy replacement windows the happier I am that the home I purchased has original equipment. I was initially bummed that the windows were all very old and presumably inefficient, but I'm starting to rethink that assessment.

    Thanks for the informative post(s)...

  2. Jeff, this is an interesting battle to pick. I know there are many people who feel very passionately about the refurbishing vs. replacing debate - I'm not one of them. The real disappointment with most of the photos you've shown here is not that the windows have been replaced, but simply that the craftsmanship is terrible. That's not an old vs. new issue, that's a good work vs. bad work issue. I'm sure there are dozens of well-qualified and underemployed carpenters in North Minneapolis that could install replacement windows that would look fantastic. It's true that many new windows are cheap and not built to last, but that also doesn't describe all new windows, just the cheap ones.

  3. Reuben, you make a good point. When it comes to replacement windows, there are certainly higher and lower qualities, as well as better and worse installation jobs.

    But again, all vinyl replacement windows are essentially irreparable once they break, unlike wood. This makes them inferior from an environmental standpoint. Also, the energy savings is only significant when you compare replacement windows to originals which are in ill repair. Turn of the century wood windows, when kept in good repair and used with proper storms, weatherstripping, caulk, etc, are just as efficient. (Particularly if you retro-fit them with tracks and insulate the counter-weight section.)

  4. I like to troll you revitalizers blogs because I see a lot of hypocrisy in the community. And I was gonna troll this, but when I look at all the evidence you've put together here, I have to agree with you. Plywood covered windows do look slummy.

  5. Many neighborhoods in the past have gone through cycles of neglect, but never with the wholesale rape of so much of the homes architectural integrity.

    By taking out much of the visually redeeming features of these homes they condemn the community as a future ghetto rather than enabling the homes to attract future owner occupants who will be proud of their homes and invest in the community.

    These guys are greedy pigs with no concept of style or character of these homes. They are only looking for the quickest and easiest way to pack as many government entitlement checks under one roof and these structural changes are being subsidized by our own government through energy efficiency programs that don't monitor the end results. We need more community oversight like other communities have.

  6. I agree with Reuben. I replaced my windows with double-paned wooden inserts, stained to match on the inside, and aluminum on the outside. I'm very happy with my windows and think they respect the house's character very well.

    At the end of the day you basically get what you pay for. If Captain Slumlord pays diddly squat for some scratch n' dent special on windows, they're going to look like crap. If you hire a professional outfit to do custom woodwork, you'll shell out the pig bucks, but it's gonna look great when it's done.

    Therefore, "NEW" doesn't instantly = "BAD"

  7. I wonder if permits were pulled and work approved on some of these jobs? No sure it permits are needed or not. Surely if required there is a basic "workmanlike"quality standard.


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