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They look awful and ruin the appearance of a building and unfortunately they are beginning to proliferate all over Crouch End. I understand that double-glased PVC windows are a home insulation measure, but there are alternatives which are just as effective. Wooden sash windows can be double-glased and have far better visual aesthetics.
PVC is manufactured from a diminishing resource whilst wood grows on trees. Wood can be painted to in many attractive colours. The paint serves to maintain the material - PVC is all but impossible to paint, and inevitably fails after a limited amount of time. Most of Crouch End is a conservation area, and while there are no hard and fast rules on which material must be used for window frames, wood is preferred.
My experience is that the worst offenders in changing to PVC are landlords, especially housing associations, who blight large blocks at one foul swipe.
Anyone able to recommend a good and reasonably priced, sash window company .. I need new wood sashes!