Q&A: Where have all the arched windows gone?

JenkinswindowQuestion: My husband and I were arguing about retrofitting windows the other day. We were out on a walk in a neighborhood with some beautiful little Spanish-style homes. One thing I love about them is their large, arched front windows. One thing I hate is when homeowners upgrade their windows and replace them with those ugly, double-paned things with white dividers, especially when they’ve got a large, beautiful arched window on the front side of their home. In my opinion, it completely ruins the look of the home. My husband says its illegal to sell a house with those large paned windows because of earthquakes. A recent earthquake prompted me to write and ask: What is the rule on retrofitting windows? — Anne

Answer: Anne, the thing that made most sense in your message was that you and your husband were arguing. That’s what people who love each other do, right?

Other than that, though, I think earthquake theory is faulty. Get it?

I wrote an article about just the kind of house you’re talking about, a 1927 Spanish bungalow in Del Rey (near Culver City) remodeled by Heide Jenkins and Luis Gonzalez. The original house had a gorgeous arched window, and the couple really wanted to replicate that when they set out to rehab this falling-down and neglected house. But they found the cost of an arched windows way too high for their budget, so they reluctantly settled for a rectangular window with divided panes.

I asked our resident construction expert, Alon Toker of Mega Builders in Chatsworth, and here’s what he had to say:

“I am unaware of any earthquake restrictions for arched, picture windows. However, windows do need to be in compliance with certain fenestration guidelines (such as Title 24 compliance for energy efficiency), opening sizes (for emergency egress out of bedrooms) and glazing options (for instance, tempered glass if 18 inches or less from the floor) and so on. “

Anyone have a different take on this?

3 Comments on Q&A: Where have all the arched windows gone?

  1. Justin Watts — Home Inspector

    As a home inspector in southern california, I see all ages of construction and thousands of windows. Dual pane are always recommended for energy savings reasons, and a large deduction in sound heard from outside. Although it can run in the thousands to replace single pane windows inside a home, it is well worth the cost, especially if you plan to reside in the home over several years.
    Just my thoughts,
    Justin Watts, Home Inspector
    American Dream Home Inspection

  2. Evil Landlord

    It all comes down to cost. The cost to redo all the falling apart, single pane, non functioning windows in a 1922 home in the required tempered glass, energy efficient vinyl sliders = $5800, in nicer divided glass vinyl $7,800, in custom replacement wood (also required energy efficient and tempered glass) approximately $1000 PER WINDOW more

  3. andrew Hurvitz

    Maybe arched windows have bad associations since they’ve been used by McMansions and built with vinyl dividers. Homeowners who live in 1920’s houses need to replace their windows with the type of colored glass that is custom made, and therefore more expensive. An “Anderson” style Palladian arched window will not work.