When you decide to buy an older house and convert it to rental office space, you face exhilarating challenges. As a newcomer to the commercial real estate business, even the smallest decisions you make will have an impact on your bottom line. One important choice is to make the building energy efficient for long-term operational cost savings. A key component of your energy efficiency plan is the selection of windows to replace the old, drafty ones in the building. Smart money is on Energy Star certified windows which, along with certified doors and skylights, can save an average of 12% on energy bills. The other important choice about windows is selecting ones that are handsome and compatible with the structure's architectural features. Your designer and your window installation contractor will be invaluable guides in matching building and window styles. Some of the most popular pairings for conversions include:
Single-Pane, Double-Hung for a Queen Anne Conversion
Although Queen Anne is the official architectural nomenclature for the large, highly decorated houses of late 19th century, well-to-do neighborhoods, they're often referred to as Victorian houses. Numerous rooms, some with interconnecting doors, on multiple floors make a Queen Anne ideal for tenants who only need smaller office spaces to conduct their business. In many areas, occupants tend to be counselors, consultants and professionals in the mental health field who find the cozy room layouts attractive for their practices.
While the exterior of a Queen Anne dazzles with gingerbread woodwork and fancy embellishments, the windows are notably plain. Replace the old windows with modern, but similarly simple, double-hung single-pane windows that
- can be raised and lowered from both the bottom and top for fresh air flow,
- may have either low-maintenance vinyl frames or wood that can be stained or painted to match the interior and exterior color schemes,
- and are available in a wide range of standard sizes or can be custom fabricated to fit any unusual sizes in the house you are converting.
Sliding Glass and Plate Glass Windows for a Ranch Style Conversion
Widely popular for suburban neighborhoods from the 1930s through 1980s, the layout of a ranch style house makes it a good match for tenants such as independent insurance agencies and accounting firms. What was once the master bedroom becomes the owner's big office. Other bedrooms become private offices for associates, and the living room with its big, plate glass picture window houses support staff in an open office configuration.
The original picture window was likely mounted in an aluminum frame that developed mold and condensation problems. Replace it with a fresh, new window in a tight-fitting frame that is tinted or treated with a reflective coating for privacy and increased energy efficiency.
Throughout the rest of the house, keep the new windows true to the original plans by installing vinyl sliding glass windows that the occupants can easily open for fresh air and lock tightly when they leave.
Multi-Pane, Double-Hung Windows for a Cape Cod Conversion
Standing in symmetrical dignity with a prominent front entrance and gabled roof, Cape Cod house-to-office conversions are particularly attractive to lawyers and professional practices with an upscale clientele. The windows are a distinctive feature of Cape Cod architectural style and are typically framed by shutters. In keeping with the classic style, choose multi-pane windows that are double-hung for opening at the top, bottom or both.
TIP: As an additional convenience for your tenants, the windows should have a tilt-out feature so the janitorial service has easy access for routine cleaning.
The newly installed windows will help make your converted property look great for the type of quality tenants you want to attract. Additionally, the energy efficiency is a strong selling point on the way to signing a lease agreement that's beneficial for their future business and your investment returns. For more advice, contact a company like Fischer Window and Door Store.