People come at rehabs from different perspectives. Some are just happy that a house or building is saved and reused. Others want the period details maintained or restored and the proper materials used. A number of rehabs done by government agencies like the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency or by Do-It-Yourself (DIY) rehabbers utilize cost-effective materials like vinyl siding, vinyl windows and oval glass front doors. Other rehabs that focus on restoration have wooden windows that come with the house or building that are repaired for functionality or have new wooden windows installed. There are several craftsmen in Buffalo who can restore wooden doors. Some advocate for the use of period colors during restoration. Of course, installing new or repaired wooden windows and using period colors on new or repaired clapboard or hardwood are expensive processes compared to the installation of vinyl windows and siding. Advocates of wooden windows point out that wooden windows last much longer than vinyl windows. Vinyl siding also has a short life span and is hazardous to the environment – it’s not biodegradable when it ends up in a landfill.
If a project utilizes Federal and State Historic Preservation Tax Credits, the use of vinyl windows and vinyl siding is not allowed. However, the next inexpensive material on the replacement scale for windows are aluminum windows which are allowed for tax credit purposes. White aluminum windows are often mistaken as being white vinyl windows. That was the initial reaction that many had when they viewed pictures of the St. Clare’s Grammar School Mixed-use rehab in the city’s Valley neighborhood or the School 56 mixed-use rehab on West Delavan in the Elmwood Village neighborhood on the Facebook page Buffalo Rehab and Reuse. Aluminum windows come in many colors and should be utilized in the renovation process if that is the developer or rehabber’s choice rather than white. Nothing screams vinyl windows like white windows. Fiberglass windows have also come into popularity recently.
I think back to the Buffalo of the 1990’s when nothing was happening in Buffalo on the rehab scene, and then I think of the rehab scene now with all the rehabs that have taken place in just this past year, and are going on right now. Our city’s rebirth continues to come into focus.
Photos in this segment were contributed by Chrissy Lincoln, Keith Sczcygiel, Katy Stuck, Frits Abell and myself. If you are interested in the Buffalo Rehab Scene, please join the Facebook Page Buffalo Rehab and Reuse