10 Smart Exterior Home Improvements
If you’ve watched any HGTV show on home renovations, buying and selling homes or the many, many others you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “curb appeal” tossed around like candy. Curb appeal is one of the most important things that you can work on if you are planning on selling your home anytime in the foreseeable future.
No matter how stunning the inside of your home looks during the selling process, pulling up to a home that appears outdated or dare we say a hot mess from the curb, will deter any potential buyer. Many buyers will simply keep driving by and may never even stop at all. You know the famous saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Let’s be honest though. It happens. People judge without even realizing it. A home that does not portray a “well kept” look on the outside could give off the wrong vibe and may leave someone feeling like the inside of the home could be the same way. This type of rationalization tells a buyer to beware of additional costs they could have to incur to do the upkeep and/or improvements themselves. For this reason, many of the best return on investment projects that you can do on your home are focused on the exterior.
Have no intentions of moving? Improving upon the curb appeal of your home is still vital to continually be working on. Most homeowners have one (ok, many!) projects on their task list for the year that play into creating a better, safer and more enjoyable look for the exterior of their home.
Wondering where to start? We’ve complied the top smart improvement projects for you that are designed to give you the best bang for your buck and boost to your homes’ curb appeal.
When was the last time that you walked the outside of your home to inspect for damage or any areas that need attention? If your roof was leaking or there was a plumbing issue you’d realize it immediately and take action. Stucco on the other hand is one of the most neglected aspects of the home typically. Cracks, flaking and other damage to stucco, may not be as noticeable without a careful assessment.
Despite its durability, stucco is not indestructible. Age, maintenance, and weathering can all contribute to stucco corrosion over time. For that reason, it is recommended that you perform regular assessments. When damage occurs, your home is then susceptible to water intrusion. Any type of minor repairs should be done regularly to avoid the high costs of removal and replacement should moisture damage occur. Having stucco cracks filled is far more cost effective than repairing additional damage in the future.
TIP: There are a variety of textured finishes to choose from for your home, with the most common being Lace, Monterey/Santa Fe, Flat or Sand finish. When hiring a contractor to perform repairs on your home, it is important to use a company that is skilled at matching various finishes, to ensure your repair is not visible. Todd Whittaker Drywall, Inc. (TWD) employs tradesmen that are experts in stucco application, repairs and textured finishes. It’s no surprise why TWD is known as one of the leading stucco repair companies in Arizona, and is used by many local and national homebuilders for their quality stucco work. When your home needs repair, don’t wait for the damage to escalade.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
Did you know that on average you should repaint your home every 7 years? Paint is one of the most cost-effective projects that you can do and one that makes a substantial difference in the appearance. Subliminally it tells any potential buyer that your home is fresh and well maintained.
If you are considering selling your home, keep in mind that not every homeowner has the same taste in color schemes. Although you may love a bright blue or sunshine yellow entrance to your home, the next person may not. In this instance, we recommend choosing a neutral color palette that will appeal to the masses. It’s easy to repaint a bold colored accent wall inside the home, but repainting the exterior requires a little more time and money to change.
New Entry Door
Sounds simple, right? By updating your front door, you’ll make an immediate impact on the look of your home and how inviting it is. Whether to friends and family, or to a potential buyer. Replacing an older, worn, or low-quality door with a new steel door can actually increase the value of your home. Your new door will provide a fresh clean entrance into your home, while also improving upon the safety and security.
Talk to your general contractor about details that you can add to your door to get the most out your investment. This could include adding decorative molding, glass inserts, new hardware or something as simple as a pop of color to create your grand entrance.
Good lighting is an important part of every home’s exterior. You probably have houses on your block that you drive by at night and completely pass over without ever noticing because they do not have any lighting or the lights they do have operate poorly. Having a well-lit entrance is ideal for many reasons. Proper lighting will help minimize trip hazards when entering your home and allow authorities to find your home in case of emergency.
Is your home a prime target for a burglar? Dimly lit or dark homes are prime targets for those that don’t want to be seen for whatever reason. We all would like to think it would never happen to us, but taking the extra steps to steer someone like this away from your home, such as adding good lighting makes this one of the top smart improvements you can do.
A few areas to consider lighting are beside the front door, lighting alongside the garage door, accent lighting that showcases the architectural features of your home, and lighting within the landscaping or any usable outdoor areas.
Don’t overlook the landscaping. Landscape that compliments the look of your home and that appears to be maintained can increase the value of your home up to 20% in some markets. Dead landscaping can ruin the curb appeal that you’re desperately trying to improve. Take the time to trim any overgrown trees and bushes that may be obscuring your home to ensure that your home makes a great first impression. You’ll want potential buyers able to envision themselves walking up to their future home.
Creating your own landscaped oasis that is efficient and easy to maintain is ideal. Think about incorporating plants that do not require large amounts of water consumption for money saving benefits.
TIP: Within the landscaping is a great way to introduce a pop of color to your home. A new flower pot, flower bush or bouquet adds a welcoming feel.
Drywall improvements to your home in general can add style and dimension. In regards to the exterior, drywall is typically found at the lids of your covered porch and patio. With the Arizona weather, it is not uncommon for repairs to be needed at one time or another to these areas in order to address nail pops, drywall cracking, peeling of the tape joints, or water damage.
Similar to stucco, drywall also has various textured finishes. The application method and amount of material used creates these common finish styles and like stucco, require an experienced tradesman to precisely match. The last thing that you want is to hire someone to do a repair and their inexperience leaves you with a very noticeable patch.
The most common finishes: Skip Trowel, Knockdown, Orange Peel, Splatter, and what is referred to as a Level 5 smooth finish. While many homeowners think highly of a smooth finish, keep in mind that this texture (or lack thereof) allows for no mistakes to be made, as any small imperfection will be quite obvious.
TIP: If your patio lid has reoccurring damage, ask your contractor about the benefits of installing a vent strip for added air flow.
Check to make sure your exterior plumbing is working properly and make any necessary repairs. Water leaks can cause rot and corrosion to your home, which can lead to structural damage if not taken care of. A leaky hose bib for example can lead to moisture intrusion through open stucco cracks or stucco damage. The cost of unnecessary water damage repair far outweighs the cost of repairing that hose bib. Not to mention the extra water consumption cost that you’ll be paying for each month on your water bill.
TIP: Make sure that your landscape sprinklers are pointed away from your house and windows to avoid any preventable water damage from occurring.
If you’re looking for an affordable and effective DIY project this weekend, this one is an easy project to tackle that can make a big impact. Pressure washing your home helps rid all the dirt and grime that has built up over the year(s), leaving your homes exterior appear cleaner. Following up with washing the porch, walkway and driveway is another way to focus on cleanliness of your home. Between weather elements, foot traffic and tire or even grease marks on your concrete, a good cleaning goes a long way.
Don’t own a power washer, not to worry. Check with your local hardware or big box store for ones you can rent for the day.
Replace Your Garage Door
Have an old, dated, stained or dented garage door? It’s time to replace it. Your garage door actually occupies a big part of the front of your home. In many homes, as much as a third of the front exterior. By replacing your door with a new one, it ultimately gives you the opportunity to choose one with better security, a fresh modernized look, and insulation for better temperature management in your garage.
While this is probably not on your do-it-yourself list of smart improvements simply due to the size, talk to your general contractor or garage door specialist about choosing the right door for you and providing you with an installed price.
TIP: If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association (HOA) governing board, you’ll want to get in contact with them to ask about any design parameters you’ll need to follow or approvals needed before making any major changes.
Depending on the age of your home, your current windows could be costing you money every month. Up to one third of the total heat loss during the winter months can be from faulty windows in older homes. Worse yet, your windows can account for as much as 75% of the interior heat gain during the hot summer months. For Arizona homeowners, this can be astounding to think about during the peak temperature months when it is consistently over 100 degrees. If you sit near your window and can feel warm air coming in from outside, you’re actually paying more to cool your home to compensate for this air exchange entering your home.
There are a few common reasons for your windows losing their effectiveness:
- Your windows may not be providing sufficient insulation value.
- Seal failure. A telltale sign of this is if your windows get fogged with condensation.
- Loss of functionality. An example of this is if your window needs to be propped open with something instead of staying open on its own.
- Damaged weather stripping. An easy way to tell if your weather stripping is the culprit is to stand inside on a windy day and put a lit candle near the windows edge. If the candle flame gets blown out, you can be sure that your weather stripping is damaged and is allowing outside air to freely blow in.
If you are shopping for new windows, be sure to ask your general contractor about dual pane or even triple-paned windows with increased insulating capabilities. Many manufacturers now offer options like low-E glass that reflects heat.
Whether you determine that tending to loose or damaged weather stripping will fix the issue, or if replacing windows is needed to provide a better fit with energy efficient properties you are sure to make a noticeable difference in your energy bill. That is something that we can all appreciate.
Hopefully these smart improvements have given you inspiration to start your next home project. Nine out of ten homebuyers will turn to the internet first when looking for a home. If your homes curb appeal is not appealing you may be losing out. Studies show that not only does your home sell faster, but you’re more likely to get your asking price when your home makes a great first impression.
Not sure where to start? Consulting with an experienced local general contractor like TWD can get your home back in tip top shape in no time. TWD’s friendly staff and experienced tradesmen have been serving the Phoenix housing market since 1996. Performing tens of thousands of home improvement projects like these, in addition to luxury kitchen and bathroom remodeling, they have built an extensive portfolio. Visit the Gallery page of their website at https://www.twdaz.com to see their recent projects first hand. While you are there, request your free in-home consultation to begin discussing repair options and enhancements for your home.