Major Exterior Remodeling Upgrades for Fall, Plus Costs & ROI

Fall home exterior remodeling projects make sense for two reasons:

  • The weather is ideal for several outdoor home renovations
  • Getting your home’s exterior ready for winter is a mark of wise home-ownership

Here are the top autumn remodeling upgrades for the outside of your home, their cost range and the potential return on investment they bring:

  1. Replace the Entry Doors and Garage Door

via Eco View

Replacing any door, whether garage or entry, that faces the street, will boost your home’s curb appeal while also increasing the value and salability of your property. Even if you’re not planning on selling your house any time soon, giving your home’s exterior a practical face lift will help increase the enjoyment of your home for the whole family. The benefits of new exterior doors include:

  • Better aesthetics: New, good-looking doors make a great impression on guests, neighbors and potential buyers, if you list your home.
  • Improved energy efficiency: Replacing old doors that have settled and no longer fit well with new, insulated doors lowers heat transfer out of the house in winter and into the house in summer. When the doors are being replaced, the installer should also check for and replace any loose caulk around window and door frames.
  • A safer home and family: Home security relies on strong, secure doors as a first defense. A reliable garage door keeps potential thieves out. It can also prevent one of the thousands of injuries to children, adults and pets caused every year by old, faulty garage doors falling unexpectedly or failing to reverse motion if an object is in the way.

The following exterior home upgrades have some of the highest cost-to-value returns of any remodeling project:

  • Standard steel replacement entry door cost: $1,400 – $2,000
    Cost-to-value return: 69%
  • Fiberglass exterior entry door (upscale) cost: $3,000 – $3,500
    Cost-to-value return: 78%
  • Standard Garage door replacement cost: $1,500 – $2,000
    Cost-to-value return: 77%
  • Upscale Garage door replacement cost: $3,500 – $4,000
    Cost-to-value return: 95.0%
  1. Replacing Siding on your Home

Siding is the defining component of a home’s exterior because it covers more vertical surface than any other material. Replacing siding that is in poor condition not only improves the appearance of your home, but it also offers the following benefits:

  • Keeps out moisture that makes insulation ineffective while causing mold and rot, and prevents the attraction of insects that feed on damp wood
  • Usually includes updating the home’s house wrap and replacing caulk around windows and doors, with the result of reducing energy use and cost

Here’s an overview of siding prices for the most common materials and then general information on home siding return on investment:

  1. Install Stylish, Energy-efficient Windows

This is an upgrade that does just as much for the interior of your home as the exterior. Old windows suffer from a range of problems including broken mechanisms, poor fit that makes them difficult to open and broken seals that cloud the glass and allow heat transfer that raises energy bills.

Here are top reasons to replace your windows before winter:

  1. New windows fit tighter and reduce energy loss.
  2. Energy-efficient windows with Energy Star glass packages are made by most top window manufacturers. For example, Pella makes two InsulShield packages for hot, very sunny climates and another for cold climates.
  3. Pella window InsulShield glass insulation
  4. Beautiful options are available for your budget including vinyl ($-$$$), wood composite ($$-$$$$), fiberglass ($$-$$$$), wood ($$$-$$$$$) and wood with exterior cladding ($$$$-$$$$$).
  5. Window styles are made for your design and functionality requirements including single and double-hung, casement, sliding, awning and many fixed varieties.

Expect to pay between $7,500 and $15,000 to install 10 new replacement windows, depending on the window material and type, and your home’s location. Large custom aluminum clad wood windows for very large homes will cost more. The cost-to-value return for most window replacement projects ranges between 65% and 75%, depending on the upgrade.

Note: While this guide focuses on the exterior home updates, we would be remiss if we did not mention the following interior home energy efficiency upgrade:

  1. Install a Heated Driveway with Hydronic Heat

via Concrete Decor

OK, this one is a luxury item for icy-cold winter climates. But who wouldn’t love one? No more shoveling the driveway or slipping, sliding out of it on your way to work. Here’s how a gas-fired system works:

  • A gas boiler is installed for just the driveway, or it can be large enough for your home, if your heating system needs an upgrade. In fact, hot water from a boiler can be used to melt ice on the roof in winter too, and it can keep the pool and hot tub usable all year.
  • Your old driveway is torn out.
  • Hydronic tubing is laid in the driveway bed with both ends connected to the boiler for circulating the hot water.
  • The concrete, asphalt or paver stones are installed over the tubing.
  • You turn on the heating system when snow or ice is expected, or wait for it, and fire up the boiler to watch the melt begin!

Is a heated driveway worth the cost? Probably not, with prices starting at about $15,000 and rising to more than $100k pretty easily for a large driveway or when water is heated for additional reasons. However, many installers argue, with some merit, that a heated driveway isn’t subject to freeze/thaw cycles. Moisture gets into tiny, superficial cracks in the concrete or asphalt. When it freezes, it expands and makes the crack slightly worse. When it melts, the moisture goes deeper. Next time it freezes, it expands, and so does the crack.

A driveway going through multiple freeze/thaw cycles in a typical winter literally starts reducing it to rubble. A heated driveway evaporates away the moisture, and it can be turned off. The drive only needs to be heated when there’s moisture and the right temperatures to create freeze and thaw.

Electric wiring systems for the driveway cost less initially, but electric heat is very expensive and there’s no hot water produced for other uses. The best guess on the ROI of a heated driveway is in the range of 55% to about 60%. All the top boiler brands including Laars, Weil-McLain, Peerless and Utica make boilers with the capacity for heating your home, providing domestic hot water and keeping driveway and roof clear. Awesome.

  1. Re-roofing your Home

Winters are hard on roofs, so replacing your shingles, shakes or membrane roofing material before it hits can prevent major, costly home repair issues down the road.

Reasons to replace the roof before winter include:

  • Winter is the rainy season in some regions, and when the precipitation is driven by wind, it can easily get beneath old roofing and into the roof deck where it will rot the house framing, cause mold, leak into your home and damage everything it touches. The roof is your home’s most essential exterior component for protection.
  • In colder climates, heavy snowfall weighs on roofs and produce a large amount of water when melting. Ice dams that have formed at the roof’s edges, will force the melted snow (water) to back up underneath the roofing material, thereby damaging shingles, and causing damage inside the house.
  • Freeze and thaw cycles throughout the winter slowly but surely destroy aged roofing, especially old shingles that have already developed minor cracks and splits, and/or loss of granules.
  • Fall installation costs are lower in many parts of the country, thanks to a somewhat reduced demand, following the busier spring and summer home remodeling season.

Note: While metal roofing can be installed year-round, roofing shingles should only be installed when outside temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, with sunny skies.

Depending on the size of the roof, roof’s pitch and type, accessibility and complexity, and your home’s location, a new replacement roof will cost anywhere from $7,500 to $35,000, with a typical cost of replacement ranging from $12,500 to $25,000 for an asphalt shingle roof, fully installed. The cost-to-value return for a new roof is about 66%. Of course, the cost-to-value return is irrelevant if your home’s roof is in poor condition, and the alternative is a severely damaged house.

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New Metal Roof

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What Exterior Home Upgrade is Right for You?

If you’re only going to do one, then take time to evaluate the condition of your home. Having a professional home inspection done on the outside of most homes costs $150 – $300, and it will give you a clearer picture of the exterior’s condition and what repair to make the top priority.

For homeowners with houses that are in good condition, which aesthetic upgrade would bring the most enjoyment – or maybe it would be a heated driveway? When choosing an autumn exterior home upgrade, doing what you want to do when there isn’t anything that must be done is a beautiful thing.

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