Exterior remodeling projects make sense for two reasons:
- The weather is ideal for outdoor home renovation
- Getting your home’s exterior ready for winter is a mark of wise homeownership
Here are the top autumn remodeling upgrades for the outside of your home, their cost range and the potential return on investment they bring:
- Replace the Entry Doors and Garage Door
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Replacing any door, garage or entry, that faces the street boosts your home’s curb appeal. Even if you’re not going to sell it, you’ll enjoy arriving home to an exterior that looks fantastic. 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 ROIs of any remodeling project:
- Standard steel replacement door cost: $1,400-$2,000
- ROI: 80%
- Fiberglass exterior door cost: $2,500-$4,000
- ROI: 78%
- Garage door cost: $1,500-$2,000
- ROI: 75.9%
- Upscale garage door cost: $2,800-$4,000
- ROI: 95.0%
- 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 and causes 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:
- Vinyl siding: $5.50-10.50 per square foot
- Aluminum & Steel siding: $6.50-$11.50 per square foot
- Fiber cement siding: $7.50-$12.50 per square foot
- Wood siding: $7.50-$14.50 per square foot
- ROI for vinyl, aluminum, wood, and fiber cement siding: 76.4%
- Faux brick & stone veneer siding: $9.50-$15.50 per square foot
- ROI for faux stone/brick veneer siding: 89.4%
- Brick and stone veneer siding: $17.00-$25.50 per square foot
- ROI for genuine brick and veneer siding: 71.5%
- Install Stylish, Energy-efficient Windows
This is an upgrade that does just as much for the interior of your home as the exterior. Old windows suffer from a range of problems including broken mechanisms, poor fit that makes them difficult to open and broken seals that cloud the glass and allow heat transfer that raises energy bills.
Here are reasons to replace your windows before winter:
- New windows fit tighter and reduce energy loss.
- Energy-efficient windows with Energy Star glass packages are made by most top window manufacturers. For example, Pella makes two InsulShield packages for hot, very sunny climates and another for cold climates.
- Beautiful options are available for your budget including vinyl ($-$$$), wood composite ($$-$$$), fiberglass ($$-$$$), wood ($$-$$$$) and wood with exterior cladding ($$$-$$$$$).
- 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 $5,000 to $20,000 for new windows, more for very large homes. Their cost to value is about 74% for most materials including vinyl and wood.
- Install a Heated Driveway with Hydronic Heat
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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.
- 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 formed at roof’s edge forces melted snow back up under the material where it causes tremendous damage.
- Freeze and thaw cycles throughout the winter slowly but surely destroy aged roofing that already has minor cracks and splits.
- Fall installation costs are lower in many parts of the country following the busier spring and summer home remodeling season.
Depending on the size of your home and the roof’s pitch and type, your new roof will cost anywhere from $7,000 to $35,000 with an average cost of about $12,000 to $20,000. The cost/value ROI for a new roof is about 69%. Of course, roof replacement return on investment is irrelevant if your home’s roof is in poor condition, and the alternative is a severely damaged home.
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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 $100-$225, and it will give you a clear 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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