If you live in an older house, chances are you will want to update or replace cladding, doors and windows at some point. Exterior renovations can give new life to a tired home and reduce maintenance significantly. At the same time, you can improve the energy efficiency, security and general comfort of your home.
When you are ready to begin planning, talk with a professional renovator to get ideas and a sense of cost. Make sure it’s someone who is experienced in exterior renovations and can offer you both sound technical advice and design assistance.
A New Look
Maybe you simply want to update the appearance of your home, or perhaps you want to try for a different look. Now is the time to explore the possibilities. To begin with there is a vast selection of quality exterior cladding products — bricks, wood, stucco, vinyl or composition siding in many colors, sizes and styles. Renovators sometimes “mix and match” materials to create attractive, custom-tailored exteriors.
Replacing your doors and windows can make a big difference to the overall appearance and brightness of your home. With the huge selection of windows and doors on the market, your best bet is to consult with your renovator: Which styles, materials, sizes and types would work best? Can you add more windows? Should you increase the number of windows that open and close for a better air flow? Can you add a sidelight to your main doorway for a more welcoming entrance to your home?
The possibilities for upgrading or adding a porch, a deck, overhangs and decorative finishing touches are almost endless. Looking at other people’s homes and browsing through magazines is a good first step. Also, ask your renovator for suggestions. Experienced renovators can often see possibilities that you might overlook.
Replacing your siding presents the perfect opportunity to upgrade the insulation from the outside. Based on the existing structure, your renovator can suggest a number of different approaches, such as adding a layer of rigid or semi-rigid insulation. An experienced renovator will also know what pitfalls to avoid. He understands the science of a “building as a system” and will ensure that your house is done correctly.
Your renovator can also advise you on the right glazing for your new energy-efficient windows to capture the sun’s heat on the north side, to block out sunlight and excess heat gain on the south side and to cut glare.
With today’s new products, it’s easier to secure your home. Exterior doors can be fitted with dead bolts and strong locks, and windows can be installed with solid locking mechanisms. Consult with your renovator about other measures you can take, such as security grilles on basement windows. If you have been thinking about a security system, this may be the most cost-effective time to install one.
Good lighting is also important for safety. Install lights wherever visibility is an issue — over entrances, along walkways and next to sheds or garages. A programmable timer or lights that are photo- or motion-sensitive offer additional security when you are away from home.
One of the benefits of today’s exterior building products and materials is low maintenance — no more summers spent scraping, sanding and painting siding, trim and windows. As you select the products and materials for your renovation, consult with your renovator to make sure you know exactly what you are getting.
Plan for the little details
An exterior renovation is also your chance to add the touches that make life just a little easier. Replacing taps with frost-free hose-bibs, installing or relocating outside plugs or motion detector controlled light fixtures. Take advantage of your renovator’s experience by asking for more suggestions.