Spring means lots of open houses, for prospective buyers and neighbors too, and great curb appeal is important to invite people into your home. Everyone likes getting ideas for updating their homes and open houses are a great way to learn what your home is worth, based on similar houses in your neighborhood.
Most prospective buyers start their home search online, so curb appeal is the first impression when they drive up to your home. What they see first – the mailbox at the curb, the front door or even the garage door varies so it's hard to decide which home improvements are more important?
After reviewing the latest Remodeling.com Cost vs Value 2013 report (www.costvsvalue.com), my question was why 7 of the top 11 projects focused on improving a home's exterior appearance. The most common reason given is they improve the curb appeal of a house, so I decided to explore the advice of other respected websites, for their tips on improving curbside appeal.
Curb Appeal Starts at the Street
The Remodeling.com survey focused on larger projects like replacing doors, windows and siding, all part of a home's exterior. Other websites included landscaping and it could be improved to enhance curb appeal.
- Dress up your mailbox with plantings and even built-in flower boxes.
- Add interesting house numbers that are decorative and helpful to guests.
- Repair driveways and walkways, adding landscape features to dress them up.
- Low voltage or solar lighting for the driveway, walkways and to highlight special landscape features.
- Add flower boxes and container gardens to add color, depth and texture to a home's exterior.
- Trim shrubs and trees around the house, renew flower beds and mulch shaded areas where nothing can grow.
- Upgrade porch railings to create visual interest.
- Add special features to the landscaping – an arbor, fence panels or outdoor art.
Doors and Curb Appeal
Front doors were more important when there were sidewalks, front porches and we walked to catch the bus to work. Front doors today are more decorative, with side doors more frequently used to enter our homes from the driveway. Why the front door remains so important is a mystery to me, so you'll have to decide for yourself. If you're happy with your front door and surrounding entryway, the garage door when facing the street, also affects curb appeal.
The Remodeling Cost vs Value report rated replacing a front entry door with a steel door at the top of the list, with a fiberglass replacement door providing a lower return on investment. This recommendation has never made sense to me as steel doors only have a 10 year warranty versus 20 years for fiberglass doors. The most common reason for getting a steel door is fire protection between the garage and house, and this requires a door with steel frame (for more information, read my earlier article on Exterior Doors: Fact, Fiction or …).
The other websites I looked at (Better Home and Gardens, HGTV, Popular Mechanics and House Logic) all included freshening up the front door. Their recommendations for updating a front door to enhance curb appeal included a fresh coat of paint, polishing hardware or replacing it with new fixtures, updating light fixtures, container plantings, a wreath and even a nice door mat.
Curb Appeal with Siding, Windows and More
The house exterior may be one solid wall, or have several Every house has some type of siding and lots of windows. The contour of the house exterior is defined when the house is built, and while almost anything can be changed, it's more cost effective to add features to the siding to create more visual interest. Here are recommendations for improving curb appeal without replacing your siding or windows.
- Add shutters to windows to give depth and personality.
- Replace moldings around doors and windows to make your home exterior more visually interesting.
- Painting typically done to protect the wood, can add visual interest when you use accent colors on trim.
- One website, Better Homes and Garden, suggested applying stone veneer to your home's exterior. This should be done with great care as foundations must be able to support the added weight, and if the installation isn't done properly, you could end up with water damage behind the stone.
All of these ideas, with the possible exception of the stone veneer, are less expensive than the renovations included in the Remodeling.com 2013 report. It's not that you don't want to replace your siding – you want to do it when your existing siding has reached the end of it's lifetime or These were:
- Siding projects included vinyl, foam backed vinyl and fiber-cement siding.
- Replacement windows included vinyl windows and wood (mid-range and upscale) windows.
Remember Your Roof Can Influence Curb Appeal
When is the last time you looked at your roof? You probably can't remember so a good habit is to take 10 seconds when you enter your driveway, to visually check your roof for missing shingles or anything else that doesn't look quite right. Roofing and gutters affect curb appeal in addition to keeping your home dry.
New trends not specifically covered in the remodeling survey are metal roofs and copper gutters as shown in this photo from I Love Metal Roofs.
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