Milwaukee/NARI Experts Identify Exterior Home Renovations with Best Return on Investment

July 20, 2012

In local exterior remodels, homeowners focus on seeing the greatest return on investment, according to members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling resource for 51 years. Though the trend is evident in all aspects of remodeling, outdoor projects especially are viewed in terms of getting back what’s put in – and with good reason.

With a return of 73%, replacing steel entry doors has the highest ROI of any remodel according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2012 Cost vs. Value Report. In fact, seven of the top ten are exterior remodels, including garage doors, vinyl siding, wood and vinyl window replacement, and wood and composite deck additions.

Because each home and situation is different, the type of project with the best return “depends on what the homeowner is trying to achieve,” said Josh Meldman of JM Remodeling and Construction of Brown Deer.

To Lower Energy Costs
One way to get back remodeling dollars is by lowering energy costs. This is most effective if the homeowners plan to stay in their home for the long term. If this is the case, Meldman felt that new energy efficient windows and doors are the best bet.

Patrick Rogo of BCI Exteriors in Menomonee Falls agreed, adding, “Windows, doors, and attic insulation will give homeowners the fastest way to recoup their initial investment, and over time those projects will pay for themselves.”

How much will homeowners save? In the case of windows, replacing single pane windows with energy efficient double- or triple-paned windows can drop heating and cooling bills an average of 20 to 30 percent. It will vary based on the quality of the old windows, members said.

Insulated siding also will pay for itself according to Rogo, but it will take more time to do so.

To Be Maintenance Free
“A good exterior investment for homeowners is anything that makes the exterior of the house low maintenance or maintenance free,” Meldman said. “This can be any composite material such as fibercement and engineered wood, or fully synthetic materials such as vinyl siding and windows. Also aluminum trim installed over the existing wood trim on the house is a very popular option for many homeowners.”

“Siding, soffit, and fascia allow you to appreciate the beauty of your home and require little to no maintenance,” Rogo said. “Also roofing is a project many homeowners don’t appreciate fully until after it’s done.” He has found that replacing the roof provides peace of mind that a homeowner’s largest investment is protected.

Having low maintenance was an important factor in a recent remodel by Chamberlin Co. in Wauwatosa. Company owner Tim Nolan explained, “We did an asbestos slate roofing and siding tear off. The reason the customer did the work was for low maintenance, to get rid of the asbestos, and to have an updated look for the house.” They accomplished this with new roofing, vinyl siding, aluminum trim work around the windows and overhangs, gutters, and aluminum storm windows.

To Sell The Home
Decks are another area of the home that can produce a high return on investment. The cost of replacing or adding a deck to a home depends a lot on building materials. Milwaukee/NARI members suggest building a deck that matches seamlessly with the house, while choosing materials and sealants that will help your outdoor living area stand out to prospective buyers.

Windows that save energy are always a selling point. As Nolan pointed out, the look of the windows matters too. “You can enjoy the looks and comfort of new maintenance free vinyl windows. They come in a variety of exterior colors and interior wood grains,” he said.

Curb appeal isn’t all about looks, members warn. Buyers want a home that’s trouble-free, especially with regard to the roof. “When homeowners are in transition and looking to sell within the next couple of years, having a new roof installed is best for resale purposes,” Meldman said. “Nowadays buyers always want to know the condition of the roof, and if there’s any question about the integrity of the roof, it ends up either being a deal breaker or the sale goes under negotiations, which can be a long drawn out and stressful process for both parties.”

At BCI Exteriors, the projects done for resale aren’t always roofs. Rogo said, “Siding, soffit, and fascia are the most common projects we’ve done to help homeowners sell their home. We’re often told after the project that the homeowners wish they had done it earlier so they could enjoy the ‘like new’ home before they sell it. Roofing would be a close second.”

Nolan agreed that it’s essential to fix a roof in need of repair, but what if homeowners just want something fast and easy for their exterior? Consider improving the front entry of the home with a little color, he said. “The easiest project would be a new aluminum storm door for the front of the house,” Nolan said.

To Save On The Remodel
For homeowners looking to save money on a costly remodel, Meldman said, “The most inexpensive product in the low maintenance market is vinyl. If budgeting is the homeowners’ biggest concern, this is the product for them.”

For homeowners looking for inexpensive exterior remodels, Rogo said, “Our least expensive projects are general repairs, gutters, leaf protection, and attic insulation. Gutters and leaf protection allow our homeowners to stay safer at home by staying off their ladders and saving them time.”
Homeowners have seen a return from state and federal energy saving incentive programs, specifically with regard to windows and attic insulation, Rogo said. “These programs come and go, and most of the time homeowners don’t know about them until it’s too late. It’s important to speak to a knowledgeable contractor who will help you get the best return on your investment.”

Meldman added, “It’s always good to do your research and choose a professional contractor that is sensitive to your needs and plans. A good contractor will help you choose the products best suited for you.”

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