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Summer Home Projects

by Jon Nunan

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When the warm weather hits, outdoor remodeling is a great way to improve your home's appearance and raise your property value, as well. Whether you paint a new color or upgrade your landscape, outdoor remodeling projects are likely to have an even more dramatic effect on your home than an interior remodel. There are so many great outdoor remodels to choose from, however, that deciding which one will best suit your home can be difficult. Here are our picks for the 5 best exterior projects around, and a few tips to help you choose which ones will most benefit your property.

Outdoor Remodeling Project #1: Siding
Siding is responsible for protecting your home from the elements. It's a tough job to say the least, and the appearance of many homes can easily be improved by replacing existing siding that has begun to show its age. Some sidings offer not only better protection and improved looks, but increased property value, too.

When considering replacement sidings, look to your environment for clues as to which choice is right for you. In the southwest, stucco offers a regional look and provides extraordinary durability; in the northeast, wood (or vinyl that looks like wood but requires less maintenance!) will give your home a more classic look. Don't just consider your climate, but your neighborhood, too. If every house on the block is clad in vinyl siding, would stone or brick set your house apart or make it stick out?

Outdoor Remodeling Project #2: Roofing
When it comes to outdoor remodeling projects, putting on a new roof is probably the most daunting. As the most important part of your home's weatherproofing and insulation system, a good roof can save on heating and cooling bills; a bad roof installation, on the other hand, can lead to all kinds of headaches and repair bills down the road. Always check references when hiring a roofing company, and never pay the full cost of a roofing job up front.

Typically, your new roof's durability is directly related with its cost. Asphalt is the most affordable and the quickest to wear out; tile and slate are the most durable and by far the most expensive. Metal falls somewhere in the middle; its quick installation, moderate price, and 40+ year life expectancy are making it a popular choice among homeowners who want a good balance of value and durability.

Outdoor Remodeling Project #3: Windows
One of the more popular trends in home building and remodeling these days is adding more natural light with more—and larger—windows. Studies show that natural light has a positive effect on our well-being and adding more windows can open up a house, creating a more spacious-feeling room. They can provide a key design element in any home, but double or triple paned windows can also reduce your energy bills as they beautify.

If you are considering a window replacement, the location of your new windows can have an effect on your utility bills, too. In the northern hemisphere, large south-facing windows will bring in heat. This is a plus for those in cold climates, but might not be as appropriate for those where winter is no more than a 2 or 3 week bump in the road.

Outdoor Remodeling Project #4: Doors
One of the best and easiest outdoor remodels is to switch out your entry door. A custom door can add instant curb appeal to your home; they can be made of unique materials, clad in copper or aluminum, crafted from exotic woods or even by recycling an interesting wood once designed for another use (people have made doors from antique pickle barrels)!

While a brand new door is appropriate for just about any house, many homeowners are choosing to install salvaged entry doors. Environmentally sound and not hard on the eyes, classic doors carry a history with them that many find appealing. If you look in the right places and don't mind doing a little sanding and staining, installing a salvaged door can be an economical choice, too!

Outdoor Remodeling Project #5: Landscaping
No list of curb-appeal boosting outdoor remodeling projects is complete without mentioning landscaping! An overgrown landscape gives the impression of an unkempt home inside, as well. One of the most cost-effective ways to customize a home to meet your needs and tastes, good landscaping will add value to your home and enhance your lifestyle.

Enhancing your landscaping involves more than adding plants and cutting the grass. Landscape lighting plays a role in how your property looks at night. Many have installed subtle accents and spotlights that make their homes appear just as (or even more) stunning once the sun goes down. Low-voltage landscape lighting has become a new favorite of the do-it-yourselfer; easy to install and less expensive to operate, these systems are perfect for pathways, decks, and accents just about anywhere on your property!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.