Give Your Home a Face Transplant

by Marcus Pickett

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People with severe facial trauma have new hope, as this year saw the first U.S. face transplant—and most extensive ever—occur at the Cleveland Clinic, where a woman had 80 percent of her face replaced with a cadaver. For your home, exterior trauma related to natural disasters or just time can be more extensive than most people would imagine. While most homes need nothing more than a facelift associated with a single project, some need an upgrade with 80 percent or more of its exterior features.

Anatomy of a Face Transplant

Roofing: By far, the most common installation for a home's face transplant, solid, energy-efficient roofing is a great place to start the process. Asphalt may give you a structurally sound scalp, but metal, composite, or traditional tile will add a beautiful head of hair.

Siding: It doesn't take much imagination to see how siding is the skin of your home's face. Providing basic protection, smooth, blemish-free siding is the major appeal of this installation. Older forms of vinyl siding can crack with age, aluminum can dent with a hailstorm or carelessly placed ladder, and wood can warp with exposure to moisture.

Porches: If roofing is the hair and siding is the skin, a new porch has to be the eyes, nose, and mouth. The area of greatest visual interest, homeowners are routinely shocked to see how dramatic a difference a new porch can make for their home's look.

Landscaping: Landscaping typically offers some of the greatest opportunities to personalize your home. Whether you want a garden full of flowers for freckles, a shrubbery hedge, tree pruning, or decorative fences for eyebrows, it's all about the details when it comes to landscaping.

Timelines: The face transplant at the Cleveland Clinic took 22 hours to complete. This way seem like a long time but here are the average project lengths for the four stages of a residential face transplant, according to HomeAdvisor, the leader in contractor referral services:

Roof installation—5 days (asphalt roof), 10 days (high-end roof)
Siding installation—12 days
Porch build—11 days
Landscaping—8 days

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Natural Disasters
For humans the prospect of a near-total face transplant almost always portends previous trauma. Houses that received too much of the onslaught of hurricanes from recent years, fires all-too-prevalent in the western United States, or ubiquitous flooding are the most obvious candidates for residential face transplants. Hopefully, these face transplants, like those of us with health insurance, will be funded by your homeowner's insurance policy. Just like you wouldn't want to take a chance with something as important as your facial features, in some cases it may be a good idea to have the damage inspected by a third party. New siding and roofing materials can quickly cover up extensive damage to the support structures of your home. Taking the word of an insurance claims adjuster may leave internal scars that will threaten the long-term integrity of your home.

Diamonds in the Rough
Projects that enhance your home's curb appeal have an immediate impact on your ability to sell your home. Prospective home buyers may drive right past homes that don't grab the eye, or worse, cause people with preconceived visions of their dream home to wince at the sight of your home. With advanced age and deterioration, your home may need the complete four-stage transplant to live up to its potential—better known as a fixer-upper home. Of course, more often, it's the buyer, not the seller, who undertakes this massive project. Taking advantage of already depressed home values and the transformative properties of a residential face transplant can lead to a great investment in your future.

Trends in Face Transplants for the Home
You might ask if these projects are so great, why aren't more people completing these projects? The answer: they are! Recent economic gloom and doom might make you think that things have shut down completely. This is far from the truth. HomeAdvisor reports that demand for siding, porches, and landscaping have all risen in the past year, sometimes in dramatic fashion with a 50 percent jump in porch installation, a 41 percent increase in metal siding installation, and a more modest 17 percent in landscaping.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about a face transplant is the human element. Scientific advancement aside, the ability to go out in public again, shame-free, is the true promise of the medical procedure. Meanwhile, the ability to show off your home to friends and neighbors, the sense of pride from a visually appealing exterior can't be overestimated.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.