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Exterior Home Remodeling Guide: Tips & Tricks for Planning Your Curb Appeal Projects

posted on April 01, 2021 in Global Blogs

Exterior view of remodeled home

Every home makeover show ends the same way. There’s a big reveal of the finished product, followed by a montage of before and after photos. 

While the effect is meant to build drama for the show, many exterior upgrades truly make a dramatic difference for your home's curb appeal. They just can’t be neatly wrapped up in 30 to 60 minutes. You have to put more time and effort in the planning process. By following these steps, your exterior remodel will feel as effortless as it does on TV.

Pella window and door professional helping homeowner select window features and options

1. Identify the reason why you’re remodeling your home.

As the owner of your home, you can tweak it to your liking as often as you want. But there’s always at least one underlying motivation for the remodel. It might be:

  • Needed maintenance or repair – Storm damage or just regular wear and tear can take its toll on your home’s exterior. The issues may even be more unsightly than problematic. While repairs may not require a complete overhaul of the outside of your home, they do present an opportunity to change things up in small ways.]
  • Replacement – Replacement projects come out of necessity. Anything in bad shape has the potential to cause bigger problems. Broken windows may sap energy efficiency. A crumbling roof can lead to water leaks and damage. There’s always an opportunity for design changes, but your main focus is fixing a costly problem.
  • Stylistic changes – Home trends come and go. Your own style changes over time, too. When you just want to switch up the style, look for the exterior home renovation ideas that make the biggest impact on the appearance of your home.
  • Return on investment – If you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, it’s all about marketability. You want to rely less on what you like and more on what’s popular among prospective homebuyers. Issues that pop up in a home inspection (like a bad roof) may be warranted, but trendy exterior upgrades like black windows are far more appealing. The 2019 Remodeling Impact Report developed by the National Association of Realtors can tell you what appeals to buyers and what affects your resale value.

Establishing which of these is the reason for your remodel upfront will help you make the decisions that align with it later on in the process.

Homeowners in living room look for inspiration planning for remodel of home

2. Create a clear vision for your updated home exterior.

Every remodeling project starts with an idea. Sometimes, you have too many ideas to fit into your budget. So you need to come up with a clear vision for what you want to achieve. Take all your ideas and prioritize them into three categories:

  • Must-have – These exterior home upgrades are the core of your vision. Anything in need of repair or replacement is an obvious must-have. The other ideas must be weighed in order of how much impact they’ll have on your overall vision. For example, if you hate the color of your home and want to come up with a new paint scheme, the siding is going to have a larger impact than the trim. 
  • Nice-to-have – These are exterior remodeling projects that you’re okay without if you feel a budget crunch. It might be something you want to change down the road or just don’t feel as passionately about upgrading. Anything that misses the cut of must-haves fits here. 
  • Dream home – This should be your north star as you plan your exterior renovation project. These are the big remodeling ideas you’d love to have if money weren’t an object. And that’s how you can differentiate dream upgrades from nice-to-haves. If there’s no way it can fit into your current exterior remodel, keep it in mind for inspiration and for when your financial situation changes.

Couple looking at paper in front of laptop computer in living room

3. Set an exterior home renovation budget.

A budget is your best friend when remodeling the exterior of your house. It helps you nail down what will and won’t fit into your renovation plans. It’s pretty easy to come up with a number that you’re comfortable with spending. But a good budget is both realistic and specific. 

Think about all the expenses associated with your remodeling project, not just the advertised cost of windows or new landscaping. Go line by line and estimate every additional expense, including costs from:

  • Installation 
  • Permits
  • Inspections
  • Demolition
  • Waste or removal
  • Labor
  • Interest or other financing
  • Equipment or rentals

Pad your budget to prepare for project overruns. The bigger the exterior house renovation, the more likely you’ll incur an unexpected expense. Surprises both large and small tend to pop up to delay timelines and add to your costs.

Once you have a detailed budget, you can look for opportunities to fit more of your ideas into your remodeling project. You can save by choosing inexpensive materials or taking on some of the work yourself. There are plenty of easy, DIY ways to renovate your home’s exterior if you’re on a tighter budget. 

4. Establish a timeline for your home exterior remodel ideas.

If your home will be undergoing several upgrades, think about the timing and length of each project. You can’t tackle everything at once, and it’s unlikely that professional contractors can either. 

Consider the order of exterior upgrades as well. Should you replace your windows or siding first? Should a new roof be put on before new gutters? It often makes more sense for certain projects to occur after the other, both in terms of your finances and the impact on your home. For a major exterior renovation, this project timeline can help you sort things out:

  1. Roof – For the integrity of your home, you may want to prioritize the roof first. A roof in poor shape can lead to a lot of damage to the structure of your home. It’s also a messy job, with materials falling from great heights, so there’s a potential for damage to anything below if an accident happens. It’s a quick project though, taking just one to three days to complete.
  2. Windows and doors – Ideally, windows and entry doors are replaced before the siding. Installing these first ensures they are set precisely and all the surrounding framing is properly finished without affecting the new siding. With professional installation, you could have new windows and doors in one weekend.
  3. Siding – Siding and windows could be done simultaneously, but it could save you money on rework if this project comes after window installation. New siding takes much longer than other projects, too, averaging two weeks or more to remove the old siding, prep your home, add insulation, install new siding and complete any trim work. Repainting your siding can be done in several days.
  4. Gutters – Gutters may need to be removed for both roofing and siding projects. So you can save time or labor costs by waiting until the end of your renovation to replace them. This depends on your climate though. If rain is in the forecast, it’s important to get your gutters on as soon as possible to prevent damage to your home or water from seeping in through your foundation. Fortunately, new gutters can be installed in a day or less so you can play the weather if needed.

Other exterior home upgrades like garage doors, landscaping, lighting or changes to your front porch don’t impact the structure of your home and can wait until after everything else is completed.

Once you’ve thought about your exterior home renovation in-depth, you can begin the process of getting quotes for your projects. Your contractors will thank you! And you’ll be on your way to a more beautiful home.

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*Study of homeowner perceptions of leading national brands. Study commissioned by Pella, 2021.