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Exterior Projects to Consider - With Side Benefits

Preparing a home for fall and winter is vital, regardless of whether you live in an extremely chilly area of the country or not. There are often benefits – and money to be saved in the long run – of taking care of issues ahead of time; still, many homeowners tend to ignore annual tasks until there is a major and costly problem. Take a few minutes now to check your home’s exterior for anything that needs your attention.

Are you simply more interested in curb appeal? Now is the time to get in the project queue for this, too. Whether it’s a sign of the current economy or homeowners are becoming more concerned with first impressions, exterior replacement projects are ranked highest in terms of home improvements that retain the most value, according to the 24th annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report.

For example, if your home has a great framework, but lacks originality, a simple refresh with new siding, windows, and accents in different colors and textures can make a big difference. New windows are also a noticeable architectural feature with the added benefit of increased energy efficiency indoors. Some key elements to consider for beautiful window design include style, grille pattern, and color. For an even more personalized home-exterior upgrade, consider cosmetic, nonstructural architectural changes, in addition to the replacement of windows and siding.

Here is our list for seasonal maintenance projects along with more elaborate home improvements that will pay off down the road:

Clean out gutters. Debris made up of leaves, pine needles and sticks can quickly clog up a gutter, which can lead to ice and water damage when winter arrives. Another potential hazard of a clogged gutter would be it might pull away from the home.

Pressure wash your home’s siding to remove built-up dirt and mildew. This small preventative maintenance can help extend your siding for many years.

Turn off outside-faucet water or at least make sure those pipes are insulated. Be sure to shut off the water going to the faucet, and then open the faucet to drain out any existing water. Every year frozen pipes cause extensive damage. One of the primary pipes that can crack due to freezing is the plumbing leading to outside faucets. 

Remove and drain outside garden hoses to extend their life. Even though they may be made of rubber they still will crack if water freezes in them. 

Caulk holes and cracks in your home’s siding, paying particular attention to window and door areas. This prevents cold breezes from entering your home while preventing heat from escaping resulting in more efficient and cheaper heating bills. Caulking also stops water from infiltrating your home and rotting wood.

Weatherstrip doors and windows. Properly sealed doors and windows also will reduce heating bills and ensure your home remains comfortable during the winter months. This also may be the time for window replacement if needed or desired.

Don’t forget lawn-mower maintenance. Winter is the time to drain and replace fluids, scrape down the blade and deck, and swap out the spark plug. Be sure to spray some non-stick cooking spray to the underside of your mower deck to help keep it clean and free of rust.

Check out the snow blower or snow shovel before a big storm hits to assure it is in fine working order. 

Inspect and tune up your heating system because if well-maintained you can save money and stay safer indoors.

Avoid potential fires by checking that chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures are free from debris, bird nests, and squirrels. 

Inspect all decks, porches, and steps for broken and rotten boards. Now is also a good time to pressure-wash and seal all wooden surfaces.

Add or replace shutters to spruce up your home’s appearance and curb appeal.

Take advantage of this slower time of year to embark on landscaping, hardscaping, and outdoor lighting projects. This is also a good time to plan, revamp or build arbors, gazebos, and outbuildings.

While we have touched on some main projects, an all-inclusive list should also include:

  • Inspect the soffit and fascia for decay and damaged boards.
  • Check under the house for leaks, animals, and standing water.
  • Inspect all painted surfaces for pealing paint, mildew, and rotten wood.
  • Cracked and broken window panes should be noted.
  • Window screens cleaned, repaired or replaced.
  • Foundations cleared of debris and inspected for evidence of termites and insects.
  • Roofs inspected for missing or broken shingles. (Hint: Stay on the ground and use binoculars for this one.)
  • Check chimneys and roof vents for missing caps. (See hint above.)
  • Check fences for missing boards and rotten posts.
  • Rinse off your A/C compressor and look for rust.
  • Clean patio furniture and paint if needed.
  • Inspect driveways and walkways for cracks and shifting. This is a good time to pressure wash and seal concrete surfaces.

While the average homeowner can perform many of these checks and repairs activities involving ladders or roofs are best left to experienced professionals.

For more significant home architecture projects, after envisioning exterior changes for your home, share your thoughts with a remodeling contractor. By taking care of business in the fall and winter, you will have a huge headstart in making your dream home a reality come spring and summer.

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Writing collaborated by Duane Johns (Advanced Renovations, Inc.) and Ginger Sprinkle @ nine dots branding & marketing company (

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