Owning a home is a 365-day-a-year commitment -- a mortgage to pay, a yard to maintain and bills to juggle. But experts say that evaluating key exterior elements of your home at least once annually can prevent some bills from skyrocketing.
"The key to saving money and keeping a home comfortably livable is to be proactive in evaluating and fixing its major components," says Mark Clement, host of MyFixItUpLife home improvement radio show and a professional contractor for 20 years. "Don't wait to replace older, inefficient windows until your energy bills soar out of control. Investing in newer, more energy efficient and low maintenance exterior products can have a major impact on the livability and return on investment of a home and deliver terrific peace of mind."
If your roof is damaged by severe weather or is old and leaking, investing in a new roof made of durable polymer slate or shake tiles will pay off for decades to come. For example, some companies make shingles that have a 50-year warranty, resist impact, fire and all kinds of insects.
For exterior trim pieces, swap out wood trim that is susceptible to rotting and insect infestation with urethane and PVC trim products.
"Synthetic millwork, like pieces that are available from Fypon, resist moisture, humidity, insects and termites, swelling and rot," Clement advises. "Once you install these low-maintenance trim pieces around doors, windows, soffits and other exterior areas, you're golden."
For functional areas of the home, like windows and doors, use solidly-constructed, man-made products. For example, energy-efficient vinyl windows and a fiberglass entryway systems could have long-term warranties, and can help you enhance the long-term value and aesthetic appeal of your home while saving on energy bills.
A recent report on return-on-investment and home repair, the "Remodeling 2011–12 Cost vs. Value Report" (www.costvsvalue.com), shows that replacing older, inefficient windows with upscale vinyl windows is one of the ten most popular projects with payback for homeowners, and has a higher projected return-on-investment than several other popular home upgrade projects, including bathroom remodels or additions, major kitchen remodels or the addition of a master suite.
"Almost no building product lasts forever," he warns. "Homeowners should continually evaluate the exterior elements on their home, research replacement options, and invest in products that are solidly constructed by a quality manufacturer that offers a strong warranty."
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