Keeping a lovelier and more comfortable home is a year-round priority. An upgrade doesn’t just add greatly to curb appeal, but to the comfort and energy efficiency of your living spaces, as well. Home improvement, however, can take a considerable amount of your time and money. That’s why you need to make sure that the entire process runs smoothly from start to finish. Fortunately, you can do this with careful planning and more informed purchasing decisions. Here are seven handy tips to help ensure a stress-free home exterior makeover:
- Prioritize which projects to invest in. Take a walk around the outside of your home and note which areas need improvement. Some spots may just need a cleanup or a fresh coat of paint, while other may require something more extensive. Critical elements to focus on including your doors and windows, which play a key role in improving your home’s look and feel. If they are already old and failing, the better and longer-lasting solution is a replacement.
- Plan ahead. Do your homework and work a few essentials out before starting your home improvement project. If you’re getting new doors or windows, for example, this means choosing a product brand and a corresponding certified contractor. This way, you can prevent delays and change orders, keeping the project on track and letting you avoid overspending. When you already have an idea on what you want or need, making the necessary decisions can be a bit easier. Here are some of the vital things you should consider when choosing your replacement units:
- Framing Material. Your choice can affect how long your new units last and how well they perform. There are a variety of framing materials available today and each one offers distinct pros and cons. For instance, wood is popular for its strength and insulating value, but is prone to rot, so it requires constant maintenance to keep it in shape. Vinyl has fewer maintenance requirements but warps easily under extreme changes in weather and temperature. Composite, while not as popular, can offer some of the better features of these two options. In fact, composite framing material combines wood’s durability and insulating properties with vinyl’s maintenance-free performance.
CHOOSING WISELY. Take into account the replacement units’ energy efficiency and aesthetics when making your selection.
- Glass Package. Glass forms a significant portion of a door and the largest part of a window so it can greatly affect a unit’s function. It can augment a window’s energy performance, allowing for thermally comfortable rooms, minus the high energy bills. Top door and window companies use modified low-emissivity (low-E) glass, which lets considerable natural light to stream into your home, only without the heat gain. Low-E glass also offers an expansive view of the outdoors, while protecting your home’s interior from sun damage.
- Customization Options. Don’t miss the opportunity to create the door or window that best suits your home. When investing in a replacement, make sure that your new units’ color, hardware, grille pattern, and style can complement your home’s distinctive appearance. This leads to a boost in curb appeal and home value.
- Hire a reliable contractor. Even the highest quality doors and windows will perform poorly if not properly installed that’s why you need to work with the right people. This way, you’re sure that your new units can deliver the exceptional, lasting performance you expect. Choose a contractor that has the necessary credentials, including business license and insurance. Make sure that they have solid warranties included with the replacement units. They should cover the framing material, glass, hardware, and installation. All of this help ensure that you can get the most of your investment.
- Don’t forget the big picture. Always keep your project goals in mind. For example, if you’re planning to improve your home’s energy efficiency via window replacement, you should focus more on aspects related to that goal. This means considering more of the products’ durable construction, insulating value, and heat reflectivity instead of their customization. There are window and door companies, however, that offer choices covering both good looks and efficiency. This allows you to enjoy the windows’ dual advantages in the best way.
PROTECTING YOURSELF. A firm handshake or a verbal agreement just won’t do in an exterior home makeover. Get a written contract from your home improvement company.
- Get a detailed contract. To better protect yourself and your investment, make sure there’s a written, detailed contract before any work begins. Go over it thoroughly and make sure you understand all terms before signing on the dotted line. A proper contract includes:
- A detailed description of the work being done and who is responsible for it.
- The project’s timeframe or start and completion dates to ensure that it will be done in a timely and efficient manner.
- Information on payment terms between you and your contractor.
- Local authorization specifying the contractor’s responsibility for securing the applicable building permits to guarantee adherence to safety codes and regulations.
- An itemized list of materials and labor costs, plus warranty information so you know exactly what you’re getting
Note if there are essentials missing in the contract given to you. Have them included before signing it. All of this help prevent misunderstanding between you and your contractor, allowing for a smoother home makeover process.
- Prepare your home accordingly. You can prevent unnecessary mess or damage by preparing your home before the work starts. If you’re investing in door or window replacement, for instance, you should make sure that the work area is clear of furniture, decorative items, or just about anything that can hamper easy access to the existing unit, although your contractor should be able to help you move around your things should you need assistance. Designate pathways and doors as well that the installers can use when coming into and from your home.
MAKING ARRANGEMENTS. Ensure a stress-free process by hiring a reliable door and window company for the job.
You should also be on the same page with your window and door installation company about mess and damage control. Make sure that your small children or pets are away from the work area. This keeps them safe while ensuring that the work process remains on schedule. As a courtesy, inform your neighbors about the upcoming project. This way, they are aware of the noise and activity, which can possibly disturb them.
- Communicate effectively. Clear and effective communication makes things easier for both you and your contractor. You’ll avoid conflicts and mistakes, ensuring that the project runs without a hitch. By establishing a good relationship with your contractor, you can get the results you want.
Considering these essentials for your home improvement can go a long way in ensuring a safer and smoother process. Just make sure to plan carefully, make wise choices, and hire the right contractor for the job, and you’re all set. Goodluck!
Larry Closs is the President of Renewal by Andersen of South Louisiana, a New Orleans-based company that offers replacement windows and doors. He is also President and Founder of MaxHome – a local construction company that was named the fastest growing construction company in the country in 2014 by Inc Magazine, and they are also a three-time winner of Nola.com and Times-Picayune Top Workplace award. When he’s not in the field, he shares home improvement tips and other industry knowledge through the company blog.