It's a fact of modern life ... many homeowners are currently living in a house they like well enough, but don't expect to stay in long term. Are you in this position? If so, you're likely to be all too familiar with the dilemma; just how much effort (not to mention cash) should you invest in home improvement? Well, take heart. There are plenty of projects you can do that offer the best of both worlds; increasing enjoyment of your home right now, while paying off in terms of curb appeal when the time eventually comes to sell and move on. Here are seven of them, geared toward the exterior of your home.
Clean, clean, clean. Cleaning is a simple yet remarkably effective upgrade, so clean your home's exterior until it shines. Clear away all the cobwebs, fallen leaves, dead bugs, and anything else that screams "Neglect." You may want to power wash the outer walls, porch, walkway, steps, and driveway. Popular Mechanics offers an excellent consumer guide on how to power wash your house safely and effectively.
Redo your outside walls. Paint your house exterior for the fastest and cheapest enhancement. Alternatively, install siding to create a whole new look. Fiber cement siding and manufactured stone veneer installation generally provide the optimum return on your investment. Insulated siding will increase your home's energy efficiency, too.
Replace or refresh the front door. According to Remodeling Magazine's respected Cost vs. Value report, a new entry door will not only make a gorgeous house look even better, but also give a great return on investment when you put your home on the market.
If your door is in basically good shape, save money by refinishing it instead. Realtors recommend choosing colors that draw attention in a subtle way; wood stain, black, blue, or red, rather than chartreuse or lavender. While you're at it, polish up your hardware; the door knocker and handle; as well.
Put your porch in order. Scrub the porch floor, screens, window sills, and outdoor furniture. Make sure that the railings are in good repair and free of rust or peeling paint. Consider installing new house numbers, in a simple, easy-to-read font that will be clearly visible from the street. This last is uber important if you are selling your home; you want to make very sure would-be buyers can actually find you.
Upgrade your garage and driveway. Decide whether it's time for a garage door opener replacement; typical lifespan for this handy device is 10-12 years, and the newest models offer great new safety and security features. You might choose to replace the entire garage door at this time, changing it for an energy-saving insulated model with a clean modern look. Remove any grease stains from your driveway. Repair or resurface the driveway and sidewalk if necessary.
Spruce up your landscaping. Get rid of any hazards such as dead trees and branches. Prune your shrubs neatly. Rake the yard and fill in bald spots with grass seed or sod. If your yard is a testimony to your black thumb; or just has a few problem areas (like the spot where a large tree was just removed, perhaps?), fill in with mulch. Reduce your heating and cooling bills by planting a handsome hedge around your house to buffer summer sun and winter wind.
Add a deck. Decks are highly in demand among homebuyers and add that special welcoming touch to your property. A platform deck, which doesn't require steps or railings, tends to be the easiest and least expensive kind you can install. Because it's only a few inches off the ground, you probably won't need a building permit, making construction even simpler and cheaper.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.