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Helping Your Homeowner Understand the True Cost of Exterior Home Renovations

As a homeowner, getting the most value out of a property means knowing which levers to pull. A combined study conducted by the University of Alabama and University of Texas at Arlington shows those who paid attention to their exterior sold their properties for around 7% more than those who didn’t.

As a contractor, you know that understanding what to change and how much to spend can make a substantial difference to a homeowner's asking price. However, finding the balance between the cost of renovations and adding value to the property is key. Advice about the ins and outs of finding this balance is therefore a good conversation starter when working with a homeowner thinking about an exterior face-lift for their property. Here are some of the discussion points worth raising.

How much does it cost to renovate the exterior of a house?

Helping your client set up a budget for exterior renovations will largely depend on what needs to be done. Simple landscaping and a fresh coat of paint on the porch might be enough for some properties, while others may need much more: fresh siding, a new roof, new windows, and/or professional landscaping. It's worth noting that there are national average costs, however, and each state or region has its own costing models based on the availability of materials and labor, job-site specific needs, and a host of other factors.

What is the average cost to replace a roof?

Many homeowners may not know that the national average cost for a quality roof replacement can range from less than $25,000 to more than $40,000.

Why it costs what it costs
Roofing costs can vary according to a number of factors. Here are a few of the most important:

  • The number of penetrations (HVAC units, chimneys, skylights, etc.)
  • The size of the roof
  • The material used (for instance, shingles are far more cost-effective than slate)
  • The cost of labor in the area
  • The complexity of the roof type

You may also want to explain other factors that might affect the price of a new roof, including the conditions affecting the replacement: whether the roof's structure needs to be replaced, for example, or the number of layers of shingles that have to be removed first.

While it's a costly exercise, it’s estimated that a roof replacement can offer returns of up to 60%, which is a good talking point with a client that may be on the fence. A new roof also has a 30- to 100-year lifespan.

How much does it cost to re-side a house?

From the client perspective, siding can instantly turn a plain exterior into a showstopper, but it’s important for the homeowner to realize that it's going to cost a lot more than a few gallons of paint. Help your client make the right choice by explaining that there are a number of siding options that range from easy-to-install and cost-effective to specialized applications that are a little more pricey, but potentially more durable and attractive.

Why it costs what it costs
There are four main variables that can impact pricing variations when it comes to re-siding a home:

  • The cost of materials (vinyl is cheaper than stone cladding)
  • The availability of labor
  • Whether specialists laborers, such as stucco experts, are needed
  • The availability of materials in that state or region

Vinyl: Vinyl siding has come a long way, and its durability is unquestionable. It’s easy to maintain, install, and has a seemingly endless range of options in terms of colors and finishes. This is a product worth recommending for clients with a tight budget as product and installation costs run as low as $16,500 to reside a home.

Wood: Wood offers an undisputed layer of warmth that can bring out the best in properties. However, it comes at a price. A homeowner looking to re-side their home in wood can expect to pay around $23,000, and should be warned to expect regular maintenance costs as well.

Stone: Stone provides an extra layer of grandeur, and when a client is thinking of shelling out $30,000-$50,000 to re-side their home in stone, it's good to let them know that it adds a significant hike to their property value.

Stucco: Stucco requires a contractor who knows what they’re doing, as it’s a specialized siding technique. Advise clients that replacing stucco can cost as much as $12,000.

As a final thought, it is also worth reminding the homeowner that they need to consider more than just aesthetics: paint will do little, for example, to improve the energy efficiency of their home.

What's the approximate cost of windows?

It's also worth discussing the costs and benefits of window replacements with clients considering exterior home renovation. Windows can add significantly to the aesthetic appeal of a property and play an important role in temperature management.

Why it costs what it costs
Here are a few of the factors that can lead to variations in the cost of new windows:

  • The size of the window
  • The type of window, for instance, double-hung or bay windows
  • The material used to fabricate windows such as wood or aluminum
  • Whether specialized windows are used such as double-paned or argon-gas-filled
  • The preparation (labor and materials) required to install the windows such as the removal of old windows, preparing new spaces for the windows, etc.
  • Whether regular or specialized labor is required to fit the windows

At the lower end, advise clients that they can expect to pay around $400 per window just for the material alone at the lower end of the spectrum. Vinyl is a cheaper option; wooden and fiberglass windows are more expensive and can cost as much as $3,500 for a single pane, excluding installation. For triple-pane rather than double-pane windows, these costs would increase further. Clients should therefore be advised to expect to pay upward of $19,000 to replace a whole house-full of windows.

How much does a front door cost?

Why it costs what it costs
There are two key factors that can lead to front-door cost variations:

  • The material used in the fabrication
  • Additional features that need to be installed, such as electrical components

An exterior door can be an opportunity to make a statement, but clients should be warned that that statement comes at a price. You can advise clients that they can expect to pay up to $3,000 for a quality steel entry door and as much as $10,000 for a fiberglass entry. Custom doors can include insets, such as glass and steel, and specialized lighting.

What is the average cost for home landscaping?

Why it costs what it costs
There are a number of factors that can lead to variations in the cost of landscaping. Here are four of the most important to consider:

  • Some plants are more expensive than others - fully grown trees, for example, cost more than younger saplings
  • Some garden features require specialized installation
  • Labor costs may vary according to the terrain
  • Some landscaping may require heavy-duty equipment, such as excavation equipment

While simple landscaping projects can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, those that can affect a client's sale price tend to run between $5,000 to $100,000. A good rule of thumb to offer clients is to stick to a landscaping budget of 10% of the total property value. Homeowners with a property valued at $500,000, for example, should be advised not to spend more than $50,000 on landscaping.

Factors that affect the cost of landscaping include the size of the garden, which plants the homeowner chooses, and whether there are other special features, such as water features or statues.

What else should a homeowner consider when renovating the exterior of a home?

Permits

It’s always best to check with the local council whether a project requires a permit. Simple changes, such as installing windows, fencing, plumbing, or electrical work, or structural changes may require a permit. Fencing permits start from as little as $20, whereas permits for new construction can run into the thousands. These are budget items your client may not have anticipated.

Time

Time-consuming projects can be more expensive, as you need to pay laborers a daily rate. This can be off-putting for clients. One way to ensure your client doesn't get cold feet is to include a late fee agreement in your contract. This protects the completion time of the project and any time-related costs, and gives the client peace of mind. As a professional, you need to ensure your estimates are accurate and factor in delays.

Labor rates

Different states have different labor rates, and these can also vary from one county to another. While hiring labor at the cheapest rate is tempting, it’s important to make sure the team you put together has the skills and experience to provide a good quality, turnkey project. Advise your client on what it will cost to get the job done right, so they can budget for your expertise accordingly.

Upkeep

A large component of any homeowner's renovation decision-making should consider upkeep. For instance, an overly landscaped garden can be a money pit and may scare off potential buyers, whereas the right siding can cut down on cleaning, maintenance, and repair costs.

How to budget for exterior home renovations

The cost of the renovation should always take the value of the home--and its maximum potential value--into consideration. Planning, research, and cost comparisons are essential factors to include when tallying up the cost of the potential renovation. It’s important to help your homeowner compare the cost of the renovation with its expected return on investment, so they can formulate a reasonable and realistic budget.

The bottom line

Finding a balance between renovations that suit a client's wants and those that provide the best return on investment for a property can be tricky. Sign up with HOVER to fast-track your next project with a 3D modelling app that lets you design a client's dream property and provide accurate estimates. You can also schedule a meeting with a HOVER representative for that in-person experience. Check out our pricing for a membership plan that suits your needs--and more importantly--your budget.

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