There are dozens of guides available to anyone who is hiring a contractor, but there are some preparations you need to make before you make the first phone call. My friends in the automobile business love it when customers walk in not knowing what they want. I suspect a siding sales rep would be the same. Moreover, do you really know what problems are hiding behind your existing siding?
Here are seven steps you can take to be sure your project will succeed:
- Before you do anything, know how much you can spend. Not only will this give you the assurance that you can complete the project once you begin, but it will also help you make the right decision on what materials to use.
- Don't get surprised by structural problems. Build it into your cost estimate. One of the things that can blow your budget is hidden moisture damage to the structure of the home. If you are re-siding a house that is even a few years old, consider hiring a certified, tech-savvy home inspector. A home inspector will use infrared imaging and a borescope to discover problems you can't see (Conway, Wally. Home Inspection Secrets of a Happy Home Inspector: A Guide for Peace of Mind for Home Buyers, Sellers, and the Agents Who Love Them. Someday Publishing, 2013).
- Consider the materials used in your neighborhood. A home with an exterior design substantially different from its close neighbors will stand out in a way that might not be desirable, and it could be hard to sell. I asked my local real estate guru, Bud Howell, about this.
"The subtle differences in siding choices and pattern installation can lend themselves to various architectural styles and are an important component in adding value to the home. A homeowner should always take into consideration the overall style of the community. An English Tudor no matter how nice would look like a sore thumb in [a neighborhood] that has more of a South Florida style." - (Bud Howell, top producing RE/Max Realtor, Jacksonville, Florida)
- Investigate all the siding options that will give you the look you want. Modern technology makes it possible to create fiber cement and vinyl that has the appearance of wood, and panels of composite materials can look like stone. You may find an alternative that gives you the look you want and is easier on your budget.
- Include maintenance effort and cost. How hard you have to work and how much you have to spend to keep your home beautiful is important. Vinyl siding is virtually maintenance-free, while wood siding must be painted about every ten to twenty-five years, depending on the quality of the paint and the skill of the painter. You may need to clean stone walls periodically to remove mold and moss, while synthetic stone may need repairs.
- Learn about the durability of each product you are considering. How long a siding product lasts is a major factor, especially if you intend to remain in a home for a very long time - and it can affect resale values. I would be reluctant to pay top dollar if I knew I would have to replace the siding in a few years.
- Calculate materials, labor and maintenance costs for each of the options you are considering. You will find a very user-friendly set of calculators at Homewyse.com. This will enable you to estimate the total cost of ownership for the period of time you expect to own the home.