Which Exterior Remodeling Project Will You Tackle Next?

Does a walk around the outside of your house trigger a list of like-to-do or need-to-do remodeling projects? Maybe you loathe the color of your siding and are dying to make a change. Perhaps you’ve discovered a leak in your roof. Or you might be gearing up to put your home on the market.

If you’re making remodeling decisions that involve your roof, walls, windows, or doors, it may be helpful to check out new research from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). 

Its 2019 Remodeling Impact Report looks at both interior and exterior projects, sharing perspectives from consumers, real estate professionals, and remodeling experts. 

New Roof

You may consider the roof over your head the least exciting feature of your home, but a new roof earned the top spot among REALTORS® when ranking exterior projects that are most likely to appeal to buyers and most likely to add resale value.

Nearly two in five respondents (39 percent) have suggested that their clients replace the roof before attempting to sell the home.

After all, real estate professionals usually have extensive experience with home inspections. Old or damaged roofs will probably show up in an inspection report, prompting buyers to insist on repairs or replacement. Typically, sellers are in a stronger negotiating position if they correct problems before listing their home.

The good news is that a new roof had the best cost recovery estimate, at 107 percent. Of course, this also depends on the type of materials used. 

New Windows

Homeowners’ top reason for replacing their windows was to improve energy efficiency. This was true regardless of whether they opted for vinyl or wood windows.

In terms of costs, remodelers estimated that it’s over 50 percent more expensive to install wood windows in the average home (roughly 2,500 sq. ft.) than vinyl windows—$35,000 versus $22,500.

Comparing those costs to REALTORS®’ estimates of recovery at resale, vinyl windows offered a better value (71 percent) than wood windows (57 percent).

It’s important to note that the cost recovery estimates in the report only considered how much a project would add to resale value. They did not include any savings a homeowner would enjoy by making a home more energy-efficient—the primary reason homeowners replaced their windows. 

New Siding

Seven in 10 homeowners decided to re-side their house with vinyl or fiber cement boards to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials. 

Eight percent of homeowners tackled this project because they planned to sell their home in the next two years.

New fiber cement siding is more expensive (estimated at $19,700) but offered better cost recovery (76 percent). In contrast, new vinyl siding was estimated at $15,800, with 63 percent cost recovery.

New Front Door

Whether selecting steel or fiberglass, the top reason homeowners opted for a new front door was to improve energy efficiency. Upgrading worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials was a secondary reason for tackling this exterior remodeling project.

Installing a new fiberglass front door costs more ($2,700) than a steel door ($2,000), but both options were expected to yield 75 percent cost recovery at resale. 

New Garage Door

Remodeling professionals estimated the cost of installing a new garage door at $2,100, making it comparable to replacing a front door. However, from a cost-recovery basis, a new garage door is substantially more appealing.

A new garage door yielded the second-highest recovery rate at resale, at 95 percent.

More than one in six REALTORS® (16 percent) say they have recommended that homeowners replace their garage door before listing the home. 

Learn More

The 2019 Remodeling Impact Report provides more details on these and other renovation projects, including the most satisfying interior renovations.