Get Set for Spring - Planning Your Exterior Upgrades

April 1st 2009
Get Set for Spring - Planning Your Exterior Upgrades

There is a lot of interest these days from homeowners looking to find ways to save money while investing on improvements to their homes; With Spring around the corner many are beginning to plan their exterior renovations. If you are considering a major renovation project for the summer, now is the time to get your budget and plans in order to ensure the best possible end result.

Currently there is money to be saved by taking advantage of government grants and rebates in which homeowners get cash back for spending money on energy efficiency improvements; in addition to the Federal Home Renovation Tax Credit for many other qualifying upgrades. Most importantly, before you make any major purchases, familiarize yourself with programs that are available to homeowners. Incentives are available to help cover costs of upgrades to heating, insulation, windows and doors, draft proofing and more. LiveSmart BC and the Federal ecoENERGY Retrofit both are offer grants as incentives to make energy saving retrofits to homes. Keep in mind it is worthwhile for some homeowners to invest in renovations regardless of the government incentives since new doors; windows and insulation make the home more comfortable and energy efficient cutting down on home heating bills.

To help you get started, here are a few items to consider when planning exterior upgrades to your home.

If you are planning to improve the street appeal of your home by replacing siding and windows, take this opportunity to draft-seal and upgrade the insulation by adding sheets of rigid foam under the siding. Wall insulation should have an R-value (an R value is the measure of thermal resistance) of R20 to R22. Six-inch glass fibre is R20, while six-inch rock mineral wool (Roxul) is R22. Insulation may come in batts or loose fill, which can be blown into place. Options for upgrading the insulation in exterior walls are spray foams or rigid-foam sheets applied on the outside or inside of the walls.

Replacing old doors and windows not only improves the look of your home both inside and outside but it makes it more energy efficient as well. If you are feeling drafts from old windows, it maybe time to replace them with newer windows that are more efficient. Garage and entry doors can be a prominent focal point so it's worth it to replace old, doors with something dressier to match the style of your home. Replace a boring, blank garage door for an attractive and functional unit to give your home.

WINDOWS: It's ideal to replace windows at the same time as you upgrade exterior walls. By combining these retrofits, you will benefit through savings in both energy and labour costs for the installation. Replacing older, drafty windows with new Energy Star-rated windows will noticeably improve the comfort level of your home, in addition to improving the street appeal. When choosing windows, look for Energy Star-labeled windows with low-e squared coating and argon gas.

DOORS: Replace entrance doors with Energy Star-rated insulated steel or fibreglass doors. Ask these questions:
- Is it Energy Star-rated?
- How is the frame designed under the steel or fibreglass to ensure secure mounting for locks and dead bolts?
- Does the frame have generic weather-stripping for future replacement?
Ask for pre-finished "powder coated" doors for the best finish. If door is "primed painted" it must be painted with quality exterior latex paint within six months of installation.

Although rarely the first thing you notice, a roof makes a strong impression on your home's style. Today, effective roofing relies on advanced material technology and an integrated systems approach to your home, ensuring attic ventilation is address when replacing your roof. Roofing materials vary from the traditional three tab or strip shingles that have been around for several years, to architectural fibreglass laminated shingles, cedar, slate or metal roofing. Do not be impressed with some of the new products that claim to have extraordinary warranties but no history to back them up - Buyer Beware. Contact the Roofing Contractors Association of BC @ 604-882-9734 for more information on roofing. When deciding which product to use, consider the overall style and look of your house that will fit in with the neighborhood.

Upgrades such as windows, doors, garages, roofs, siding and landscaping all will enhance and update your home's curb appeal. They are long-term investment that will affect the value of your home so you should research your options carefully. Now is the time to do your research and line up reputable contractors for the job since the ones in demand book up quickly. Contact The Shell Busey's Home Services Referral Network to find certified contractors in your area.