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November 2015>

Check Home Exterior before Winter Hits

Winter House

Fall is a good time to get your home’s exterior in shape for the winter ahead. You don’t want to face blowing snow and cold temperatures with missing shingles, gaps around doors and windows or cracks in the foundation. Not looking for problems isn’t the same as not having them, so devote a weekend soon to maintenance for your home’s exterior.

Tidy Up

You can’t fix what you can’t see, so your first step should be a thorough cleaning. If leaves have already begun to fall in your area, rake them away from your home’s foundation so you can get a good look at it. If the perimeter of your home is obscured by weeds or flowers whose bloom is off, get out your weed whacker and take care of the overgrowth.

Look for Damage

Once you can see the foundation, you can spot any cracks that might have appeared. While you always want to hope you won’t see any, spotting one is not necessarily bad news (not so with termites). Minor cracks in the cement surface of a foundation can be part of the normal settling any house experiences. If you see big cracks or cracks that are getting bigger, it’s best to call for a professional assessment. When you’re sure the foundation is straight, even and sound, take a look at the walls. Note any areas that are crumbling, cracking or disintegrating.

Clean the Walls

Fall is the perfect time to subject your exterior to a good power washing. Stone, brick, cement, stucco or siding can all benefit from a thorough cleaning. Get advice on what type of washer to rent, what type of cleanser to load it with and what setting to use so you only strip off the dirt and not the actual material. Don’t forget the porch and the deck  they’re dirty too.

Condition Revealed

Cleaning really allows you to see what shape your home’s exterior is in. If, when you’re done, it looks like new, all clean and shiny  great! If you knocked off a few dozen shingles in the process, if your stucco crumbled before your eyes or if your bricks came crashing down as if the Big Bad Wolf himself was huffing and puffing on them, you know it’s time your home get a new covering.

Renovation by Burbach expertly installs a full range of home coverings, from siding to stone to wood (no straw!). If you think your home’s covering can be salvaged, call Renovation by Burbach. They can do a full and proper assessment of any needed repairs. If you think it’s beyond repair, they can help you decide the best material to replace it with. You depend on your home’s exterior to keep you warm and dry, and it depends on you to make sure it’s in good condition, so be sure to hold up your end of the bargain this fall.

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Are Gutter Guards a Good Investment?

Gutter Guards

Gutter guards. Should you get them? We don’t think so. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this popular product and see why homeowners are attracted to it and why it’s not the miracle they are hoping for.

Gutters need to be kept clean so that water can be properly directed away from your home, where it could otherwise do serious damage. Cleaning should be done at least twice a year, in the spring and fall, and possibly more often if you live in a heavily wooded area.

Weigh the Costs

It’s this cleaning schedule homeowners seek to avoid with the purchase of gutter guards. Gutter cleaning costs can range from $50 up to $325, depending upon the height of your home, the length and number of your gutters and the area of the country in which you live. According to homeadvisor.com, most homeowners spent between $101 and $190 per cleaning

According to Angie’s List, gutter guards cost an average of $6 to $7.50 per foot, and the average home has 200 feet of gutters, so that puts your installation cost at $1,200 to $1,500. That’s the same as about six years’ worth of cleaning, and gutter guards aren’t maintenance free.

If you get gutter guards, you can’t just have them installed and fuhgeddaboudit. Experts still recommend you have them cleaned at least once every two years. That’s better than twice a year, but is it significantly better? And let’s take a look at what can go wrong after you have gutter guards installed.

Unsatisfied Customers

“Our problem is with debris catching on top on the guard or cover. It builds up and allows plants to grow on top. We have tried three different types of guards and the problem has been the same with all three.”

“We have them on our patio roof and the water/rain scoots across the surface of those (regardless of all the holes) and runs down the front side and drips from the bottom of the gutter.

“You get ice dams, and the ice is actually helped along by fastening itself to the gutter guard and acting as a facilitator for the ice to hang on and become a larger piece than if it wasn’t there!”

These comments posted online by consumers demonstrate how this quick fix isn’t always what it’s promised to be.

Let’s Just Be Real

It would be nice if we had paint that didn’t peel, grass that never grew taller than two inches and gutters that never needed cleaning, but really, it’s not realistic. Getting your gutters cleaned is a necessary chore, but this timely task is also a good opportunity for trained professionals to spot any problems with your roof, soffits or fascia so they can be repaired before they get worse.

If you have any questions about or problems with your gutters, call us here at Renovation by Burbach. We can install, repair or inspect your gutters so that your house is protected from rain, snow, ice and more this winter. And if you’re thinking about having gutter guards installed, we can walk you through your options and help you decide if such a project would benefit you and your home.

 

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Want a Smooth Remodel? Plan, Plan, Plan

Remodeling Plan

The first step in a successful home remodel is a plan. And not just any plan, either — a careful, well-thought-out plan yields the best results.

A home exterior renovation is different from an interior one in many ways, but one key difference is motivation. You may grow tired of items piling up in your cramped kitchen or you may wish your outdated bathroom was more functional, but the outside of your home often resides only in the back of your mind (if even there).

Safety First

Although it is possible for a home exterior to become unsafe, the biggest reason homeowners opt to remodel this part of their home is looks. Any breach in your home’s covering, including cracking, splitting or broken or missing pieces, can lead to a host of problems, all of which can be the downfall of your home.

Mold, mildew, wood rot, vermin infestations — any of these that are allowed to continue unabated in your home will be difficult and expensive to remedy. Generally, when property owners become aware of potential problems like this, they move to remedy them immediately.

However, what if your exterior is still functional, but it’s just ugly? It may not be broke, but you can see it still needs fixin’.

What to Do?

Like your old snow boots, your old car or your old couch, you may have loved your exterior when you first got it, but now every time you look at it, all you can think is that it has seen better days. But if all you know is that you don’t want what you have now, how do you know what direction to go in?

Start by looking at some pictures of other houses online to see what type of finish you gravitate toward. Do you like wood? Stucco? Stone? Pick a few of your favorites, then move on to pricing. If fieldstone with gingerbread trim isn’t in your budget, it’s best to know that early, before you get your heart set on it.

When you determine how much you can afford and what you can get for that price, it’s time to think about aesthetics. Vinyl siding is a popular choice because it is economical, easy to install and requires little maintenance.

Details, Details

Even among vinyl, however, you have seemingly endless choices — clapboard, Dutch lap, vertical, board and batten, and more. Stucco can be applied with dozens of different finishes, and natural stones are all unique.

Then there’s color. Even if you narrow it down to “green,” you’re likely going to have hundreds of choices. Even white comes in dozens of shades!

Your exterior is more than your siding, too, it’s your trim. Often this is where real distinctions can be made.

The last thing you want in a remodeling project is any surprises. Sit down with our experts here at Renovation by Burbach to begin the planning stage. Make sure you get through it all so you know what to expect from beginning to end. And be prepared for glitches — few home renovation projects are quick and easy. But having an experienced team of professionals on your side when you are planning a remodel can make the difference between a smooth, satisfying project and one fraught with headaches, so take that first step and call us for a free consultation.

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Return on Investment for Siding Still High

Siding ROI

Siding still provides a decent return on investment — one of only a few home improvements holding its own in a shaky market. Although the numbers are up and down, many projects have generally been bringing in a lower ROI in the last 10 years.

In 2005, homeowners could expect an 86 percent ROI on home improvements. The cost-to-value ratio hit a low in 2011 with a 57 percent ROI, according to Remodeling magazine (check out the full report here: http://goo.gl/xmE8Oo). That’s a whopping 30 percent difference, and that can translate into tens of thousands of dollars lost for today’s homeowner.

Whereas the value of home improvements began a steady decline in 2009, interrupted by a slight rise in 2014 followed by another drop this year, the real culprit in this equation is the rising costs of renovations. What causes these fluctuations?

Free Market Economy

The U.S. economy affects wide swaths of many industries, and real estate and home improvements are two of the biggies. The rising value of many homes has given birth to a cash cow for many homeowners in the form of ballooning home equity. Many homeowners are choosing to use this found money to remodel, making two-by-fours a hot commodity. With the rising cost of materials comes the rising cost of remodeling.

Luckily, no two-by-fours are necessary when you get new siding. And this is where a closer look at the numbers shows an important difference.

While the overall ROI is lower, the percentage varies for different projects in different areas of the country. A kitchen remodel in rural Iowa could offer a 50 percent ROI, while the same project could net San Francisco homeowners an ROI over 100 percent. In fact, the ROI on midrange vinyl siding has increased, from 78 to 80 percent.

What You See Is What You Get

Numbers-crunchers theorize that exterior projects are less affected by these market fluctuations because they are more visible — no one can see your granite countertops from the street. Curb appeal has a huge influence over property perceptions. Of course anyone house shopping is going to look at the inside of a home, but many can’t get past the lasting image of a shabby exterior, regardless of what they find inside. People are left with the impression that if the outside isn’t taken care of, the inside isn’t either.

That’s why if you’re thinking of selling your home, it’s critical the exterior be in tip-top shape. And even if you plan to stay in your home for a long time, it’s more satisfying to spend your hard-earned dollars on a project that will stand the test of time and be a true investment for you.

Call Renovation by Burbach to find out more about home exteriors and what type would be best for your house and budget. New siding for your home will provide you with the value and the return on investment you are looking for in your next home improvement project. 

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Finestone Stucco Is Your Best Choice for Durability

Finestone Stucco

Did you know that not all stucco is equal? Finestone Stucco is much more equal than others.

Stucco has been around for hundreds of years, and it likely will be around for hundreds more. It was originally made of lime, sand and water, but nowadays Portland cement is used in place of lime, in most cases.

Types of Lath

Its consistency requires the use of a device that will hold it in place as it dries, and this is what lath is for. Lath was originally made of wood, but eventually the switch to metal was made, as it was cheaper and more readily available. (This can help you estimate the age of a structure — whether you find wood or metal lath under the exterior. If it’s metal, it likely doesn’t date back before World War II.)

Metal lath was better, except when it rusted. Galvanizing helped, but the dawn of fiberglass lath was a major breakthrough in the industry. Fiberglass is lighter, cheaper, doesn’t rust, and is faster and easier to install.

The Finestone system uses PermaLath 1,000. It’s rust-free, allows for good product penetration and offers better resistance to cracking.

Fiberglass lath allows for better adherence with fewer breaches of the moisture barrier, so mold and rot are no longer a concern. The Finestone stucco base and finish are compatible with metal lath, however, so if you are replacing your stucco, you don’t have to replace all of your lath if you don’t want to.

Stucco Coatings

Because Finestone stucco requires only two coats instead of the traditional three, contractors save time, and homeowners save money. Finestone’s stucco base is strong, durable, crack-resistant and premixed by the manufacturer, so the proportions are always right and no guesswork on the part of the installer is necessary. This also makes for an easier, faster application.

The base is covered by an acrylic finish, which is superior to others because the color won’t fade as quickly and it retards mildew and dirt buildup, making it look better, longer with less effort by the homeowner. This finish is available in a wide variety of standard colors, but you can have any color you want if you go the custom route.

Check it Out

Stucco is popular because it’s beautiful, easy to care for and economical. It’s fire-resistant rating helps homeowners save money on insurance, too.

If you’re thinking of finishing (or re-finishing) your home with stucco, call the experts at Renovation by Burbach. We have finished hundreds of homes with stucco and have witnessed many changes in the industry. That’s how we know that Finestone Stucco is the best product for anyone in the market for a new stucco exterior.

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Remodeling Your Home’s Exterior? Software Can Help!

Remodeling Software

Are you cautious by nature? Home exterior remodeling software can allay your fears by allowing you a glimpse into the future to see what your house would look like with a new covering — Renoworks is the crystal ball of remodeling!

Home design software and apps aren’t new, but their quality runs the gamut. Some apps are free, some are not. Design software can cost as little as $30 or more than $500.

Closest Thing to Real

Renoworks is a popular tool among manufacturers, builders, remodelers, retailers, distributors and even some homeowners. Click on this link for a short tutorial on how you can use the software at home to try out new looks for your house.

The results are extremely realistic, partly due to the sophistication of the tools, but also because Renoworks partners with manufacturers. When you click on the siding tool, you choose from a list of manufacturers, then you choose a color. This way, you get to see the exact color as it would look on your house, versus a generic “yellow” or “brown.”

Inside and Out

You may only be in the market for new siding, but this tool also allows you to see what your home would look like with new windows, doors and roofing, as well as indoor elements, including countertops and flooring. Funding a change out the inside and outside of your home can be a challenge, but down the road, if you decide to remodel the inside, this tool will be standing by, ready to help you.

Renoworks offers a free 14-day trial, but if you don’t have the time and aren’t really tech-savvy, let our professional remodeling consultants do the work for you. All of the products we use, including James Hardie Siding, Finestone Stucco Systems, Dutch Quality Stone and more, are loaded into the software so you can see exactly what you would get. We offer free design consultations, so there’s no risk.

Look Before You Buy

Shopping is a highly personal experience, and consumers have a variety of preferences. Many people order clothes online, but some would never dream of making a purchase without trying the item on first, even if it is returnable. There’s just something about touching an item before you buy it. Is it heavy (durable)? Is the fabric soft, but strong? Is the item bigger or smaller than you thought? It can be hard to commit to a product you’ve never seen.

What differentiates ordinary consumer goods with products like new home exteriors is that you can’t just pop your siding into the return mailer and get your money back! It’s a big purchase, an important choice. You want to make the right one. And that’s why this design software is so valuable — it can help you make the correct decision, one you’ll be happy with for many years to come.

If you want to plug your home into Renoworks, give us a call here at Renovation by Burbach and we can set up a free consultation. We’ll take a picture of your home, upload it and show you all the possibilities for your biggest investment. Home exterior remodeling software is the 21st-century fix for agonizing over your next big home purchase.

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