The outside looking up

Increased curb appeal, energy efficiency, and low maintenance lead attributes of increasing number of exterior remodeling projects.

February 18, 2013

The majority of homeowners who are investing in exterior remodeling projects desire an updated exterior appearance to enhance their home’s curb appeal in addition to an exterior product that provides higher energy efficiency and lower maintenance, according to the 2013 Professional Remodeler Exterior Project Trends survey.

“People are looking for a high-value, low-maintenance exterior product at the lowest price, but a product that also gives the exterior of their home a fresh, long-lasting look,” says one Midwest remodeler.

The survey found that 92 percent of remodelers generated at least some business over the past year from replacing siding or otherwise remodeling the exterior of a home. Eighteen percent of respondents said that exterior projects made up more than half of their work during the last 12 months.

Exterior Trends

We asked remodelers for the major trends they were seeing in exterior projects. Here is some of what we heard:

“I am hearing more about aluminum- and steel-insulated panels.”

“Better quality stucco and integrated color.”

“Cement siding to replace hardboard siding.”

“Clients want to get away from vinyl siding and return to products with less maintenance and more curb appeal.”

“With home values on the upswing, people are willing to spend more money on vinyl shake siding and PVC trim.”

“Fiber cement is certainly becoming more recognized as a good choice.”

“Stronger interest in maintenance-free and less concern about whether or not it looks like wood.”

“Customers are adding stone and brick accents.”

“Clients want natural and recycled materials with a low carbon footprint.”

“The addition of thin veneer stone products can change the exterior appearance without having to add structural elements to support a stone exterior.”

“Cement fiber is popular because there is no rot or termite damage.”

“Seeing more stone and shakes as accents to more traditional siding.”

Market continues to expand

Exterior replacement projects continues to remain positive, as 29 percent of remodelers reported doing more exterior work in the past year compared with 12 percent who reported doing less work. While 59 percent reported that their level of exterior work was unchanged, it was the fourth consecutive year that the number of remodelers reporting more work outpaced those reporting a decline.

“My clients are feeling a little more confident. We are getting more work done now than compared to the past few years,” says a Maryland-based remodeler.

When homeowners choose to replace their siding, it is usually part of a larger remodeling project. Just 5 percent of the remodelers we surveyed said their typical siding replacement project involved replacing the siding only. Thirty-two percent of remodelers said their typical siding replacement project includes replacing the existing windows. Twenty-six percent said the exterior replacement job typically includes a new door or multiple doors.

Fourteen percent of remodelers said they usually replace the roof when accepting a siding project. Twenty-three percent said their typical exterior project is usually part of a larger addition or whole house remodel.

Quality exterior at the right price

The bottom line remains critically important to clients; however, prices for exterior remodeling projects continue to rise. For the fourth year in a row, at least half the remodelers reported an increase in the price of a typical remodeling project.

“My clients want the upgrade and updated exterior with low maintenance and energy considerations in mind,” says one Southeast remodeler.

Sixty-four percent of remodelers reported a higher average for their exterior project over the last year, while only 5 percent said prices had declined. Thirty-one percent reported no change.

Nationally, 60 percent of remodelers reported an average project size of less than $15,000, and 11 percent said their average project size was less than $5,000. At the high end, 15 percent had an average price tag of more than $25,000.

“Money is tight, but clients will spend on existing home exterior upgrades instead of selling and buying another home. Clients are willing to spend more for quality over quantity,” says a Midwest remodeler.

Maintenance and curb appeal

“Replacement of a failing or damaged product” continues to be the biggest reason homeowners choose to replace their existing siding. More than half of the remodelers who responded to our survey indicated that it was a “very important” driver for projects. Like last year’s survey, replacement of failing or damaged products was the only reason cited by at least 50 percent of respondents as “very important.” Seventy-three percent cited replacement of a failing or damaged product as “somewhat important.”

“Reducing maintenance” and “improving curb appeal” remain important drivers of exterior remodeling business. Nearly 30 percent of respondents indicated the two previous topics as “very important” drivers of remodeling. “Reducing maintenance” was at least “somewhat important” for 69 percent of remodelers while “improving curb appeal” was cited as “somewhat important” by 62 percent of respondents.

“Clients have a renewed interest in upgrading their houses and making their home more inviting. They want their homes to look distinctive,” says a Midwest remodeler.

Thirty percent cited “energy efficiency” as “somewhat important,” and 28 percent cited it as “very important.”

 When a client does decide to remodel, fiber cement, vinyl, and stone are the overwhelming choice for the second year in a row. Eighty percent of remodelers reported installing fiber cement over the past year, and 63 percent said they had installed vinyl. Wood followed close behind as 61 percent of remodelers reported installing wood exterior materials in the past year.

In regard to the most commonly installed product over the past year, 30 percent of remodelers indicated fiber cement, 28 percent indicated vinyl, and 13 percent cited stucco. Wood was the fourth-highest response, nabbing 10 percent of the response.

Regardless of the material, remodelers continue to have a heavy influence on the product and brands that homeowners choose when replacing their siding. Sixty-three percent of remodelers said their average client relies on them to make all material and brand recommendations for siding. Twenty-one percent said that while their clients have a material in mind, they still recommend the brand. Fifteen percent of clients come to remodelers with a specific brand and material in mind, but remodelers still end up influencing their final decision. PR

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