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Use Your Tax Refund for Home Improvements

Use your tax refund to do home improvements that you will love for years to come. Our top recommendation? Replace that old clapboard siding on your Co...


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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

home improvement winterHave something to show for your tax refund this year: Spruce up the outside of your home.

It’s tax season and if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets a refund this year give yourself a gift that pays you back every time you arrive home. Freshening up the exterior of your home will not only give the neighborhood a lift, it will lift your spirits every time you pull into the drive. Here is a list of tried and true ways to increase your home’s curb appeal no matter what your budget. I’ve started with siding and windows because that’s what I do, but hang on because I’ve also listed some great ideas that can make a big difference with a few dollars and some elbow grease.

1. Replace that old clapboard siding

Colorado Springs has its share of old and historic neighborhoods that add charm and character to the city. Regular maintenance will help your home stand the test of time and stave off the effects of nature, but eventually clapboard siding deteriorates after years of exposure to the elements. Depending on your budget, clapboard siding can be replaced with a durable vinyl siding or with a quality fiber cement siding such as Hardie Board.

James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding, sometimes called “hardy board,” is the industry standard for cement siding and is the one all others imitate. Hardie cement fiber siding is made to look like wood planks or wood shingles so that you can update your home while keeping the appearance in line with the historical or traditional flavor of your neighborhood. Besides being a home improvement that can yield as much as a 90% return on your investment fiber has a number of other benefits:

  • Low maintenance — Unlike clapboard, which can need repainting every 3 to 5 years, cement fiber siding only needs repainting every 15 to 25 years. Hardie products come in a variety of colors, or if you prefer to add your own color you have the option of pre-primed siding that lets you express your personality.
  • Fire resistant — If you live in or near Colorado Springs, fiber cement siding may be a part of the fire mitigation plan you have for your home. Forest fires need fuel to keep burning. Wooden clapboard siding, especially if it’s rotting or has peeling paint, might become that fuel in the event of a fire. Cement siding is so fire resistant that many insurance companies offer a discount to homeowners for updating their exterior with James Hardie siding. Be sure to ask your insurer how much you can save.
  • Pest resistant —Termites won’t find a home in rot and mildew resistant cement fiber siding. Nothing is more disappointing to a home-seller or a buyer than finding termite damage. The cost to exterminate and repair damaged wood can run into the thousands of dollars and can hold the process of selling your home, not to mention cutting a big slice out of the equity you’ve built over time. Vinyl or fiber cement siding is unappealing to termites since they eat wood.

2. Replace old windows

Quality vinyl replacement windows give a house a new outlook on life, from inside the house or out. Although it is something you might not pay much attention to, replacing old windows and rotting or peeling window frames with new vinyl replacement windows can freshen up a house and give it extra curb appeal.

You won’t believe how much better Pike’s Peak looks through easy-to-clean-more-often drop down windows that can be cleaned from the inside of the house.

Plus, new windows make your home a good reflection on you. If a whole new set of windows is not in your budget, consider replacing at least four windows to keep labor costs at a minimum. Another great idea is to bump out a new bay window to add charm to the house both inside and out.

Vinyl replacement windows, like fiber cement siding, consistently ranks as one of the highest return-on-investment upgrades you can make to your home.

3. Paint the front door

Add a pop of color that welcomes you home by painting your front door. Be the first in your neighborhood to go with Sherwin William’s new color for 2015, “nifty turquoise,” or research the colors originally used on houses in your historical neighborhood to find a color that stands out and breathes new life into a tired entry.

One thing about paint, it’s relatively cheap. If you’re not in love with the color you’ve chosen on the first attempt, try another color. After all, few home improvement projects are as forgiving as a small paint job.

4. Add a pair of brightly colored chairs to your porch

Nothing looks more inviting on a sunny spring day than a couple of rocking chairs on a shady porch. If you’ve painted your door as suggested above, use the same color or choose a contrasting color to give some old flea-market chairs an inviting pop of color.

You can also spread the color around by using the leftover paint as an accent color on a flowerpot or bird feeder. Just don’t get too carried away; a pop of color is fresh, a color-coordinated yard is anything but.

5. Build a stone, brick or wooden pathway to your entry

Look at websites like Pinterest and Houzz for ideas and then find go to or YouTube and search for instructions on how to make your path design ideas into reality.

If you’re not up to the bending, stooping and lifting that building a new pathway requires, recruit family or friends for a backyard barbeque with ice cold beverages for refreshment. It could work, but remember it will be your pickup truck that gets put into service the next time a friend moves.

6. Add landscape lighting and new light fixtures for a classy upgrade

Think of lighting as an accessory like a great hat or a pretty scarf, new light fixtures give a house that pulled-together look that makes it stand out from the crowd. New lighting adds beauty while it enhances the safety and security of your home.

You can take advantage of the sunny Colorado days by installing solar lights around walkways and the drive to help guests navigate your entry. Replace old electrical fixtures with modern new ones that you love or historically correct replicas if that fits your neighborhood. Again, surf the web for great ideas. You might find some interesting lighting options that you never knew you simply had to have.

7. Add new house numbers

An easy do-it-yourself project is to add new house numbers to the front of your house. The possibilities are endless. If you are crafty, use wood or other native materials to fashion your own number sign, or visit Manitou to find beautiful handmade house numbers that will look like nobody else’s.

Of course there is always the hardware store for tried and true and new designs. Besides adding a fresh look to the exterior of your house, you may someday be thankful that fire and emergency crews can find your house in the event of an emergency.



Read 2897 times Last modified on Friday, 19 June 2015