I really need advice on replacing siding on my home. I'm a single mother, and money and maintenance is a huge concern. The Masonite siding on my home is beginning to rot. I've looked into clapboard, but the expense is mind blowing. Also, I'll need to paint it once it is installed, which would need to happen in phases due to the high cost involved. All this has made me think of vinyl siding. I hear that it is becoming more appealing to many homeowners. If I select vinyl siding, am I sacrificing resale value for cost and low-maintenance?
Four months ago, we put vinyl siding on our house. The cost was somewhat on the high end, but we chose the expensive siding because I liked a specific color that I couldn't get in any other vinyl siding. Since we put it up, people have been stopping by and asking where we got it and how much it cost. It has increased the value of our house considerably. Our neighbors have told us that we now have the best looking house on the block. We had our doubts before we did it, but by what we have been told by our neighbors and total strangers, we now know that we made the best decision we could have made.
We plan to put our house up for sale in the next year or so and I believe we have increased the value of our house considerably. And the best part of all is no more painting!
I truly believe that you would be making a very good decision by putting up the siding on your house regardless of the cost. In the long run, you will be saving money. Not only will you never have to paint your house again, but also your heating and air conditioning bills will go down. Even if you have to pay more than I did, I have no doubt that you will not be sorry that you did it.
Consider concrete siding. It looks like wood and can be painted, stained, etc. and it lasts for years and lowers energy bills. In the southern states, I believe it is called Taylormade (not sure of spelling).
I have friends in Atlanta that bought it several years ago and had it installed by a licensed installer and it cut their bills about 20%. It has been several years and it still looks good. And it lowered their fire insurance rate, too.
The question regarding Masonite siding drew my attention. What the home owner may not know is that Masonite has a class action law suit going currently if your product was installed or purchased between certain dates. They send out an adjuster and offer a settlement. I am currently involved in this suit. For more information, go to masoniteclaims.com.
If you live in an older home (100+ years) or live in a historic neighborhood, you need to check the zoning regulations before you look into buying anything. Many cities that have historic residential areas also have rules regarding what you can do with the home in terms of improvements, including whether or not you can have vinyl siding. Then there's the Register of Historic Places, which may have jurisdiction over your home based on its age and history, regardless of whether it's in a historic neighborhood or not.
There is a court case currently in Tennessee in which an 81-year-old woman is being charged with violation of the zoning laws by putting vinyl siding on her home that is in a historic neighborhood. She faces fines and a maximum of 30 days in jail (according to the news report), so make sure you're allowed vinyl siding before shopping around for it!
Keri in TN
As a Realtor, I can tell you that vinyl siding is a good thing. It comes in a variety of colors and requires basically no upkeep, other than an occasional cleaning.
It can be expensive to install, but if you know of someone handy that has experience with siding, it can be a very good thing. On my previous home (2300 sq. ft.), I had it sided by my father-in-law. It took him two weeks, but the savings were unreal. A national company wanted $15,000. He did it for $1500.
Check your community for organizations that help folks like you. Many churches will help people in need with repairs and upkeep.
We installed steel vertical siding, which looks identical to bat and board until you are literally touching it. It was more expensive than vinyl, but it looks so much better. The neighbors beside us installed vinyl a year before our siding and theirs is already starting to fade and warp. Because we didn't want to take out a loan, we did it in stages and left the front alone as it has stucco. We did the sides of the house one fall, and then the next fall, we did the soffits and gutters. We've already recouped some of our money in energy savings especially gas.
I have spent several years both selling and installing vinyl siding. I have installed vinyl siding on two of my own houses and have found it to be the most cost effective, no maintenance siding out there. A few pointers would be in order here.
Selecting a contractor is a scary proposition at best. Places like Sears advertise on the strength of their name, but the customer pays a hefty premium. There might be some peace of mind using Sears for the installation, but they will be using a local or regional sub-contractor who has given them a low bid to get their work. They can troubleshoot a problem job for you, but if you choose a good local contractor, you will probably not have serious problems to begin with.
Avoid any companies advertising with cheesy, glossy ads in the mail. They should probably be avoided. Particularly if the small print identifies the company as being from out of state. There are one or two companies in my neck of the woods (southern Virginia) that operate in our area but are out-of-state outfits that advertise in one area for a while and then move on to another place. After a while, they will return and run more ads, do some more work and then continue the cycle.
It's not that they do poor work. Most of what I have seen is reasonably good, but they are expensive. The salesman who comes to your house is probably earning commission. These companies have travel expenses and the advertising they do costs a small fortune and you are paying for it.
My suggestion is to watch your area for siding jobs being done. When you spot one, simply observe. How long did it take the contractor to do the job? Did they clean up at night? Does the finished job look good from the street? What shape was the contractor's equipment and truck(s) in?
When it's done, knock on the door, introduce yourself to the homeowner, compliment them on the house's appearance, and ask them about the experience. If it looks bad, simply note the contractor's name and move on. Just about anybody will respond very favorably to a friendly approach. Most people will even discuss the price they paid.
Finally, check out the contractor. Get multiple references going back at least six months. Call those customers, and if they don't mind, go look at those houses.
Ask them what brands of siding they use and contact the local distributor (yellow pages) to find out if they are familiar with that contractor. The local distributors can also give you the names of siding contractors who are certified by the different siding manufacturers. These guys have generally been in business for a longer period of time.
There are a lot of different siding manufacturers out there. Some make a great product and some make a poor product. I won't even touch on who is good and who is not. Besides, I haven't used them all.
Take the time to go to one or two of the distributors and look at what they have. Most will be more than happy to take a few minutes and give you a crash course on vinyl siding.
And then there is the Internet. Google will give you a ton of hits on vinyl siding, but four of my old favorites are listed in the top ten. Check the manufacturers' websites. This Old House.com has siding information as does DIY Net.
Stick with a high quality siding. Lumber yard stuff (known as builder grade) can be pretty lousy. I've had bad fading problems with some in the past. Unless things have changed since I got out of the business, fading was generally not covered under even the best warranties. The distributors will generally have the better sidings.
Shop the prices, but for goodness sakes, don't take the lowest bid and expect perfection. In my area, good quality siding installed by a reputable local contractor with a good history runs about $2 a square foot. That will often include a thin insulation backer (fan fold insulation) that will help control drafts through your walls. In your area, the cost will probably vary somewhat.
As far as resale is concerned, that will depend greatly on your neighborhood. If everybody else on your street has cedar siding, you might lose some value, but since you already have Masonite that is in bad shape, this will probably stand to improve your value.
Have no fear! Good quality vinyl siding installed by someone who knows what they're doing looks great and is so much easier to take care of. If you can afford it, I would seriously consider having the soffits and upper trim covered at the same time, but this can be done later. However, it would cheaper to have it done at the same time.
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