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They say you only have one chance to make a first impression. That’s why a nice looking home exterior can increase your home’s curb appeal. Any real estate agent will tell you it’s one of the most important factors in determining the value of a home. Simply put, exterior renovations offer the best bang for your buck in improving your house value, whether you plan to sell now or sometime in the future.

A good rule of thumb to remember with any renovation—exterior or interior—is never replace what you can restore. Most of these ideas are easily done on your own, but know your limits. Don’t be afraid to call in an expert when needed. Here’s how to get started:

1. Re-paint

Adding a new coat of paint can work wonders to freshen up the outside of a house. If it’s your aluminum siding in need of a facelift, use a low-luster, acrylic exterior paint . It will hide surface irregularities better. If there are any small dents or tears, be sure to fix them before painting.

Keep in mind that older houses may be in danger of having lead paint used in its original construction. Lead paint has been banned as an environmental hazard. Removing lead paint can be costly and dangerous. It should only be done by trained professionals.
There are government-approved measures to seal lead paint and allow you to paint over it, but again, leave this to professionals. Consult your local hardware store or contractor for more information on how to deal with lead paint.

2. Remove dirt

A power washer can remove years of dirt and grime from exterior siding, garage doors, paved paths and driveways. Your local hardware store should rent power washers.

Don’t forget to wash the outside of windows as well to have you whole house sparkling.

3. Tend to landscaping

Upgrades to the exterior landscaping not only increase your curb appeal, but it’s money you can make back.

Tall plants and shrubs are great for hiding water meters, air conditioners and even neighbouring houses.
Prune overgrown trees for the most polished look.
Tend to flowerbeds by topping them up with soil and adding flowers for a dash of inviting colour.

4. Build a deck or patio

If space and budget allow, add a deck or patio. For long-term gain, if you can afford to build new, invest in something that extends the active living space of your home.

These days it’s common to see decks complete with living rooms, outdoor kitchens, hot tubs and fireplaces.
Use as much space as you can—the more functional, the more value you will get out of it.
Keep in mind, a wood deck may not work on older houses. A stone or brick patio might be a better option.

If a new build simply isn’t affordable, you can also renovate the deck or patio with fresh wood stain or a thorough cleaning. Replace any rotten wood or cracked stones.
5. Accessorize

Don’t overlook the power of accessories to brighten up the outside of your home. A new address plaque, mailbox or garden accent can bring charm and personality to a house. A new exterior light can modernize an old home and help visitors see your house in the dark.

These simple home exterior renovations can breathe new life into your house, which should make living in it that much more enjoyable. Plus, it can also increase the value of your home.

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