Improve Curb Appeal Without Breaking Budget

An industry expert’s guide to prioritizing exterior projects

BY JAY ANDREAS

As a home builder, you know firsthand that a happy, satisfied customer could have a huge impact on your bottom line. Sure, they write you a check, but what they spread to friends and family in the form of recommendations is priceless, and you have a lot of control over that process.

How? Talk to them, understand their budget and then guide them to the best products within their budget. Offer upsell options that you believe are worthy of consideration, and then respect their decision. If there are a few items to consider, put them into a priority list and explain why you suggest each one.

No one likes to have someone constantly saying, “I know this is your budget, but you really need this, and this, and this…” When your customer knows you are in their corner, and are looking out for them, you’ll reap the recommendation rewards.

As you go through the details with your customers be sure to help them understand what exterior components affect curb appeal, which is directly tied to a home’s value both now and later on, when they might be considering selling. Planning upfront can help avoid the spending-to- sell remodeling cycle, something that will have them appreciating your advice all over again.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you guide your customer toward the right choices.

Take Inventory

Look closely at all the different components, roof, siding, brick, gutters, downspouts, porch, deck, stairs, landscaping and mailbox. Which of those items are likely to need some love down the road? For example, would an extra bit of cash for upgraded shingles pay off in a big way later on? Or, would that not be a wise expenditure?

Are there products that extend the life cycle of exterior paint, siding, gutters, deck, or downspouts? Could they have a reasonable upcharge and have a great impact on cost-savings for the homeowner years later and additional enjoyment now? If so, you should make them aware of it and be prepared to offer specific examples.

Social selling is probably the greatest tool in your arsenal when it comes to helping both your customer and your bottom line. Having testimonials for not only your business, but also the products you recommend, will go a long way. Consider putting them together for your customer, much as you would a proposal.

When turning over the keys, ask for a written recommendation and reviews on social media.

Painting, Matching Front Door with Garage Doors are Top Priorities

The biggest impact, and what goes the longest way toward curb appeal, is the paint job. What’s hot right now is nautical blue with white trim, gray, and the farmhouse style with white siding, white paint, black gutters and downspouts, and a black roof. Even windows are being clad in black for the farmhouse style.

Colors that are less popular right now include red and yellow, while neutrals remain a classic choice. If a home has stone or brick on it, that can determine what color paint is chosen. For instance, gray brick or stone usually has gray grout, and that works well with either the nautical blue or the white that is so popular. Tan or beige brick or stone lend themselves to neutral beige or taupe tones.

Another cost-effective option to enhance curb appeal is matching the style and color of garage doors and the entry door to your home, particularly if both face the street. If the garage doors are on the side of the house, it allows for more flexibility.

Landscaping Has a Huge Impact

When looking at a home, landscaping makes a huge impact, and should be on your list of components to talk about with your customer. Ask them to imagine driving up to a home where it’s barren, and all you can focus on are the footings. Compare that to a similar home where the landscaping is neatly trimmed, there are no weeds, pots with annuals are on the steps, and everything compliments the color and style of the house.

When looking at a landscaping budget, consider paver bricks to edge flowerbeds, putting down weed mats, and covering them with stone instead of mulch, in addition to the plants themselves. Landscaping adds a great deal of value to a home, well above the actual cost. In fact, most surveys say landscaping increases a home’s value by 15%.

Jay Andreas is CEO of A.S.I. Construction in Burr Ridge, Illinois, a general contractor and exterior remodeling service provider for residential and commercial projects.

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