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Beautiful On The Outside (As Well As The Inside)

Apr 28, 2008
Much is written about interiors - doing up kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms to increase the value of your home. But what can a good builder do to improve the appearance of the outside? The front of your house is the first thing visitors see so it makes sense to give a good impression from the start.

First and foremost deal with any structural and surface problems. If you have any concerns about damp, settlement cracks, brickwork or old render get your builder to fix these first. Similarly any rotten timber or loose tiles need to be sorted out. You should also ask your builder to check your guttering and down pipes - ask him to make sure they are sound and free of rubbish. And if you have climbing plants up the walls of your house, or a large tree overhanging, again check whether they are causing any damage.

Next, find out whether your house is Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, art deco or contemporary. Then get a good grasp of the style of that era and what the exterior would have looked like originally.

Authenticity is all about detail. It could be that a new front door or glass panels in the door are enough to improve your frontage. During the second world war many iron railings in London were claimed for melting down as part of the war effort and replaced with brick walls. So if your front wall is in a sorry state, consider replacing it with what would have been there originally.

Unfortunately fashion can soon look outdated. Period homes without doubt look best with white window frames and doorframes. So if your home was given a "facelift" some years ago with coloured window frames then a good sanding down and white paint may be all that's needed to smarten things up again. A good builder or decorator can sort this out for you.

You may want to repair some original features. Plasterwork ornaments or timber cladding may need replacing. Look at similar houses in the area for clues as to how things should be. Similarly stained glass front door panels may need renovation. You could also consider protecting these by putting toughened glass in front of them.

Having dealt with any problems, decide what your priorities for the front of your home are. Do you want to hide your bins or the family's bikes? Do you want off-street parking or do you need extra lighting? Would an enclosed porch be useful? Are your front and side fences looking worse for wear?

If you've got big plans for the front of your house that go beyond a general clean up its best to start by contacting your local authority to check for restrictions. For instance if you're planning to build a garage this may affect your neighbour's right to light. There's nothing worse than having to undo work and start again, so check the planning rules first.

You may want to add timber cladding to an otherwise featureless house. It can give a clean, modern look to an otherwise dull exterior. If you've always dreamed of having a balcony then watch out - this is something you will need to get approval for from your local authority. You must also get a structural engineer to help design it and make sure your house can support it.

An open or closed porch can be useful and a garage or off street parking can be a real bonus if parking is a problem on your street. You will have to get in touch with the local authority, as you will be crossing a public footpath to drive onto your property so the kerb in front of your house will need to be dropped (the local authority will do this themselves and will charge you for it).

Improving the frontage of your house can be a simple day's job for a builder or it can be a detailed project. Whatever you decide to do a smart front will lift the value of your home and create a more welcoming environment for you and your visitors.
About the Author
Expert builder India Cooper reveals what a builder can do to improve the external apprearance of your home. To find out more please visit http://www.ratedpeople.com/find/builder
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