Renovating a Home Exterior

From a new front door through to a replacement roof, bring pride back to your property with an external makeover, says Richard Webber
by Richard Webber
31st January 2020

First impressions can make all the difference in the world of property. Refreshing the exterior of your house makes it not only aesthetically pleasing, but can bump up its value, too, regardless of whether you’re renovating with the intention of selling or simply breathing new life into your home.

Before embarking on an exterior makeover, always check in with your local authority to ensure there are no rules or regulations preventing you from executing your plans.

“Certain alterations to residential properties can be completed without the need to apply for specific planning consent from the local authority, known as permitted development rights,” says Paul Gargan, founder of Form, the Brighton-based luxury building company.


“Provided your project falls within some very simple limits, it’s automatically permitted under this general planning approval granted by the government.”

But if your property is within a conservation area, national park or is a listed building, it’s important to liaise with the relevant body to ascertain whether external improvements are allowed.

Learn more: How to get Planning Permission in a Conservation Area

Doors & windows

Mike Morris, commercial manager of XL Joinery, which makes external and internal doors, is a firm believer that little tweaks can make a tangible difference.

“Transforming a property’s exterior unlocks a wealth of potential, not only in style and personality, but in value,” he says.

“One trick to easily transform a building and make a lasting impression is to update the front door, whether that involves focusing on a more traditional style or something contemporary.

Wooden front door

Make the best possible first impression with a new front door, such as this one from Westbury Windows & Joinery

So, from towering Victorian townhouses and mid-century semis through to modern builds, design-conscious homeowners are taking advantage of the striking first impression a bright or bold new external door can make.”

Learn more: 10 Front Door Design Tips

The condition and style of a property’s windows are also key when you’re striving to create a refreshing appearance to the outside of your property. Many aspects need to be considered when choosing windows, including the age and style of the building, whether low maintenance is essential and if you’re aiming to make a statement.

Wood, aluminium and uPVC all have their own supporters so it’s a case of weighing up the pros and cons. What’s clear is that technology is improving the overall quality of said products.

“The demand for plain white has declined rapidly over the past five years and contemporary greys and pastel colours have taken a strong foothold,” says Graham Lindsay, founder of window and door manufacturer Weru UK. “What’s more, because of the fast-evolving trend for timber-look windows, advancements in uPVC units mean they can be almost indistinguishable from real wood.”

Rendered house
This Victorian house has been wrapped in Weber’s Webertherm XP external wall insulation
Old red brick house
This has vastly improved the home’s thermal performance as well as its looks.

James Upton, of Westbury Windows and Joinery, believes timber is increasingly popular, with homeowners now more aware of wood’s ability to create kerb appeal as well as its environmental footprint. “Many estate agents believe they help a property’s saleability,” he says.

“Plus, new timbers have moved on from their predecessors and are unlikely to warp or split – two frequent concerns of property owners. Modern water-based, low-gloss, microporous paint also ensures that external joinery will remain sound and stable over the long term.”

Repair or replace?

Naturally, replacing windows can be an expensive affair so, if their condition permits, there are ways to spruce up their appearance.

“If windows are in good condition and the look needs upgrading, there are companies available who use a vinyl wrap system on uPVC doors and windows, whereas on timber, a simple repaint will create a fresh new look,” says Rebecca Lewis-Chapman, director of The IAD Company, an award-winning architectural and interior design consultancy.

Stainless steel guttering

Functioning rainwater goods are a necessity, but they can also be a decorative feature that enhances an exterior, as with this stainless steel example by Metal Gutta

“In terms of the colour finish for both, I’d avoid ‘on trend’ colours as these will date quickly. Look at a colour chart and decide which tones and colours work well with the rest of the property.”

Many of the IAD Company’s clients have bought aesthetically unappealing houses built in the sixties and seventies and turned to Rebecca and her colleagues for inspiration and help. “The use of glass and clean lines are commonly adopted, with white render and timber cladding proving popular finishes,” she says.

Simply cleaning up a property can have a huge affect on its appearance and the brickwork is no exception, as Richard Osborne – managing director at LTP, suppliers of sealing, cleaning and maintenance products for the stone and tile market – explains: “Removing stains from bricks can greatly enhance a property’s attractiveness. Cement and grout residues, efflorescence, water and dirt stains are best tackled with a specialist residue stain remover, whilst a graffiti remover works best for taking off paint.

The treatments are painted or sprayed on the surface and agitated with an emulsifying pad before being rinsed. Make sure you use non-caustic treatments, such as Ecoprotec, to avoid etching of the bricks.

Couch house

A renovated barn in Inverness-shire benefits from smart new roof slates from Burlington Slate

Once dry, you can protect the masonry going forward with a water-based treatment, like natural finish stone sealer or anti graffiti sealer, which won’t alter the appearance of the bricks.”

As an alternative to cleaning bricks, consider painting them or applying render. This may also be appropriate if after building an extension you want the new portion to blend seamlessly into the original building or want to update an existing dated finish. Insulated render can also improve thermal performance.

“Many clients with pebbledash are choosing to replace the finish with a smooth render to give their property a more contemporary look. If they’re looking for a colour, I say pick one that is classic or already a feature of the house,” says Rebecca Lewis-Chapman, who believes cladding is another great way to refresh your home.

“When choosing timber cladding, consider the way in which the material will age over time. We have been using Siberian larch on recent projects as it’s competitively priced, extremely durable and ages to a beautiful silver/grey tone.”

A new roof

It goes without saying that the roof is an integral part of any major renovation, yet it’s surprising the number of times it’s overlooked when money is being spent on improving
the exterior. However, with all roof coverings having a definite lifespan, it’s something to consider during any makeover.

“If a roof has a few years left in it, or perhaps you’re intending to sell it soon, replacing the covering is unlikely to be worthwhile from a financial perspective,” says Form’s Paul Gargan.

Learn more: Roof Repair or Replacement – Which is Best?

“But if you intend on keeping it for the foreseeable future and the roof could soon become a problem, giving serious thought to replacing it is essential because you can’t afford to neglect it.”

White rendered house

Cleaning up and painting brickwork can have a huge impact on a house’s appearance. This home has been repainted in Sandtex’s Ultra Smooth Masonry Paint Vermont Grey and Pure Brilliant White

If it transpires that the roof requires maintenance, in most cases the material is best kept as the original in terms of look, advises Rebecca. “There may be alternative methods with a similar appearance that you could consider for cost purposes,” she says. “But from an aesthetic perspective, we generally prefer to stick with the existing.”

Again, listed buildings within a conservation area may need additional consideration, so it’s best to seek advice. But where roof replacement is necessary and the owner wishes to consider alternative materials, there are several things to think about. Roofing shingles, for example, are available in various colours.

White rendered house
Windows set the character for a home.
Red brick house
This comprehensive makeover project features glazing by Weru that expresses a more contemporary look

“Often they’re in shades of green, red and slate grey,” says Jon Cooper of BC Profiles, experts in, among others fields, roofing.

Complete Renovation Part 7: Guide to Restoring Period Features

“The style of house will dictate what you should choose. If your property is of a modern design, slate grey may be the best option to keep in line with the contemporary appearance. If your home is more traditional and an older build, opt for red, a classic roof shade which fits in well with period properties. Red is also great if your home has a Mediterranean or Spanish aesthetic. But if you have a white or beige painted exterior, green will help to complement the colour of the property.”

Detached red brick and render house

A remodelled property re-roofed in Lothian concrete tiles in Slate Grey, by Russell Roof Tiles

So, don’t underestimate the importance of your house’s exterior looks. If you’re planning to renovate in order to sell on, remember first impressions are crucial. Experts believe houses can be rejected by a prospective buyer within seconds of seeing it.

If you’re doing the project for your own enjoyment, there is nothing more satisfying than feeling proud of your home every time you come home.

Main image: Weber’s Webertherm XP external wall insulation

Leave a Reply

You may be interested in

Our sponsors