1833 Datura, Sarasota
1833 Datura, Sarasota
Replacing your front door can pay for itself by increasing your home’s value, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report.
What’s more, if you choose an energy-efficient exterior door, you may qualify for a tax credit that can save you up to $500 as well as trim up to 10% off your energy bills. (With utility bills averaging $2,200 annually, that’s a savings of as much as $220.)
But how do you know which door is right for you? Make your decision by comparing the three main materials available for exterior doors: steel, fiberglass and wood.
If you’re looking to save money, a steel door may be a good choice, particularly if you have the skills to hang it yourself. A simple, unadorned steel door can sell for as little as $150 (not including hardware, lock set, paint, or labor) and typically runs as much as $400 at big-box retailers. Steel offers the strongest barrier against intruders, although its advantage over fiberglass and wood in this area is slight.
Even better, replacing your entry door with a steel model preserves home value. Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report estimates the total project cost of installing a 20-gauge steel door at $1,137. The project, on average, returns 85.6% of cost, the highest return value in the report.
Still, the attractive cost of a steel door comes with an important caveat: Its typical life span under duress is shorter than either fiberglass or wood. A steel door exposed to salt air or heavy rains may last only five to seven years, according to Bob Bossard, general manager of 84 Lumber in Clarksville, Del. Despite steel’s reputation for toughness, it actually didn’t perform well in Consumer Reports testing against wood and fiberglass for normal wear and tear.
With heavy use, it may dent, and the damage can be difficult and expensive to repair. If your door will be heavily exposed to traffic or the elements, you may be better off choosing a different material.
Fiberglass doors come in an immense variety of styles, many of which accurately mimic the look of real wood. And if limited upkeep is your ideal, fiberglass may be your best bet. “Nothing is maintenance-free,” Bossard says, “but fiberglass is pretty close. And it lasts twice as long as wood or steel.”
Fiberglass doesn’t expand or contract appreciably as the weather changes. Therefore, in a reasonably protected location, a fiberglass entry door can go for years without needing a paint or stain touch-up and can last 15 to 20 years overall. Although it feels light to the touch, fiberglass has a very stout coating that’s difficult for an intruder to breach; and its foam core offers considerable insulation.
Fiberglass generally falls between steel and wood in price; models sold at big-box stores range from about $150 to $600. Remodeling Magazine lists the cost of a fiberglass entry-door replacement project at around $2,700. Although a fiberglass door doesn’t generate as high a return as a steel door, it recoups about 66% in home value.
Wood is considered the go-to choice for high-end projects; its luxe look and substantial weight can’t be flawlessly duplicated by fiberglass or steel, though high-end fiberglass products are getting close. If your home calls for a stunning entry statement with a handcrafted touch, wood may be the best material for you.
Wood is usually the most expensive choice of the three—roughly $500 to $2,000, excluding custom jobs—and requires the most maintenance, although it’s easier to repair scratches on a wood door than dents in steel or fiberglass. Wood doors should be repainted or refinished every year or two to prevent splitting and warping. (Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report doesn’t include a wood entry-door replacement project.)
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your door as well as its energy efficiency, you can purchase a solid wood door certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which assures you that the wood was sustainably grown and harvested.
Tracing the environmental impact of a particular door—from manufacturing process to shipping distance to how much recycled/recyclable content it contains—is quite complicated and probably beyond the ken of the average homeowner, notes LEED-certified green designer Victoria Schomer. But FSC-certified wood and an Energy Star rating are an excellent start.
A final note on choosing a door based on energy efficiency: Because efficiency depends on a number of factors besides the material a door is made of—including its framework and whether it has windows—look for the Energy Star label to help you compare doors. To qualify for the federal tax credit, look for solar heat gain coefficient and U-factor values less than 0.3.
We’re constantly bombarded by lenders to refinance our mortgage under a variety of programs. The volume of offers can almost make you numb to the rational consideration.
There are common rules of thumbs that homeowners and agents use such as not refinancing more often than every two years or there must be at least 2% savings from your previous mortgage rate may not always be accurate.
The reality is that if you can refinance for a lower rate and you’ll be in the home long enough to recapture the cost of refinancing, it should be considered. The costs of previous refinancing that haven’t been recaptured by monthly savings may need to be added to the costs of the new refinance.
Take a look at the chart that shows the average rates according to Freddie Mac for 2012. They are lower today than they were in January of 2012 and for the ten years before that.
Refinancing may save you a substantial amount of money, especially if you’re going to be in your home for a long time. It is definitely worth investigating. To get a quick idea of what your savings could be, use this refinancing calculator.
If it shows better, it will probably sell faster and maybe for more money. Once your home is on the market, it’s time to look at it like a commodity and through the eyes of potential buyers. In all likelihood, you’ll need to take care of these items eventually, so do them now to help it sell sooner.
Buyers who have delayed purchasing a home due to concerns about what might happen to the tax laws affecting home ownership should feel comfortable about getting back in the market. The recent legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President continues to value homes as a favored investment.
For a summary of specific real estate provisions in the “Fiscal Cliff” bill, click here.
Whether the delayed purchase is for a home to live in as your principal residence or to use as rental property, taking action sooner is better than later.
Reasons to buy now:
Contact me about any specific questions you have or information you need.