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Guide to replacing home siding F ew home improvements can transform a home more than the installation of new siding. Replacing siding can be a costly venture, but the right siding will maintain its appeal for years to come. Updated siding can improve home’s energy value by enabling owners to save on heating and cooling costs. A new design and color also can improve a home’s property value and set it apart from neighboring properties. According to the Professional Builder’s Home Exteriors Survey, exterior design and materials used are a top priority for new home buyers. Project costs depend on the size of the home as well as which siding material homeowners choose. Considering new siding is a major renovation, it pays to get the job done right. Choose a qualified contractor It is important for consumers to do their research when it comes to siding materials and contractors. A contractor who takes shortcuts or improperly installs the siding may void a manufacturer’s warranty. Always ask family members and friends for recommendations before choosing a contractor, and check out each prospective contractor’s work for yourself. Interview more than one contractor and compare both their costs and what they offer. Ask plenty of questions of the contractors, and avoid those who try hard-sell methods. Questionable contractors may try strategies like a promise of a considerable discount if you “act now” or scare tactics that your home is unsafe in its present condition. Be sure the contractor carries general liability insurance as well as workers’ compensation insurance for their subcontractors. Ask for a license number as well and verify its accuracy. Select a durable material Siding comes in all types of materials — from wood to plastic to fiber cement — but vinyl is among the most popular due to cost and availability. Research how well particular brands of siding stand up to conditions and which are the least likely to crack, warp or discolor. Find this information from online reviews or through consumer advocacy groups. Also remember, vinyl and other synthetic materials have improved and can now mimic the look of Finding a qualified contractor is an important component to any siding project. many other materials for a fraction of the cost. Calculate how much you need Before you price out siding with contractors, estimate how much you will need for your house. Consumer Reports suggests multiplying the height times the width of each rectangular section of your house in feet, going by what you can measure from the ground, to determine their areas. Multiply the approximate height and width of gables and other triangular surfaces and divide each total by two. Then add all the totals. To allow for waste, don’t subtract for doors, windows or other areas that won’t be covered. Finally, divide the total square footage by 100 to estimate how many squares of siding you will need. A square represents 100 square feet. Knowing how much you need can save you money. Vinyl siding can completely transform the look of a home and make it more energy efficient. Consumers who do their homework will get the best value for their investments.