As a homeowner, you should be staying on top of regular maintenance and repairs—especially when it comes to the exterior of your home, which creates that all-important first impression. But there inevitably comes a time when repairs have done all they can, and you’re forced to accept the bitter—and expensive—truth: It’s time to outright replace things like windows, the mailbox, or even the roof.
Such large-scale upgrades could really bust your maintenance budget. But knowing when you might need to lay out this kind of cash can help you plan for it.
To help you get your facts straight, we rounded up the most common exterior features and asked experts to weigh in on when they’re likely to deteriorate to the point of needing to be replaced.
Without properly functioning gutters, water runoff can pool around your home, seep into the home’s foundation, and cause water damage. So proper maintenance is in order.
“Unusual weather patterns such as heavy rain, abnormally cold temperatures, and excessive heat can cause damage to your home,” says says Jeff Beck, CEO of Leaf Home, a professional home services company. “If gutters are not maintained and water overflows from the gutters, it can result in basement flooding, mold and mildew growth, and even foundational issues.”
He recommends gutters be cleaned at least twice a year to prevent damage to the roof and home, or to invest in gutter protection to alleviate clogged gutters.
According to the experts, galvanized steel and aluminum gutters, which are the most typical kind of gutters, have an average life span of 20 years. Higher-end copper gutters can last up to 50 years.
The average life span of a residential window is about 20 years, but it may be time for a new window if you notice broken or cracked glass or a destroyed frame.
“More subtle signs include dramatic cost shifts in your energy use, drafts, peeling, or missing paint (which can be a sign of condensation, rot, or possibly mold), busted hinges, or anything else that impairs the window’s ability to function properly,” says Beck.
A garage door should not only look nice on the outside but also work properly to keep your car, stored items, and home secure.
“Your garage door is opened and closed multiple times a day, subjecting it to wear and tear over time,” says Michelle Nichols, an expert in garage doors and openers at The Home Depot.
Nichols recommends doing maintenance checks twice a year and to note any damage to springs, cables, rollers, and pulleys. Make sure the door is lubricated regularly and debris is cleared.
With regular maintenance, the average life span of a garage door is about 30 years.
The driveway can take a beating, especially in colder climates.
“Reseal your concrete every two to five years to keep your concrete in good shape and to prevent cracks,” says Courtney Harmon, president of The Driveway Co. Cracks in concrete should be repaired after they reach a quarter-inch.
Expect your concrete driveway to last about 30 years, according to Harold & Son Inc., which specializes in concrete and landscape supplies.
Life without mail would be a challenge, so it’s important your mail receptacle works so the postal service can drop letters and small parcels in your box.
“Replacing your mailbox depends on how well-constructed it is and how often it’s used,” says Chris Lambton, media personality and lifestyle expert. “If it was built with a pressure-treated post or a granite post, you won’t have to replace it as often, if ever.”
He says the mailbox itself can get rusty or unsightly, though. If that happens, it will need to be replaced.
Replacing a roof is one of those inevitable costs that keep many homeowners up at night—it’s just so dang expensive! The average cost to replace a roof is about $8,000, but can range from $5,500 to $11,000.
“Your roof is a big expense, so you want to make sure you do what you can to extend its life,” says Lambton. “That means keeping it clear of low, overhanging branches that can lead to damage or mold.”
The life span of your roof largely depends on what it’s made of. Standard asphalt shingles should last 15 to 30 years, while a more durable metal roof can last 50 to 75 years.
A beautiful green lawn can be your pride and joy, and the envy of your neighbors, so let’s keep it that way. If properly maintained, your lawn can last for years without needing to be replaced. But if you notice brown patches, Matt Blashaw, TV host and licensed contractor, recommends cutting out the brown patches of grass in early spring or late fall. He says you can either replace it with turf grass or use a seed mixture to regrow the grass.
“I recommend putting down a lawn soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, then a layer of seed, then another layer of soil. This will keep the seeds in place and protect them from birds,” says Blashaw.