Tips for exterior makeovers

The latter decades of the 20th century weren’t our finest in terms of architecture, and some houses from the 1950s onwards just aren’t that attractive.

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos
PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

If your home is among those aesthetics forgot, an architect or builder will be able to help you transform the exterior. Detached houses are the best candidates for an extreme makeover, because there isn’t an adjoining reminder of the old look, but properties of all shapes and sizes can benefit from an exterior redesign.

While you can rarely be as adventurous with the colours you use on the outside of your home as on the inside, you don’t need to stick to white, cream or magnolia - there are some lovely shades of masonry paint. However, you do need to consider what will go with the surrounding buildings, if there are any planning restrictions (see below) and what suits the style and period of the building.

If a lick of paint isn’t going to do much, don’t despair. Rendering an unattractive exterior can work wonders, as can getting rid of ugly render - pebbledash, for example, isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it can be removed. If you do this, the brickwork underneath will almost certainly suffer, so covering it with (more contemporary) smooth render is usually your best bet. You can even insulate the exterior at the same time and render over the insulation panels. Cladding - with wood or wood-effect panelling - some of the exterior walls can look fantastic too, as long as it suits the building.

Adding dormer windows and replacing unattractive concrete roof tiles with slate ones can also go a long way to giving your home character and kerb appeal. Another way to enliven a boring, featureless facade is to add an attractive porch. And don’t forget the windows and doors. Changing the style of these can make a big difference to the look of your home and may make it warmer (with improved glazing) and more secure (with better locks) as well.

Before you start making changes, find out whether planning permission is required. The area where you live, as well as the type of building - listed buildings can’t usually be altered without consent from the local council - can affect your plans. If you live on ‘designated land’, which includes conservation areas, you may not be able to do what you want with your home’s exterior - wooden windows are usually preferred by the local council, for example. In some cases, permitted development rights have been removed from houses (flats don’t have permitted development rights), which means that everything from fitting new windows to painting the front door may require planning permission.