Depending on your home’s design, the most visible material will be either the walls or the roof; changing either will make a big difference. Adding cladding over the top can change the walls surprisingly easily. This can also be the perfect opportunity to add a new layer of external insulation to improve your home’s energy-efficiency.
With any cladding system, thought needs to be given to details such as window and door surrounds, and window sills may need to be extended. Recladding work can be done on a DIY basis, or left to the professionals.
If your home has mismatching external materials, unattractive brickwork or broken render, covering all the external walls with a new coat of render will tie the whole building together.
Any new system will need to be applied over a firm substrate, so any loose or damaged materials should be removed first. And if your home is of traditional, solid-wall construction (most houses built before 1914), it is vital that any new cladding system still allows the walls to breathe — or you could introduce damp problems.
Render can be painted or left its natural colour; many modern systems are self-coloured and therefore very low-maintenance. If you are going for a contemporary look with crisp clear lines, choose a modern, breathable polymer system, applied over a layer of insulation board mechanically fixed to the existing walls.
Cost: Applying render will cost £70-80 per m² for sand and cement, or £85–100 per m² for a polymer render.
A simple but highly effective way to give walls a new look is to apply horizontal or vertical boards, such as weatherboarding or shiplap. This is a traditional, regional style in East Anglia, Kent and Sussex, and can create a New England Colonial look.
While treated softwood siding can be painted or stained, hardier timber such as oak, western red cedar and sweet chestnut can be left untreated to weather naturally.There are several self-coloured, man-made products available, too, that look very like timber, but which will never need painting.
Cost: Timber cladding will cost from £90 per m² for painted softwood up to £120 per m² for oak or manmade boards. Vertical hanging tiles applied over existing walls is another option. Often used on the first floor with render on the ground floor, they will cost from £100–120 per m².
Done well, stone cladding can look great, but poorly coloured reconstituted-stone cladding is now very much out of fashion. This can be removed using a bolster and chisel, but the original walls are likely to be badly damaged and there may be other hidden problems, such as cracks or mismatching alterations. It’s therefore usually easier and cheaper to re-clad the walls with a modern alternative, or simply to paint over in a neutral shade.
Update the garage
An integral garage or carport is unlikely to work with a traditional design scheme, so consider a conversion to absorb the space into the house. This will not usually require planning permission, including replacing the garage door with a wall and a window.
Cost: Costs range from £850–1,150 per m². Or if your garage is still required, repaint or replace unattractive doors with something more appropriate, to complement your overall design scheme.