Exclusive Research: For Exteriors, Buyers Seek Curb Appeal, Low Maintenance

Brick, stone and vinyl sidings help to create a first impression

By Mike Beirne, Senior Editor | August 12, 2015
Buyers Seek Curb Appeal, Low Maintenance for Exterior Material and Design
Buyers Seek Curb Appeal, Low Maintenance for Exterior Material and Design

Homebuyers are increasingly cognizant of the importance of curb appeal and consequently are demanding exteriors with varied materials and treatments. Builders and architect/designers who completed Professional Builder’s Exterior Design survey noted that their clients are asking for more brick and stone. However, a shortage of skilled masons could explain why more builders are spec’ing stone veneer and brick veneer for their projects.

Methodology & Respondent Information 

This survey was distributed between May 20 and June 11, 2015, to a random sample of Professional Builder’s print and digital readers. No incentive was offered. By closing date, a total of 187 eligible readers returned completed surveys. Respondent breakdown by discipline: 29.4 percent custom home builder; 20.3 percent diversified builder/remodeler; 16.6 percent production builder for move-up/move-down buyers; 14.4 percent architect/designer engaged in home building; 4.3 percent luxury production builder; 4.3 percent production builder for first-time buyers; 3.7 percent manufactured, modular, log home, or systems builder; 2.7 percent multifamily; and 4.3 percent other. Approximately 53.4 percent of respondents sold one to five homes in 2014, and 18 percent sold more than 50 homes.

A considerable number of builders also stated in their comments that they’re spending more money on what goes underneath the cladding.

“We invested more dollars in housewrap, rain screening, insulation, window upgrades. All premium products and installation methods to make sure no water penetrates the building,” wrote a New Jersey home builder and remodeler.

Plants and grass also are factoring into delivering more curb appeal as builders put more focus on landscaping and outdoor living amenities. More findings from the 2015 survey are presented in the charts that follow.

Explain why and in which areas you’ve invested more or less

  • Exterior trim details, windows, more protective underlayment, drainage behind cladding. (Connecticut production home builder)
  • More stone and stucco and less brick. More tile roofs and less asphalt. (Texas custom home builder)
  • Costs have increased for most materials. Insurance costs are up. Roofing installation costs are up as well, thanks to OSHA rules and decreased productivity. A lot of clients are trying to save money by being their own general contractors, which, without specialized knowledge, is costing them more. (Michigan builder/remodeler)
  • Customers seem to want better quality materials for both interior and exterior of houses. There has been an increase for all brick veneer or stone veneer where before it was all vinyl. If vinyl is being used, there seems to be some brick veneer or stone veneer. (Ohio custom home builder)
  • We install more stucco and less brick. (Texas custom home builder)
  • Designing a variety of house styles that have authentic appeal: farmhouse, Arts and Crafts, Tudor cottage, etc. (Pennsylvania production home builder)
  • Spending more as a result of developing all new homes on VisionRez (BIM software) to provide a more detailed look at what we are building. (Texas luxury production home builder)
  • Using more fiber-cement product and real stone (thin-cut veneer). (Pennsylvania luxury production home builder)
  • Customers want more energy-efficient materials, which are more expensive. (Rhode Island, builder/remodeler)
  • Screens or double skins; highly energy-efficient windows; more insulation in exterior walls; overhangs or shade screens. (California architect/designer)
  • Better curb appeal, mainly hardscapes and integrated landscape planning. (Georgia builder/remodeler)
  • We’re investing much more in windows and doors. Also, most clients want more involved patios with a place to entertain out of doors. (Pennsylvania production home builder)




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