13. Choose synthetics for their staying power
Though many TOH projects feature natural materials like wood and plaster, building with them today isn't always the best option for your home. On the exterior, synthetics such as cement siding (used in the 1999 Billerica house), polyurethane architectural moldings and brackets, fiberglass columns, and PVC trim boards hold paint well and don't rot, extending their life and costing you less to maintain. Inside, polyurethane crown moldings and ceiling medallions are virtually indistinguishable from their wood and plaster counterparts—and they're lighter and cost less.
"We've used cement siding on several jobs—it looks good, holds paint well, and is cheaper than wood. My house will be next."
—Tom Silva, TOH General Contractor