house with curb appeal and shipshape siding
Photo: Linda Oyama Bryan
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6. Consider Long-Term Costs, Not Just Short-Term Gains

If your addition calls for clapboard siding, for instance, you can save more in the long run by ponying up now for the preprimed and prepainted variety. It costs an extra 10 to 20 cents per foot, but "you'll wind up paying for half as many paint jobs down the road," says Paul Eldrenkamp, owner of Byggmeister, a design-build remodeling firm in Newton, Massachusetts. The reason? Factory finishes are applied on dry wood under controlled conditions—no rain, no harsh sun. "I used prefinished claps on my house about ten years ago and the only flaw in the finish is the occasional mildew spot, easily washed off," Eldrenkamp says. "The paint looks as if it'll be good for another ten years, easily."

Cost of unfinished siding for a 10-by-40-foot addition, plus two paint jobs: $5,000

Cost for prefinished claps and one coat of paint at installation: $3,750

SAVED: $1,250
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