Build curb appeal: Use pavers to help make the sale
Look outside – do you see snow and ice and the dreariness that is winter?
Keep in mind that spring isn’t far away and with it, the annual awakening. It’ll get warmer, baseball practice will start and the sound of lawnmowers will again drift through open windows.
More to the point, the “House for Sale” signs will sprout like dandelions. And across the country, minivans, SUVs and tiny hybrids alike will start the great migration every Sunday afternoon, their occupants spilling forth to walk through real estate open houses.
If you are selling your house, there are a number of things you can do to improve its curb appeal. Conventional wisdom suggests that a contrasting front door means a real “wow factor” during the day, while at night, dramatic lighting can be used to play up the front of the house.
One way that you can set the property apart is to go more permanent than a coat of paint and setting out a few exterior lights. Choose instead to install a walkway–or walkways–out front, made of genuine clay pavers.
Laura Schwind, a registered landscape architect on the staff of Pine Hall Brick Company, America’s largest manufacturer of clay pavers, points out that today’s clay pavers come in a wide variety of colors beyond the classic reds. That means they can be incorporated easily into the exterior design of the home.
“You can look at the trim color or at the roof color,” says Schwind. “Sometimes, people will go lighter to simulate concrete. Sometimes, they will match it to the roof, if they have a roof that lends itself to that. Sometimes, they will go with the traditional red colors, because that’s what they have seen most often.”
It’s a good investment. A study by RealEstate.com suggests that landscaping and hardscaping can deliver a return on investment as high as 150 percent – an ROI that puts it ahead of popular home improvement projects like kitchen or bathroom updates. (We wrote about it here.)
To get started, don’t be afraid to go big. Laying out a walkway that is at least four feet wide – wide enough for two people to pass – or even wider, will make a statement. Everybody else’s walkway on the block will look tiny by comparison.
“It makes even an economical house look like a million bucks,” says Schwind. “It adds so much to curb appeal. It makes it look richer and more impressive. It just makes your house a step up from all the neighbors.”
In terms of design, Schwind noted that a straight-on walkway works well for a formal Colonial house, while a curved walkway might be a better choice for a cottage or bungalow style.
Schwind also says that a common-sense, intentional approach works best for functionality. If there’s a driveway to one side or the other, consider installing one walkway from the street and a second one from the driveway, both ending at the front door.
“It really does make it more functional and you have more visual appeal, because it helps define the space,” says Schwind. “You could also build in an additional garden area in the front with two walkways as well.”
One of the biggest benefits is that the look will last. With clay pavers, the color goes all the way through and never fades. Leave it as it is and the color will become a rich patina over time; clean it with a diluted solution of bleach and water and a nylon brush and it will look exactly the same as the day it was installed. Read more here.
Maintenance is easy, as well. Should a tree root heave several pavers out of place, take out the pavers, set them to one side, dig down and cut the root out, then replace the pavers. Contrast that with a concrete walkway, which will have to be dug up and patched, or replaced entirely, to repair the damage.
After figuring out what kind of pavers you want, the next step is to choose a pattern. A herringbone pattern is effective but will require a lot of cuts, as opposed to a classic running bond or basketweave. Finally, before installation, find and mark where your underground utilities are located. Don’t stop there: offering a clay paver patio out back effectively adds an outdoor room to the living space.
If you are buying and not selling – and if the place doesn’t have a paver walkway up front – envision how it would look with one in place. If there is a poured concrete walkway or patio already there, you could put down thinner pavers made for the purpose atop them and instantly dress up your new home.
We wrote about that here.