Side by Siding Caring for Your Building's Exterior

 As spring dawns anew on a frigid Chicago landscape, many condo dwellers will get  their first prolonged looks at Mother Nature’s wintery ravages. Nowhere is this better seen than on a property’s exterior siding, much of which might need cleaning and replacement in the  season ahead.  

 When it comes to choosing siding materials, today’s condo boards have more options than ever—from vinyl to fiber cement to eco-friendly recycled clapboards and soffits. With  so many options to choose from, boards might beg the question: What siding  material is best for our multifamily building? Budget, Chicago’s inclement weather and maintenance requirements are the three main factors  associations should consider when choosing siding, experts say.  

 Planning and Budgeting

 Christine Evans, president and CEO of Vanguard Community Management in  Schaumburg, emphasizes the importance of boards assessing their budget  realistically before anything else. “There's a lot of different factors, and a lot of planning. People just have to  be sensible about it and take into consideration where their property lies in  the economic world of real estate, what money they have on hand, how their  delinquencies are, and if they can qualify for a loan. Knowing all that  financial information will tell them what they can afford to do and what they  can’t. I would say they also should consider how long it takes to do the entire  community so it all looks the same, especially if they’re upgrading. You don’t want to have one section get upgraded and then have the board change and scrap  the remainder of the project.”  

 While experts agree that there is no such thing as a single best siding for  Chicago condos, there are some that stand out above the rest and a couple they  suggest boards avoid. Bill Conforti, president of Siding-1 Windows-1 Exteriors  located in Chicago, says while the classic option of wood is aesthetically  pleasing, unless an association has enough funds and time to invest in biyearly  re-painting and basic upkeep, he advises against it. The constant fluctuation  of wood prices—which have nearly doubled in the past few years—could also cost associations a lot more than expected in the long run when it  comes time to replace panels and take other necessary maintenance steps.  

 “Some people think choosing wood is a good move because it's a more expensive  product,” says Evans. “And right now it's considered to be a nicer appearance than vinyl in most  instances. But they have to realize what it costs to maintain it. Wood doesn't  look so good if you don't maintain it. Buyers need to know what those costs are—replacing wood that rots, what's the potential for rot, how often does it need  to be stained, what does that cost?” Evans also says aluminum, which used to be a popular siding option because of  its affordability, has been phased out due to denting issues.  

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