Structural VS Aesthetic Repairs: What is better?
The right answer for you and your specific situation depends on what you want to achieve in the short term.
Once you know the difference between a wood repair bid that is geared towards improving aesthetics and one that is meant to improve structural integrity (see Structural VS Aesthetic Repairs: What’s the difference?), you may find yourself having to choose which to do first.
There isn’t a formula or a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The right answer for you and your specific situation depends on what you want to achieve in the short term.
Let me explain the details of what each scope will achieve in the short term to help you decide what to prioritize.
An aesthetic repair scope will be more extensive work-wise and potentially dollar-wise, than a scope focused on structural repairs only.
A scope for aesthetic rehab is often drafted without a thorough inspection of the structure and focuses on an immediate improvement of the overall look of the structure.
In aesthetic scopes, it is common that structural inconsistencies will be patched, filled in with Bondo or a similar product, and then primed and painted.
The immediate result achieved from an aesthetic repair from a general contractor would be a prettier building exterior and improved curb appeal while ignoring structural integrity and improvement.
Conversely, a scope for structural repairs is drafted from a thorough termite inspection of your residential structure and focuses on structural problems and inconsistencies and not on aesthetics.
In structural scopes, damaged wood members are properly repaired or altogether removed and replaced by new wood members to restore structural integrity to like-new conditions in the repaired area.
The immediate result achieved from a structural scope of work drafted after a thorough termite inspection would be the restoration of structural integrity to like-new conditions in the areas repaired while ignoring the overall look and curb appeal of the structure.
If you have to decide between one repair program over another, you need to consider your immediate concerns: curb appeal or restoring structural integrity.
Another thing to take into consideration when having to decide between structural or aesthetic repairs, is how priorotizing one over the other will affect you down the road.
Prioritizing either one over the other can present problems in the future. For example, choosing to first perform aesthetic repairs before structural repairs can be problematic because it is possible that a structural inspector will later find and undue patch-work that was done as part of an aestherics repair rehab.
Because aesthetic repairs simply patch up some structural integrity issues, a structural inspector will likely find and expose patch-work previously performed and will include in his scope the work to properly repair or altogether replace the damaged wood members to restore structural integrity.
This creates redundancies and unnecessary costs where you would essentially pay to have the same issue addressed twice, once for an aesthetics lift and then again to regain structural integrity.
Choosing to first perform structural repair work before an aesthetic rehab can potentially be problematic for long-term curb appeal. Your structural repair scope of work should always include priming and painting of repaired or new wood members.
The problem is that the areas that are freshly painted as part of a structural repair program will never perfectly match the aesthetic of areas not repaired and rehabbed.
Even when you use the same paint from the same manufacturer using the exact paint code, there is always the possibility that new and repaired wood members will have a slightly different look next to wood members that have old weathered paint and have been exposed to the elements for a long time.
In areas where exposure to the elements such as the sun, wind, or water is extreme, newly repaired and painted wood can look drastically different from the weathered wood members around it.
In an ideal situation, you would schedule your structural repairs first to protect the structural integrity of your home, then immediately follow-up with the aesthetic repairs.
When planning to perform repairs, be sure to be fully informed so you know what to expect and avoid surprise expenses.