It's no secret that I love the outdoors. Whenever possible, I am out on the road, trail, water or slopes simply enjoying NOT being in front of a computer.

This time of year, we are apparently in the midst of "growing season" for my lawn because I'm mowing it twice a week. We also have some rather robust weeds sprinkled around the front of the house and, because I like a less "abandoned-home" look, I tend to work at keeping those under control. Besides some other basic chores to keep the flies away, our house is pretty self-sustaining.

This is the time of year when people like me get hair-brained ideas about a remodeling project. For some reason, we can't leave well enough alone and feel the need to upgrade, improve or simply re-do something to better suit our needs.

Today I'm speaking to both of you. I'm speaking to the person like myself itching to smash a wall down or build a deck, and I'm speaking the other half of your household, the more pragmatic side, to offer some alternatives that will suit you both. The goal we are after today is a remodeling project that will stand the test of time and won't keep you shackled to the house every weekend.

The first on our list today is a double-whammy. It is something that you should not actually tackle yourself but will provide years (decades?) of service and value, and that is your roof. This is also an area of the home where you should be wary of the "best price" and focus your efforts (and investment) on long-term quality and warranty. If you've purchased your home with a tired-looking roof, this is a great project to tackle early-on. It is also a great renovation for the summertime. As you can imagine, finding an issue with your roof mid-winter is less than ideal.

"Roofing is one of the more valuable, yet unsexy projects a homeowner can tackle," said Badger Realty agent Diane McGregor. "It is critical to the stability and dryness of your home, but is barely noticeable to passive buyers or houseguests," she continued.

Diane is right. I'm still pushing the new roof as one of the more solid investments into your home, but nobody is going to comment on how dazzling it is at your next backyard barbecue. They will just appreciate not getting dripped on when they visit in the rain!

Siding is another long-term remodeling investment in your home that doesn't always get a lot of "press." When I built my house, I went with a light green siding because I wanted something different from the standard white. Of course, my friends started calling it the "Shrek house," but I was still glad I strayed from the norm. I'd encourage you in the same direction. This remodel CAN have a huge impact on your home if you decide to be a little adventurous and creative.

The two cautions I will note for changing your siding are these: Before you commit to that delivery and installation, be sure you have considered the other pieces of the puzzle. What color is your trim, your front door, or even your gutters? Much like the conundrum of tearing down an interior wall only to discover you now have to replace the trim, floorboards, flooring and crown moulding, replacing the siding is a "big swing" and you will want to consider all the other (visible) factors beforehand. Secondly, as with your roof, opt for quality over the best deal. Siding is just as critical to your dry interior as the roof.

The penultimate remodel we'll talk about today is replacing or upgrading your deck or porch. I love being outside, so anything that can extend my home into the fresh air is a big plus for me, and, while these projects will require some maintenance, it is not every year and could be stretched out for five or 10 years, depending on the materials used.

Natural wood can be very attractive and desirable for many. For those of us leaning more towards longer-lasting products, composite decking is just plain great. I know it doesn't have the same look and feel as a nice cedar deck, but for those of us itching to be out in the woods and not re-staining things every couple years, it is a fantastic alternative.

Lastly, and unfortunately also not very "sassy," are your windows. In many (most?) cases, replacing your windows is one of the best upgrades you can do for your home (and your heating/cooling bills!). Although the look won't really change that much, you will notice the difference on that first chilly night in November. (Oh, who are we kidding? September!) Another maintenance-free upgrade, especially in most of these older New England homes, that will pay dividends for years to come and you only have to clean them once a year.

If you are looking to attack a remodeling project this summer, I'd encourage you to focus your efforts on those that will provide long-lasting value and won't tie you to your home. Think "new roof" vs. "new flower beds." That's not to say that flowers, gardens, landscaping, etc. is not valuable and attractive. I'd just rather focus on the flowers and shrubs atop a mountain! Happy hiking!

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