In 2010 we were commissioned by the James Hardie company to examine the life-cycle costs of their Hardiboard siding compared to vinyl and natural cedar siding. It should be common knowledge that alternative materials (vinyl and fiber-cement products like Hardiboard) are more expensive to install than natural wood siding. But the interesting and important question is if the higher cost is justified through longer life and less maintenance (i.e., not painting).
Siding Maintenance: Vinyl vs. Wood
What we found in doing multiple Reserve Study cases on multiple properties was enlightening. The overall Reserve costs (installation and maintenance) for vinyl siding were 18-26% lower than for Associations with wood siding. The overall fiber-cement siding Reserve costs (installation and maintenance) were 36-38% lower than for Associations with wood siding. The results were presented at the 2011 Association of Professional Reserve Analysts (APRA) Annual Conference. The summary slide from that presentation is shown below.
If your Association has a significant amount of wood siding, one way to lower your Reserve contributions is by changing out your wood siding to a long-life material like vinyl or a fiber-cement product such as Hardiboard.
See the James Hardie website page on this issue here, or you can read some independent information on the advantages of fiber-cement siding from http://www.ThisOldHouse.com by clicking here.