Outdoor Living Spaces Are Just as Important as Indoors

Homebuyers have typically invested in aftermarket alterations and remodels after move-in, making outdoor living projects a hot commodity for remodelers.  Post-Covid, new homebuyers cite better outdoor living space as one of their top priorities and thus expect to find much more that a postage stamp of concrete included in the backyard of their new home.  Today, experts contend that the size of the outdoor living area should correspond with the size of the house.

Planning for the outdoor living area should start pre-construction with a site analysis. Careful analysis of any existing trees as well as desirable and undesirable sightlines can influence the entire home design. Soil moisture conditions and pH levels should dictate for your grass, shrub and tree selections. Keep in mind that sweeping lawns with sprawling amounts of water-hungry grass that requires mowing are passé.  Hardscapes and decks surrounded by water-saving native plants and native greenscapes are in.  Some grass area is good, says The Lawn Institute, because lawns produce oxygen, sequester carbon and keep temperatures down in urban and suburban areas, but strive to use drought tolerant grass varieties.  These same benefits can come from preserving and adding trees to the site, plus trees can help stabilize soil, absorb rainwater and block wind.

In Dallas, the value of an outdoor kitchen has increased by 62%, rising from $5,597 to $9,056 according the just released Summer/Fall 2021 HomeLight Top Agent Insights Report after surveying top real estate agents across the country. 

As part of the site assessment for new construction, make it a practice to analyze native species that can be incorporated into the landscape design.

Planning for the outdoor living area should start pre-construction with a site analysis. Careful analysis of any existing trees as well as desirable and undesirable sightlines can influence the entire home design. Soil moisture conditions and pH levels should dictate for your grass, shrub and tree selections. Keep in mind that sweeping lawns with sprawling amounts of water-hungry grass that requires mowing are passé.  Hardscapes and decks surrounded by water-saving native plants and native greenscapes are in.  Some grass area is good, says The Lawn Institute, because lawns produce oxygen, sequester carbon and keep temperatures down in urban and suburban areas, but strive to use drought tolerant grass varieties.  These same benefits can come from preserving and adding trees to the site, plus trees can help stabilize soil, absorb rainwater and block wind.

Just like a good designer draws an indoor kitchen with consideration for food prep, cooking, serving, storage and cleanup or the living/dining rooms with consideration of where furniture can be placed, the same process should be used in planning the outdoor kitchen and living spaces.  Spaces that provide shelter, such as roof covers, screens, pergolas, gazebos and awnings, can help transition spaces and create “intimate sanctuary spaces” says Green Builders Outdoor Living Guide.

Specify folding or sliding doors and windows to blur the lines between inside and out.  To make your outdoor space cohesive with the rest of your home, use similar colors inside and out for a seamless transition. Inside, incorporate colors that complement the trees, plants and rocks outside; outside pick up colors that are used for interior accents and décor. Scored and colored concrete, clay bricks, flagstone, patio pavers and ceramic tile made for the outdoors can be great opportunities to accent.  Landscaping gravel and sand, available in a variety of colors and textures, can be used to add a pop of color.

Merchandize your model homes around the things that an active community enjoys by incorporating an edible garden, putting green, sports court or exercise pool. 

Besides the feature attractions of your outdoor living plan, be sure the building budget includes allocation for landscaping material, smart irrigation and installation costs as well as accents and special features.  Outdoor heaters and fireplaces or fire pits can extend the outdoor living season in winter, while shaded areas and cool misting systems allow for more tolerable time outdoors in the heat of summer.  Add retractable outdoor screens to minimize solar heat gain, let the fresh air in and keep the bugs out.

The railing category is one area that has undergone significant changes, reports an NAHB Best in American Living™ article, noting a wide variety of opportunities to customize with color options and rail styles.   Weather-resistant aluminum railing systems with thin aluminum cables allowing for a full unobstructed view of the surrounding areas are the hot ticket.  Using glass as the infill material in your railing system can create a windbreak; frost it to add privacy without entirely blocking sunlight.  Luminii’s handrail lighting system makes it easy to beautifully illuminate pathways.

RDI  by Barrette Outdoor Living’s Finyl Line is a low-maintenance vinyl railing reinforced with strong aluminum stiffeners that run the full length of both the top and bottom rails. Create a custom look with many choices of infill, top rail and color options. 

The Latitudes Horizontal Rod Rail by RDI features horizontal ½” round steel rods.

International Builders Show Best of IBSx winner in the Outdoor Products category was Axis Smart Glass Bioclimatic System, a pergola system with smart glass as well as rain and wind sensors.  The sensor control louvres tilt and silently rotate up to 90 degrees, and with the flip of a switch glass can go from being clear and transparent to being frosted and opaque.
Watch this video to see it open and close.

Dallas showed average valuation for inground hot tubs was increased by 55%, from $4,236 prior to COVID to $6,578, and decks were worth $4,236 prior to COVID, and are now worth $6,578 – an increase of 55%.

A solid outdoor lighting plan adds safety and security, but with the availability of outdoor-rated chandeliers and pendants, lighting can also add a decorative accent.  Smart appliances and irrigation are a must-have.  Specifying storage solutions for added convenience or to keep the outdoor space clutter-free are just as important outside as inside, too.  How about a built-in storage area for blankets positioned nearby that fire pit? What about an outdoor shower and change room with plenty of hooks to hang wet bathing suits and towels?

THE BOTTOM LINE:  Get outdoor living right and your homes will sell even quicker and appraise for higher value.  Homeowners will be inviting their friends over for backyard entertainment, and some of them will come knocking at your door to buy a home with “a better outdoor living experience” as a top priority on their wish list.

Download The Outdoor Living Article from Building Savvy Magazine