For the last several years, homeowners have been putting a priority on creating outdoor living spaces for their homes. This has led to an increase in the building of outdoor spaces such as decks and patios.
Having these kinds of spaces isn’t always enough, however, if you aren’t able to use the space year round. Many homeowners who would otherwise want to invest in these types of spaces may end up putting it off, simply because they don’t believe it will get enough use to be viable.
That’s why adding some features to an outdoor living space that can extend their use can be beneficial; it adds value to the area, and increases homeowner use and enjoyment. The following five projects are designed to help make an existing outdoor space more usable at any time of year.
Fire Pit or Outdoor Fireplace
Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces make great focal points for any outdoor living space. They create a gathering point, and allow you to extend the use of the space into the evening hours as well as into the colder months of the year with the heat and light they provide.
Both of these features can add a lot of use and function to the area, but they are different in terms of operation and cost. A fire pit costs around $700 on average for a built-in model, or you can purchase a movable version for about $100. With a fire pit, you can gather around it on all sides, so it typically sits in the middle of your patio, which can mean it’s in the way when not in use.
An outdoor fireplace can be more expensive, averaging $5,000 - $10,000 if you use a readymade insert. You can only gather in front of it, so it’s a little less versatile, but it’s also tucked out of the way, so you aren’t using up valuable real estate on the patio as well. They make good additions to spaces that have other built-in features like outdoor kitchens, because you can typically add on in style easily.
Hot tubs can be used in all kinds of weather and temperatures, including during the snow. This makes them a great addition to outdoor spaces where a pool might not get a lot of use, but a water feature could be attractive.
Hot tubs come in all shapes and sizes including some that can be sunk into the ground, some that can be placed on a deck or patio, and even some that can double as an endless exercise pool. Because of these many choices, you’ll also have a range of associated costs. The average hot tub installation will run around $6,925 for a tub that seats four people. Keep in mind that many hot tubs are heavy, so if you want to place it on the deck, you may need to have it inspected to ensure it can handle the weight, since there are many factors that go into determining whether or not a deck can handle the additional load.
Hot tubs can be located alongside pools or on patios easily, however, so even if the deck isn’t the best place to install one, it’s possible to find a good location elsewhere.
Sunrooms blur the line between indoor and outdoor spaces. They can be three-season rooms with walls made of screens or they can be four season spaces with highly insulated windows. Regardless of type, they can usually be designed to create wide-open views so you can feel like you’re outdoors even when you aren’t.
Sunroom additions have an ROI of just shy of 60%, which means that they can add some value to the home, as well as recreation and enjoyment. Sunrooms cost between $35,000 and $55,000 for a three season room with fans and outlets. Costs do go up as you winterize and create a more year round space, with most four-season sunrooms topping out around $60,000 to $90,000. This is mostly due to the amount of insulation and tightly fitting windows that are required for the space.
Add Good Lighting
Good lighting is important year round, particularly when you want to extend the use of your outdoor space into the evening hours. During the winter months, when the days are shorter this becomes even more important to the use of the space. Installing good landscape lighting to your patio, deck, or pool area can help make the space more functional while opening up more opportunities for things like entertaining.
Outdoor lighting should ideally be customized to the space you’re using. For example, if you have walking paths, you’ll want to ensure they’re well lit, while patios and decks may need additional lighting near seating and doorways to ensure the space is safe and functional. Outdoor lighting can therefore have a fairly wide range of associated costs, with the average being about $3,800 for 20 outdoor lighting fixtures.
Consider an Awning
Most people associate awnings with creating shade on a hot day, but they also have use year round as well. Awnings can offer some protection from the elements, which can help keep snow and ice off of decks and patios, extending the amount of time they can be used. This way, you won’t have to spend as much time shoveling out an outdoor area on a nice winter’s day.
Not all awnings are going to work well for this; cloth awnings and those designed solely for providing shade may not be able to offer the protection you need. Look for aluminum awnings or have a custom, attached pergola with a solid roof added above your patio.
A metal awning installation can be installed for as low as $600 to $1,000, while an attached pergola with a roof can run around $3,000 to $6,000.
Get More from Your Outdoor Living Spaces
Outdoor living is becoming more important not only to homeowners, but also their properties. And the more versatile the space is, the more use it will get. Add any of these projects to your existing outdoor space to increase its value and the amount of use that the area will get and start expecting more from outdoor living.