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Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space – How to Get it Right

Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space – How to Get it Right

Decks and Patios Add Outdoor Living Room

Today’s buyers are looking for homes that maximize living space in a smaller but smarter home. Buyers are looking for ample storage as well as livable floor plans. Outdoor rooms add living space without adding to the square footage. They are a “bonus” room that doesn’t need to be heated or cooled, and they don’t have to break the budget.

Fire Pit traditional-patio

If you are looking to maximize the appeal of your home before you sell, you might consider the addition of a deck or patio. If you already have a deck or patio, you can spruce it up easily, adding that outdoor appeal for today’s buyers.

Planning  Outdoor Rooms

A properly planned deck or patio can add functionality as well as beauty to a home’s design. Equally important, it can expand the living area with the addition of charming and usable outdoor living spaces.

The first step to creating a deck is finding the perfect design to compliment the exterior of the home and meet the desired outdoor lifestyle of the homeowners. Large home supply stores have design software accessible on their websites allowing homeowners to create and print a customized 3-D deck design. Designs and materials can be changed with a click, and do-overs are definitely allowed.

Try Lowes, or Home Depot, for a start. Both sites have how-to videos and idea books to get started. Tip: Type into the search box, “design a deck” and you’ll get lots of great results.

Spending time envisioning the deck before putting pen to paper or mouse to hand will help. Ideas are everywhere — readily available in magazines and on-line. Houzz is a great website where you can find ideas, beautiful photos, products, and professionals in many home-related industries. You can open a free account, start saving ideas and plans to your “idea books” and do some great planning and dreaming. As you are envisioning your perfect outdoor room:

Some questions to consider include:

  • what will the deck be used for
  • how often will it be used
  • who will use it
  • and what time of the day or night will it be used

Considerations in Deck and Patio Design

With these ideas in mind, a homeowner can create a variety of areas on and around the deck or patio for different uses, including food prep, eating, relaxing and entertaining. If a pool or hot tub is also part of the design, other issues will need to be addressed such as electrical supply, privacy and adequate safety measures.

Outdoor Rooms
Contemporary Patio design by San Francisco Architect Koch Architects, Inc. Joanne Koch

The location of the deck will be determined by the available yard space, accessibility to and from the home, and showcasing the best views. Enclosing part of the deck with a roof can make the use of the deck more flexible and can act as a transition from the home to the outside. You also may appreciate the weather resistance of a partially covered deck, adding areas to bring fabrics and other items that don’t survive the elements easily.

Outdoor rooms
Contemporary Patio design by Tel Aviv Photographer Yaniv Schwartz – Photographer

Building Permits Are A Must

Location of he deck may also be dictated by local building and zoning ordinances. These ordinances will have guidance regarding the size and placement of the deck, height of privacy screens and the distance needed from property lines.

Home Owners Associations may have restrictions or guidelines on anything that is considered an outdoor room. A call to the utility company to check on the location of buried pipes and utility lines can prevent any loss of service, as well as save time, expense and trouble later.

Some of the requirements listed in building codes for an above-ground deck include the distance between support posts – usually no more than 6 feet apart, and distance between railing spaces – usually no larger than 4 inches apart.

Outdoor rooms
Modern Exterior design by Chicago Architect Becker Architects Limited

The height, design and spacing of the railings is important, because they are the most repeated and most prominent visual element on the deck. Railings may be adhered to posts that are placed in the ground or attached to the decking itself. Material choices are many and include wood, metal, heavy cording or rope, stone or other building material, as long as code requirements are met.

Design Without Regrets

One of the complaints most often heard after a deck is built is that “we should have made it bigger.” To make sure to get it right, stake the layout into the yard and tie string between the stakes at the height of the railing. Grouping lawn furniture in various areas can simulate the ways the deck might be used. This added planning step can help you visualize the results.

On the other hand, a deck that dwarfs a home will awkward. To get the most out of the available space, multiple levels can add extra space without over-taking the home.

Making a deck blend in with a home’s decor can be done by incorporating and repeating design elements from the home. Paint in a similar or complementary shade will also help. Turning a deck into an extension of the house is a great way to create an outdoor room with a comfortable vibe.

Outdoor rooms
Asian Landscape design by San Luis Obispo Landscape Architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Built-in benches, tables and planters add a feeling of stability and permanence to the deck and create the tie between deck and the landscape. Flowers, potted ornamental trees and other deck accessories can create a seamless transition between the deck itself and the natural surroundings. Homeowners with small lots are even finding space to grow herb and vegetable gardens.

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Additional Reading:

Thanks to David Goldberg for an informative guest post!

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector

phone: 301-913-9213 
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

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Summary
Outdoor Rooms add Living Space
Article Name
Outdoor Rooms add Living Space
Description
Outdoor rooms add living space, like decks and patios. These tips will help you plan an outdoor room that not only adds value, but appeals to today's buyers
Author
Publisher
The Highland Group - with eXp Realty
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5 Responses to Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space – How to Get it Right

  1. […] Outdoor living space can be found in a deck or patio, or even in a side-yard. Creativity and some good old-fashioned labor can produce attractive outdoor spaces that add to the livability of any home. […]

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