Outdoor spaces are often a key motivator for buying a home. Is the back yard expansive? Is the view incredible? Maybe the area that highlights a pool, creek, or water feature is a selling point for your family. As summer sets in, perhaps you are thinking about buying a home for the potential you see in its outdoor space.
Here are six questions to ask yourself about the cost before you embark on an outdoor remodel:
- If there are multiple outdoor remodeling projects to tackle, how will you prioritize between the functional and immediate vs. cosmetic and non-urgent?
When considering the cost of an outdoor remodel, it is wise to consider which projects would require immediate attention and which ones could be done at a slower pace. Are there problems that may need repair before the house is livable, like adding porch rails for safety? Or do you simply want to amp up the patio area so you can fire up your grill on the weekends? It is important to calculate all facets of the expense and time to complete a project before you jump in.
- Will you do the work yourself or will you have to hire out or contract the work? Will you cover the costs out of pocket or take out an additional loan to pay or will insurance cover the cost of repairs?
Many outdoor projects can be done by weekend warriors, while others may require the skill and expertise of a professional. Some projects like sodding the yard or screening in a porch may be within your skillset, while other projects like roofing the house or painting the brick facade may best be left to those who have the right equipment and a crew to complete the job. It’s important to also understand which projects, as in a roof repair, may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy and which ones are not. Depending on the size and nature of a project, will you cover the cost or need to take out a second mortgage?
- Will any of the improvements require permissions from the neighborhood association or a historic preservation committee?
If you live in an older house or one with a strict HOA, you may need to consider the restrictions of outside sources before starting on a project. It would be a shame to spend time or financial resources only to learn that the work had to be done differently. Does your neighborhood allow you to screen your porch? What about painting the brick? Does it have to be a certain color or type of paint? What specifications might your privacy fence have to meet? Be sure to procure any permits before getting started.
- Will any of the improvements require adjustments on your insurance premiums?
Some additions or remodeling projects may require you to upgrade or adjust your homeowner’s insurance. Adding a swimming pool or second story back deck may require greater liability insurance. Remodeling typically adds value to the home and it usually means you need to adjust your policy so that any future claims on the improvements would be covered. It’s always a good idea to alert your insurance company before the remodeling begins.
- Will any of the improvements save you money?
Do any of the projects you plan to remodel have the potential to save you money? Will upgrading your windows to newer, energy-efficient ones save on your monthly utility costs? What about adding an irrigation system or a fence? Maybe you’re planning to screen in your deck and add a big screen TV to watch the game on the weekends? How long will it take for this improvement to cover the cost of those season tickets you let go of?
- If you were to sell the house, what kind of return on investment (ROI) might you gain?
Not every upgrade or project will yield monetary benefits. Adding outdoor lighting, landscaping, or a firepit, may not earn dollars back in your pocket, but these additions may increase your own enjoyment of your home. The biggest “bang for your buck” outdoor improvements that continually rank high on the ROI list of outdoor improvements include backyard patio and deck additions, roof updates, and entry door, window, and siding replacements.
No matter which investments you choose to make for your outdoor space, make sure that the payoff will be there for you in the end – whether that’s in resale value or in moments of enjoyment!