Many homeowners view their outdoor spaces as their own personal retreats — places where they can relax, dine and spend time with friends and loved ones. For this reason, many homeowners consider making investments in major features to transform their outdoor areas into additional living spaces.
Like any home renovation project, however, outdoor renovations can easily get out of control. Before you dive into outdoor improvements, take these key considerations into account to help you stay on budget and ensure that your project is successful.
Match your plan to your budget
One of the key factors in the success of any outdoor project is setting a realistic budget. Once you’ve decided what you’re comfortable spending, you can define the scope of your project.
The 2016 Houzz Landscaping & Garden Trends Study, conducted among registered users of the residential remodeling website, found that 88% of respondents had done or planned to do substantial renovations or complete overhauls, while only 12% had done or planned to make minor updates. Knowing the scope of your plans in the beginning will help you get a basic sense of what the project will cost you.
In the Houzz study, 9 out of 10 homeowners making small improvements spent or planned to spend less than $5,000. Substantial updates, however, called for bigger budgets. And, more than 2 in 5 surveyed homeowners working on a complete overhaul spent or planned to spend $20,000 or more. (Planning on doing a major overhaul? First Internet Bank would be happy to assist you with a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit.)
Having a general understanding of what projects are most popular among outdoor renovators can be helpful as you develop your budget and scope. Across all outdoor projects reported in the study, many homeowners were updating outdoor systems such as irrigation and lighting (82%), flower beds and borders (80%) and structural elements such as patios, terraces and gazebos (72%).
The costs of these projects vary significantly based on a number of factors — nature of the project, scope and professional involvement. For example, while most standard outdoor systems such as irrigation or lighting in small to medium yards can be upgraded for less than $2,000, updates to beds and borders can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Renovation of outdoor structures is typically quite expensive and can easily start at a few thousand dollars and go up, based on the type of structure and the extent of upgrades.
Pick your priorities
The next key factor to consider: What are you trying to accomplish with your renovation?
If outdoor living is top of your mind, you might concentrate on adding outdoor furniture, a fire pit or cooking features to enhance comfort. If a low-maintenance space is a top priority, you might focus on adding plants that require little care and are resistant to cold, drought and wildlife.
When it comes to design, outdoor renovators most valued one that complements the style of their home (46%), promotes outdoor living (45%), and is stylish and beautiful (43%).
In terms of function, a space that’s easy to maintain ranked highest for homeowners (80%), followed by an area suitable for group gatherings and entertainment (49%).
Beyond creating an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space, many homeowners tackled specific challenges during their projects. Top issues included drainage troubles, lack of privacy and drought or water shortages. Identifying your outdoor pet peeves or most pressing concerns should make it easier to set project scope and budget to avoid overspending.
Hire a professional
Once you determine your budget, scope and top priorities, consider meeting with a professional for an initial consultation to discuss what you have in mind for your project. Finding the right landscape contractor or landscape architect can make an entire project come alive. You may be surprised at how reasonable the professionals’ fees are compared with their contributions to the project and the quality of the final outcome.
More than half of outdoor upgraders in the Houzz study hired a landscape contractor or landscape architect/designer (52%) to help bring their vision to life — and for good reason. Landscaping professionals can open your eyes to a wide variety of options for your space that you might not be aware of, provide guidance for staying on schedule and budget, and tackle projects for which specialized skills are particularly beneficial. Certain projects also require the hiring of licensed professionals to comply with local regulations.
An outdoor makeover can make an enormous difference in how you and your family enjoy your time at home. In fact, after the completion of their outdoor project, 75% of homeowners reported resting and relaxing more often in their yards, 64% did more gardening and 55% entertained more frequently in their outdoor areas.
Keeping these tips in mind will help ensure that you not only complete your project without damaging your finances but also achieve an ideal outdoor space that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.
Guest author, NerdWallet
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