7 Spectacular Outdoor Projects to Boost Home Value
Spring is here! With warm weather on the way, it’s time to think about planting, cleaning, and upgrading our outside spaces. Which outdoor projects add the most value to your home? Check it out:
1. An outdoor kitchen for entertaining
Outdoor kitchens shot to popularity during the pandemic, and they’re sticking around. Why? They’re versatile, fun, and great for entertaining. They take outdoor gatherings and backyard grilling to the next level, offering a full suite of cooking appliances, running water, and prep space in one convenient outdoor spot. Forget about running back and forth from the indoor kitchen to the backyard; with an outdoor kitchen, no one has to miss out on a minute of the party. Additionally, an outdoor kitchen can help you save money on utility bills—especially during their highest-use time in the summer. Cooking outdoors helps reduce indoor heat buildup, decreasing the need for air conditioning.
What about the return on investment (ROI)? According to Absolute Outdoor Kitchens, “CNN Money, About.com and Remodeling Magazine support that outdoor kitchens nationally return 100% to 200% of the improvement cost” when you go to sell later. Using the national average cost for an outdoor kitchen ($13,180), that means you’re adding anywhere between $13,180 and $26,360 to the value of your home.
For maximum value boost, think about universally usable features that every buyer will love. For example, is your outdoor kitchen easily accessible from your house? Did you opt for top-of-the-line appliances? Does it have tons of counter space for easy prep? Don’t overlook the basics like storage and functional plumbing. Opulent finishes and clever gadgets could improve your enjoyment of the space—which is important—but if your main concern is resale value, think well-designed and highly functional.
2. An outdoor living space for relaxation
Build this space alongside your outdoor kitchen for ultimate entertainment and relaxation. How do you do it? Many homeowners treat the outdoor living space as an extension of indoor luxury, meaning you can let your indoor aesthetic flow right out onto the patio. This creates a unified look that makes your outdoor sanctuary feel like a cohesive part of your home.
It’s a good idea to cover all or part of your retreat to protect it from wind, rain, and sun—and you can screen it in to keep the bugs out, too. When you think about furniture, consider aesthetics, durability, and comfort. You can opt for freestanding patio furniture, or go with something more permanent with cushioned built-ins. Next, invest in some outdoor patio heaters to make your space usable all year long.
How much value can you expect an outdoor living space to add to your home? According to Better Homes & Gardens, just a patio or deck alone can add almost $20,000 in value. Boost it even more by keeping your region’s weather patterns in mind and designing accordingly.
3. A cozy fireplace to gather ‘round
Picture it: you and your loved ones laughing and telling stories around a crackling fire—anytime you want, because it’s in your backyard. Whether you opt for a built-in stone fireplace or a freestanding firepit, the ROI for this feature is great. Home renovations in general typically return 70% of their cost when you sell your home, and the ROI for this project is around 78%. Those numbers are strictly monetary, which means they don’t factor in your improved quality of life or how much more you’ll enjoy your home when the project is complete.
For maximum return on your investment, go for a natural-gas-fueled firepit and stick to good-looking but inexpensive materials.
4. Trees for shade and privacy
Lush landscaping done by a professional is always valuable—and poor landscaping can reduce your home’s value by 30%. If you need to focus on one aspect, choose trees. Trees are the single most impactful landscaping element when it comes to home value, and just a single healthy tree can have a significant effect.
Trees.com interviewed real estate expert David North, who said. “A tree is one of the most natural and interesting ways to add color, texture and contrast to any home’s yard. The natural beauty of a tree can be especially powerful when it distinguishes one property from others, whether by different shape, color, or size.” He goes on to explain that location is key—and planting a tree in the right spot will provide privacy, shade, and even noise protection.
5. Outdoor lights to accent and dazzle
Done right, outdoor lighting is beautiful, functional, and improves the security of your property—and there are many types to mix and match. Start with spotlights that produce a narrow beam of light to highlight statement features like statues, trees, and water features. Enhance flowerbeds with small accent lights, and use pathway lights to illuminate paths and walkways, making it easier to navigate in the dark. Try wall-mounted lights to provide ambient lighting and enhance the appearance of your property, and finish up with string lights in your outdoor entertaining areas to add a whimsical touch.
Outdoor lighting can be installed by an electrician and wired into your property’s main electrical system—but there are also solar lighting options that are self-charging.
How does outdoor lighting impact your home’s value? According to NAR, it can add $2,500 to the bottom line on its own—but the real value is in the saleability and the way it improves curb appeal. The National Association of Home Builders recently published a study showing that exterior lighting is the most-wanted outdoor feature for homebuyers, with 42% calling it an essential must-have and another 45% calling it desirable. That’s a total of 87% of buyers looking for outdoor lighting in their home searches.
6. A decadent water feature for the aesthetic (and fun!)
Water features can include anything from a small, decorative fountain to a full pool and spa. Depending on what you choose, benefits can range from a nice visual focal point to protection from noise pollution to an opportunity for exercise and improved well-being. Combining features, such as a swimming pool or pond with a waterfall, will deliver maximum impact. You’ll get the beautiful aesthetic, the pleasant sound of running water, and a place of your own to swim or relax poolside. Incorporate underwater accent lighting to create the magical getaway feeling of a true backyard oasis.
What kind of value boost does a water feature offer? That depends on the feature you install, where you install it, what types of materials you use, and of course, where you live. Overall, the main value of water features is the tranquil ambiance they create and the improvement they provide to your home’s curb appeal. Just remember that you have to maintain them. A damaged, dirty, or non-functioning water feature can actually devalue your home—and nobody wants that!
7. High-efficiency irrigation for convenience and conservation
While not as flashy or exciting as some other items on our list, a high-efficiency, automatic irrigation system will improve your quality of life while offering a great ROI. Installing an irrigation system saves you time and energy at home since you don’t have to water your landscaping manually—and you’ll recoup around 86% of the installation cost when you sell in the future. Buyers see the value of an irrigation system because of reduced maintenance time and costs, and the consistency of watering with an automatic irrigation system typically improves the overall aesthetic value of the landscaping.
The exact value boost you’ll get depends on various factors, such as the location and size of your property, the type of irrigation system, and your local real estate market. It's always a good idea to consult with a local real estate agent to determine the specific value that any home feature can add to your home based on your location and the local market conditions.
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