Whether you’re just getting into your home or you’ve been there a while and know that you might want to sell the house in the future, developing your backyard space can be important. If you are building something from scratch or adding to an existing outdoor living space, the temptation to go all-out is strong. But does adding an outdoor living space really add any value to the home?
Location, cost, and popularity of specific outdoor projects can affect how much value it adds to a home. However, if you & your family will thoroughly enjoy what you put into your outdoor living space, it will be worth your investment.
There is some value to be had in revitalizing or building an outdoor living space in your backyard. I’ll go over what might affect whether that backyard boost is worth your time, aggravation, and money.
Why Should I Make Improvements to My Outdoor Living Space?
First of all, whether you rent or own your own home, creating an outdoor living space or improving the one you have can provide you with a stress-free zone. It can provide you and your family and friends with a place to congregate. It can be both a relaxing and enjoyable space that, if it’s used enough, will give you enough enjoyment that it is worth your investment.
However, many people who add outdoor living space to their homes or improve the ones they have to do so because they want to add value to their property. Homeowners see the chance to not only enjoy the improvements but hope to get a return on that investment once they are ready to sell their home. Will they?
What Does Location Have to Do with Whether an Outdoor Living Space Will Improve the Value of My Home?
The location has everything to do with whether adding or improving an outdoor living space is worth all of your investments into it (whether that investment is time, aggravation, energy, money, or all of the above).
There are parts of the world that have a very short warm or growing period. In those places, adding a backyard garden or spending a lot of money on a patio and swimming pool may be wasteful. Meanwhile, in the southern United States, for instance, most of the year is warm enough for outdoor spaces to be worth it.
The location has a lot to do with which improvements are going to be the most popular or make the most sense to invest in. If you live somewhere without a lot of hot seasons, a fire pit might be what you and your friends need in the backyard. In warmer areas, a swimming pool might be ideal. In some places (I’m looking at you Florida), and in certain neighborhoods, having a swimming pool is common, almost expected.
Whether you live in a hot region or in a temperate climate zone, a patio will almost always come in useful. You just have to decide what other things you want to add to the patio.
What Are Things to Know and Consider Before Investing in My Outdoor Living Space?
The first thing you should know is the value of your home and the value of the average home in your neighborhood. This is important for all of your calculations of project costs versus what value it could potentially add. Usually, a home improvement’s value is measured as a percentage of the home’s base value.
Take, for instance, the average value a swimming pool will add to a home in the United States. This is 7%–9% of the home’s value. Again, this percentage might be higher or lower depending on where you live. But let’s get to the math. If the appraiser says your home is worth $200,000, then the pool can add a certain percentage of that value back in. The value that a pool will add as of 2023 is 5%-8% according to HGTV pre-pandemic. Post-pandemic, the value has increased a bit to an average of 10% according to several sites, like Bankrate and Redfin.
10% of $200,000 = adds $20,000 in value to that property
So should you have a pool installed? If you have an average-sized in-ground pool installed and everything goes perfectly (permits are not expensive, the ground is perfect; the weather works with you; you choose materials wisely) you are still looking at approximately $38,000 – $68,000.
It could be higher or lower depending on materials and other expenses. For pools insurance is mandatory and so is a fence. I have a detailed article about installing a pool in case you want to read more.
If you and your family are going to have a blast with an outdoor improvement, then that fact may offset the loss. And who knows? When you’re ready to sell, the improved outdoor living space might be the buyer’s deciding factor. However, it’s a good idea to go into each backyard project with the knowledge of how much value it can actually add to your home.
Ideally, you do not want to take a loss. If you may sell sometime in the future, you don’t want to out-price your neighborhood. If your neighborhood housing prices are hovering around $185,000 – $240,000, you do not want to upgrade your backyard (or any space) to where your house is worth over $275,000. The going price in the neighborhood can affect the price you can list your house for.
You should hire professional contractors. If you want to DIY, you need to know what permits and rules you need to abide by–whether those come from the HOA, the city, or the county. Believe me, you can run into some sticky situations if you do not have the proper permits or abide by the rules.
If you break the rules of your HOA, you might wind up having to destroy everything you’ve built. Don’t be that person. If you signed up for a home in an HOA neighborhood, go by the rules or get the rules amended.
Don’t get me started on people who get way over their heads. If you don’t know how to do this, hire professionals!
What Are the Most Popular Backyard Projects and Will They Actually Add Value to My Home?
You can add a lot of value to your backyard by simply upgrading your landscaping to low-maintenance plants and adding some trees. You can also refresh old decks with cleaning and fresh paint.
We can transform concrete patios with staining or stamping. Perhaps all you need is new furniture to place outside? Adding the right amount of lighting can also add beauty, safety, and value to a home for a rather small price.
As of the publication of this article, the five most popular backyard improvements to add beyond the patio itself are:
- Fire Pits
- Pergolas or Gazebo
- Structures for privacy (landscaping or fences),
- Outdoor Kitchens
- Swimming Pool
Water features come in at a close 6th. They are relatively inexpensive to install and can add a few thousand to the value of your home.
Be sure you know an outdoor project is worthwhile through good use or by adding value to the home. Most outdoor projects will give a good return on investment but double-check–if that’s important to you. And if you want to know more about those top five projects, check out my article about them, “Top 5 Backyard Projects that Boost a Home’s Value”.