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What to know about outdoor living spaces

Home trends come and go. What was popular as recently as a decade ago may have lost some luster in the eyes of today's home buyers. Though that's historically been the case in regard to real estate, outdoor living rooms are one relatively recent home trend that figures to have a longer shelf life, especially in the aftermath of a global pandemic during which people were encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

Real estate professionals and organizations like the National Association of Home Builders note the popularity of outdoor living spaces among prospective home buyers, and how that popularity has grown in recent years. Outdoor living rooms not only appeal to potential buyers, they also serve as a means for current homeowners to get more out of their properties. Homeowners mulling outdoor living space projects should consider various factors before deciding to go ahead with a project.

· Cost: The home renovation resource HomeAdvisor estimates that the average cost of an outdoor living space is around $7,600. That cost can easily go up depending on where homeowners live and the features they want to have in their outdoor living spaces. For example, including a built-in fire pit in an outdoor living space will cost more than purchasing a stand-alone fire pit that can be picked up and moved. But many homeowners feel a built-in fire pit makes an outdoor living space even more special.

· Return on investment: Return on investment is another factor for homeowners to consider as they try to decide if they should install outdoor living spaces and how to design those areas. Much conflicting data about the ROI on outdoor kitchens can be found online, but many trusted real estate organizations report that such additions do not mesmerize prospective buyers. Data from the American Institute of Architects indicates that outdoor kitchens are routinely ranked among the least desirable home features, which means homeowners should not expect substantial ROI when selling their homes. But that built-in fire pit? Estimates from the National Association of Realtors suggest fire features recover around 67 percent of homeowners' initial investment. In addition, 83 percent of homeowners surveyed by the NAR who had installed fire features said they had a greater desire to be home after completing the project.

· Space: An outdoor living space may only be as relaxing as the space allows. The proximity of neighbors may affect privacy levels, which can make it hard to enjoy movie night outdoors or curl up to quietly read a good book. In addition, landscaping also may need to be addressed if drainage is an issue in the backyard. That can add to the cost, and drainage concerns may limit the materials homeowners can work with.

Outdoor living spaces are popular. Homeowners must consider various factors before deciding if such spaces are for them.

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