It's true that kitchens, bathrooms and the right number of bedrooms are key to buying a house. However, there are other features like decks, views and great landscaping that make a house stand out from the crowd and influence buyers. These features become even more critical when it's a buyers market with more houses for sale than buyers.
We might not count decks in the square footage of a home's living space today, but the concept of creating outdoor living spaces is gaining popularity. Maybe in the future outdoor living space will be included in house listings similar to the way unfinished/below level or basement space is included today.
Prioritize Your Deck Dreams
Maybe you already have a deck or patio, but it's too small or for some reason you're not using it much? Why not dream a little and put together a list of features your dream deck might have. Build your dream list first, putting down anything you want, then go back and prioritize your list. If you already have a deck, look at your top 3 features and see how they can be added to what you have. For a new deck, your budget will tell you how many of the deck features you've listed will be possible.
Features to Make You Smile
Before we get into the details around size and choice of deck materials, there are some key decisions to make so get out a piece of paper and jot down your dreams, what you'd like in your deck or patio.
Family Activities – How much time does your family spend at home? What activities do you tend to do together, i.e. family dinner every night? How often do you have company or throw parties? Don't worry about one deck that has to do it all, as most indoor parties find people gathering in several places and always around the food (the secret to directing where you want people to go).
In kitchen planning it's common to identify activity areas. You might want one area for cooking and family dinners, and another space for small social gatherings that let you enjoy the views from the side of the house while the children play in the backyard.
Location – While we tend to think of decks hiding behind the house while porches are in front, they're both outdoor living spaces to be enjoyed by those who live there. What views do you want to capture from your deck, porch or patio? You've heard about wrap-around porches … so use your imagination and imagine 2 or 3 outdoor spaces woven together by outdoor paths, with doors that fit their purpose – a patio door from the living room for informal gatherings outdoors versus family dinners on a deck off the kitchen.
Design – It's not uncommon for new homes to be sold without a deck, to cut down on the price of a new home. Good builders will prepare the footings and leave a gravel bed where they think a deck should go. When it comes to designing your deck, you need to look at the bigger picture, one that includes your home's design and the landscaping as they all go together to make that visual impression. If you haven't finished your landscaping, it's wise to plan the deck/patio space together with the landscaping and walkways that will help tie it together.
Features/Decisions You Might Overlook
- Would you like your deck to be covered? with a roof, arbor or awning?
- Is your ideal location adjacent to the house? or farther away to capture views?
- Would you like to use a design unique to your property?
- Will the use of screening add to your enjoyment, especially if there is water nearby?
- Would you like to expand the seasons when you can use your covered deck with window panels you can swap for summer screens?
- Is there a dedicated chef who wants to create an outdoor kitchen?
- Maybe you don't have time for extensive gardening but you'd like to include planters for herbs and/or colorful flowers?
- Would you like multiple spaces, and possibly ones in different sizes to support the intended activities like a quiet nook for one person, where you can sneak off to read and take a nap.
We'll add additional deck articles to our library soon. Ones that will help you with the advantages of decks and patios, an overview of material choices and more. If there are other aspects of deck design, installation and maintenance that we can help you with, let us know via the comment section below. Sign up for our newsletter and you'll hear about each month's theme and learn from our home professional members around the world.