For most Americans, their home is both their biggest purchase and biggest asset. According to surveys in 2019, the average U.S. home cost $227,700. Most Americans would not call themselves “quarter-millionaires” but based on the value of their home, they may have assets amounting to a quarter million dollars to offset their liabilities.
Home remodeling is more than just a way to pass the time. The purposes of home remodeling, including backyard renovations, are to improve the value of the home and increase the enjoyment of the home.
For example, hanging yellow daisy wallpaper in your bathroom might not increase its value, but may increase your enjoyment of your home immeasurably. Conversely, boring stuff, like replacing damaged or missing roof shingles, might only marginally increase your enjoyment, but may have a huge impact on the value of your home.
Landscaping and other backyard renovations are some of the most popular home remodeling projects because they can increase both the enjoyment and value of your home. In fact, landscaping, in general, can add nearly 15% to the resale value of your home. This may seem small, but for the average home of $227,700, this means a simple backyard renovation can result in an increase in home value of over $34,000.
Here are ten examples of backyard renovations that can increase the value and enjoyment of your home:
Some of the simplest backyard renovations have the highest returns on investment (ROI). For example, lawn fertilizing and tree trimming are relatively inexpensive and can vastly increase your home’s curb appeal.
Curb appeal is the first impression that your home makes on potential buyers. Since you only get one chance to make a first impression, realtors can often list homes with greater curb appeal at higher prices. This reflects the understanding that homes with greater curb appeal will sell faster than homes with little or no curb appeal.
Hire a landscaping company or even spend a weekend to weed gardens, trim trees and shrubs, and mow and edge lawns. This time and effort to tidy up your yard can increase your enjoyment of your home and increase its curb appeal.
Another inexpensive, yet highly valuable, backyard renovation is planting gardens and trees. Even when hiring a professional landscaper, you are unlikely to spend more than a few thousand dollars to install a few flower gardens and trees.
Since the cost is so low, and landscaping contributes so much to curb appeal, some basic landscaping can have an ROI over 80%. This means that if you spend $2,000 on landscaping, you will be able to increase your sale price by at least $1,600.
Equally important is the added enjoyment of your landscaped yard. Trees provide shade, which allows greater use of your yard during the summer. And with the right combination of drought-resistant plants and flowers, a garden can reduce your water bill.
A fence is one of those backyard renovations that so clearly increases the value of a home that it is often viewed as part of the home itself. You will often see home listings that highlight a fenced yard as a feature of the home. Fences are outdoor signs of your commitment to the safety of your children and pets. They can reduce the risk of home invasion and road accidents.
Some fence types are primarily protective without many aesthetics. For example, chain link fences are effective for child and pet safety, although they are viewed as “ugly.”
On the other hand, wood, metal, or vinyl fences can secure your yard while providing privacy and an attractive appearance. A backyard renovation to install a decorative and functional fence can greatly improve the utility and enjoyment of your yard for your children and pets. Moreover, it can improve the value and appeal of the home.
Patio or Deck
Another backyard renovation that has both functionality and value is a patio or deck. A large patio can be used for many purposes, including a sport court, a location for hosting an event, or just a place to lay out in the sun.
A concrete patio can also serve dual purposes such as providing a parking pad for an RV. Likewise, a concrete patio can provide an outdoor shop space for automobile repairs, wood working, or any other activities.
A wood deck can likewise provide a place for hosting an event, like cookouts and parties. Wood decks are more aesthetically pleasing than a concrete patio, but can be more difficult to build and maintain. Wood decks need to be painted or stained every few years.
A compromise might be plastic or composite deck boards. These boards are molded from plastic or a combination of plastic and wood. As a result, they last almost twice as long as wood deck boards and do not require painting or staining.
While it may seem extravagant, a backyard kitchen might prove to be a backyard renovation that both increases both enjoyment and value of your home. If you grill often, one reason to install a backyard kitchen is to reduce fuel costs.
Specifically, an outdoor kitchen can use natural gas to power a grill rather than propane. Although propane provides more energy than an equivalent amount of natural gas, natural gas is safer and less expensive than propane tank exchange programs.
Moreover, one persistent risk of grilling is food-borne illnesses. Bacteria like e. Coli and Salmonella can contaminate foods that are prepared in unsafe conditions. By installing an outdoor kitchen with a sink and countertops that can be sanitized, you may be able to lower your risk of cross-contamination and infection by food-borne microbes.
Pool or Spa
Most people believe they would enjoy a backyard pool or spa. However, most swimming pools produce a negative ROI, meaning that a swimming pool will not increase the value of your home by enough to cover the cost of installing the swimming pool. A spa, on the other hand, requires a much lower investment to install and maintain. As such, there is a much higher likelihood that you will recoup your investment in a spa when you sell your home.
Additionally, most people who install a pool underestimate the cost in time, labor, and money to maintain the pool. Once these are included, swimming pool installation can be an enormous investment.
For example, the average annual cost of maintenance is about $250 per year. This maintenance includes testing the water and adding chemicals to provide a safe swimming environment that is free of Cryptosporidia, Giardia, and other water-borne parasites. Add in your time to clean the pool and you have a very large commitment.
Nevertheless, according to the National Association of Realtors, 83% of people who install a pool say it has increased their enjoyment of their home. With such a high enjoyment rating, a swimming pool might be a difficult backyard renovation to forego.
In deciding whether to install a pool or spa, you should also consider:
- Safety of pets and children
- Increased home insurance costs
- Amount of time during the year that it can be used
- Risks of cold weather damaging the pool
- Higher chance of disease transmittal
Along with a pool, families will need to invest in a fence and gate to keep small children away from the water. You will also likely install a pool deck around the pool and, depending on the other sources of shade, may want to install a cabana, canopy, umbrella, or other shelter to protect swimmers from the sun and give them a place to cool off.
Water features, such as fountains, ponds, and waterfalls, have become popular ways to create premium landscaping designs for your backyard renovation. Whereas in the past a home would need to be located near a natural source of water, like a lake, stream, or pond, to have a water feature, modern water features are self-contained and can be connected to the house water system or a yard irrigation system.
Moreover, these water features can conserve water by capturing water and recycling it. For example, a water feature may include a small tank or basin with a pump. The pump pushes the water through the water feature and the basin captures it, creating a closed cycle that requires minimal additional water to replace water lost to evaporation.
One drawback to water features is that it may attract mosquitoes to your backyard. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, so the basin provides a perfect breeding ground for them. To minimize the mosquitoes hanging around your water feature you can look at various pest control solutions including:
- Some plants, such as citronella, lavender, mint, geranium, and jasmine, repel mosquitoes. As an added bonus, these plants give your backyard a pleasant aroma.
- Natural or chemical insecticides in the water. Just keep in mind that some chemical insecticides can be harmful to children or pets who play in, or drink, the water.
- Raise fish in your water feature. Fish eat insects and insect larvae.
- Replace the water and sanitize the water feature frequently. This can also reduce the risk of bacteria, parasites, and other microbes in the water.
Fire Pit or Fire Feature
On the other end of the spectrum of backyard renovations are fire pits and fire features. Fires trigger a primal reaction in people. They become gathering places when hosting an event. Installing a fire pit (for wood fires) or a fire feature (for gas fires) can create a centerpiece to your backyard patio. Some fire features are even surrounded by stone, granite, or marble counters that can serve as tables or counters for guests to enjoy snacks or drinks around the fire.
For homes in cold climates, fire pits or fire features can provide the heat to allow you to entertain guests year-round. For homes in warm climates, fire features can be powered with natural gas or propane to cast off light and a flame without quite as much heat as a wood fire.
If you have a large backyard, a guest house might bring both value and enjoyment to your home. Adding a guest house increases your livable space, which is a critical consideration in determining the value of a home. For example, if your home is 2,700 square feet, the addition of a small 300 square foot guest house brings your total livable space up to 3,000 square feet.
Remember that a guest house does not need a lot of amenities. For example, a guest house does not need a kitchen. Rather, a living area plus a bathroom will probably be sufficient.
Moreover, a guest house does not technically need to include sleeping space. You might build a guest house to serve as a home office, exercise room, or “man-cave” to accommodate any of your work or recreational activities.
Decorating your guest house can let you express your creativity in art design. The style of your guest house does not need to match your main house so you can get crazy. And since your guest house will not be occupied full time, you can save some money by recycling used materials and appliances to outfit it.
Shed or Detached Garage
Although it will not add livable space to your home, a shed or detached garage might give you the additional storage space to free up some space in your home and attached garage. The construction of a shed or detached garage can be simple with four walls and a roof. Alternatively, you can add features, such as electric sockets, lights, and windows. This allows the shed or detached garage to function as both storage and workshop.
In fact, you might even consider piping natural gas to the shed or detached garage and installing a small gas furnace if you live in a cold climate and intend to spend winters working in your shed. Other upgrades to a shed or detached garage might include running a water pipe for a sink, installing an air conditioner for hot weather, and a building a compressed air system for air-powered tools.
The main difference between a shed and a detached garage is the size of the doors. If you need space to store vehicles, you might want to build a detached garage with a garage door or barn door that the vehicles can fit through. Conversely, if you do not need to accommodate vehicles, a smaller door will conserve energy and be less likely to allow hot or cold outside air into the shed.
When it comes to backyard renovations, there are many ways to increase both the enjoyment and value of your home. Landscaping, such as tidying up your yard, planting gardens and trees, adding a water feature, or installing a fire feature, can make your yard more usable and give your home curb appeal. Other backyard renovations can make your backyard more useful for entertaining guests or hosting an event. For example, a new patio or deck, swimming pool, spa, or outdoor kitchen can make your backyard into the ideal venue for parties, cookouts, and get-togethers for family and friends. Finally, you can add to your livable and usable space by building a guest house, shed, or detached garage. These backyard renovations can give you a guest room, workout room, home office, workshop, or storage area to complement your home.