Reno Month: Renovating the Outdoors

A home renovation can involve more than the interior and exterior of your house. Increasingly, people treat the outside as an extension of their home and are prepared to make a considerable investment in creating functional and attractive outdoor areas.

Well-designed outdoor spaces add greatly to your enjoyment of your home and your pride in your property. An outdoor renovation can also enhance the curb appeal of your home and increase its value.

It’s a good idea to start with an overall concept or plan, even if you intend to do the work over several years, or longer. A professional renovator can offer you lots of helpful advice on decks, sheds, fences, and other structural elements. You may also want to consult with a professional landscaper on plant selection and the overall aesthetic design of your property.

  • Think about how you want to use the outdoors, and design accordingly. Do you like to entertain and BBQ regularly for a crowd? Do you enjoy doing yard work? Want to grow your own vegetables? Need a play area for the children? Do you treasure a small private area? And so on. This tells you how to allocate space for various outdoor activities.
  • A key question is maintenance. How much time do you have? Are you able to look after your property yourself? Do you enjoy it? Low maintenance does not mean you have to comprise on looks or enjoyment. For instance, invest in long-lasting materials for walkways and structures that require little upkeep, use groundcovers to eliminate lawn mowing, and concentrate on native plants to reduce watering.
  • Be practical and build in as much convenience as possible. Add plenty of everyday and seasonal storage space. Determine the best placement for a clothesline. Locate garbage and recycling containers where they are easy to get at. Install a shed or rack for bicycles. Add water and electrical outlets where they make the most sense. Consider where to pile snow. And so on.
  • Think safety for your family and visitors. Well-placed lighting with motion sensors provides visibility where and when needed—whether taking out the garbage or arriving at your home at night. Non-slip surfaces on walkways and driveways prevent accidents. Fences and gates can help deter intruders while adding style to your property.
  • By all means, have fun and be personal. Use lighting in the garden and around your home for dramatic effect. Add sculptures or natural materials for a creative, artistic touch. Install a pond or waterfall for soothing relaxation. Entice birds to your backyard with a birdbath and feeders, or attract butterflies with a natural habitat of flowers. In other words, let your imagination loose and create your very own “garden of delight”.
  • Be aware that some outdoor projects are subject to codes and regulations. For instance, many municipalities require a permit for fences, and will usually have guidelines for fence design and construction. A professional renovator can tell you what permits and inspections are necessary in your area.
  • Similarly, a professional renovator can explain what materials and product are most suitable for your outdoor projects. New products, often designed for greater longevity and ease of installation and maintenance, regularly enter the marketplace. Experienced renovators can discuss the benefits and characteristics of various options.
  • Whether you plan to do outdoor renovations in conjunction with other renovations to your home, or later, let your renovator know. It may be advantageous to run water and electrical connections to the outside when doing interior renovations, or a gas line for a BBQ to a future deck. This can save expense and extra work later.

Above all, take your time planning your outdoors renovation. Walk around in your own neighbourhood and others to get inspired by what other homeowners are doing. Go on garden tours, look at magazines, and do research online. Check out designs, products and plantings. Once you are ready to start planning, you can proceed with confidence, knowing that you have done your homework.