Many have asked me about what adds value to a home when it comes to backyards. Most people know that a $60K pool will usually not add $60K in value to a home. In some cases, it can even be a liability, or it highly depends on where the home is located and what is expected in that area of town. What about fancy landscaping? When it comes to property management, many savvy investors love a yard that has little to no maintenance, saving on landscaping expenses. Flippers many times just leave a yard like a blank canvas, putting money into the front yard and curb appeal. When it comes to one’s personal residence, much of the value can be seen in the intrinsic joy a yard brings and the usability for the owner. I had one client that wanted to make sure the backyard faced a certain direction., was not sloping and had certain feng shui characteristics. Another wanted to make sure the sun came across the yard in a perfect path for their love of gardening, so she could grow the best produce. One client had to have a space for a Japanese Maple. Others are in love with having a fire pit, or an outdoor eating area. Recently I sold a home where an appraiser called and was curious as to why it sold for $11,000 over asking, relative to other similar homes? I believe it was due to the high-end landscaping, custom lighting, a water feature, perfected irrigation and watering system, etc. This stuff is also very expensive and sometimes costly to maintain, but definitely added value to this homes selling price. What I’m getting at, many times an addition of this or that it’s not a value add to others (or a buyer), but it adds tremendously to your life and perhaps family. And, if done with some forethought, you may be able to accomplish both.
My backyard has gone through some serious renovation over the last few years, and I can now write this post without feeling shame for having a half finished, project-of-a-backyard. The first dilemma for many, to hire a professional, or do it yourself. I tend to be a glutton for punishment, so I took on the “art project,” as I like to call it. The term gives me room for error – ha ha ha. Whether it’s a financial thing, or you want to tap into your creative juices, there are so many things to consider before undertaking a project like this. I found that it can be like pulling a thread… one thing leads to the next… things you have not even considered, whether it be drainage, lighting, plumbing (gas for a grill and water coming in and going out); electrical outlets, furniture, BBQ, shade, space and functionality – the list can be endless. Again, remember the term, “art project” if you’re a DYI’er.
First of all our yard is postage stamp sized – No football game or kicking the soccer ball around there. We tried to tend the landscaping that there when we purchased the home, but it either died or became over grown with weeds and ivy coming over the fence. We’ve tried to plant a garden, but it just does not get enough sun.
The water feature broke and we just stopped going out there except to dump food scraps into the compost. With a dog chasing squirrels, rats living in the ivy, and kids in Jr. High, we decided that we needed a 5th Space, or outdoor room – a place to host; an extension of our kitchen; an outdoor living area; a place where our kids and their friends would want to hang out. This, for us, has added tremendous value to our family’s life and to the value of our home. During our Christmas party we found a group of people sitting by the fire until late night … mission accomplished!
I only posted a handful of pictures – let me know if you are interested in seeing more, or any of the particulars of the concrete counters, or brew pub inspired metal fence, or what I choose cinder block over metal, etc.? I’m happy to share more pics or thoughts on construction, err, artwork.
In addition, check out this cool article from our friends over at Houzz.com – 30 Creative Backyard retreats. I do dream of a little office, or chill spot, or retreat in the backyard – maybe I will convert our garage/carriage house. These pictures get my juices flowing. How bout you? Which one is your favorite?
[See my backyard pics below]
Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900
Excavating and Forming base for cabinet
I managed to get a little help from my oldest
Got some free brick on Next Door
Used a pasta faucet, attached to a funky post I found in the alley. Built the forms for the counter tops, even thought it looks like I poured in place.
Grabbed the wood siding from someone down the street that was throwing it away
Drought tolerant lawn, errrrrr, fake grass!
Fence inspired by Moonraker brewery
View from our bedroom balcony… 9/10ths complete!
Dart boards are fun!