Outdoor Rooms Rank High on Consumer Lists

While laundry rooms still rank the highest in essential features for new homes, the desire for more outdoor living space is not far behind. According to research from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a front porch ranks fifth, rear deck sixth and rear patio and fenced yard tenth and eleventh on the “must have” list of design and other features that influence new home purchasing decisions. 

Further, a recent survey from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) revealed that consumers across the country are spending more time at home and more time living in outdoor “rooms.” Based in Washington, D.C., the PERC is a member of the National Council of the Housing Industry (NCHI) — the Supplier 100 of NAHB.

“Building or renovating outdoor rooms illustrates our need to relax and reconnect with family and friends,” said Martha Baker, best-selling author of The Outdoor Living Room: Stylish Ideas for Porches, Patios and Pools. “Outdoor rooms increase our quality of life while also increasing a home’s value.

Among the PERC survey results:

•    Half of all American homeowners (50 percent) said that they are spending more time at home than they were five years ago. 
•    Eighty percent said it is important to have an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. 
•    Thirty-five percent said they had a finished outdoor room, and 34 percent said they were planning to design one in the next one to two years. 
•    Homeowners identified as their most important reasons for adding or remodeling an outdoor room: creating a space to relax (89 percent); spending more time outside (87 percent); adding value to a home (79 percent); extending a home’s living space (78 percent); and creating a space to entertain (74 percent). 
•    In outfitting an outdoor room, most homeowners said that they were likely to include: outdoor lighting units (94 percent); a gas grill (86 percent); mosquito eliminators (79 percent); an outdoor fireplace or pit (67 percent); and patio heaters (53 percent).

Of the roughly $200 billion U.S. home owners spent on remodeling and renovation in 2004, a third was allocated to outdoor amenities, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, which is also an NCHI member.

Citing findings that well-designed outdoor spaces return more than 100 percent of their cost when a home is sold, the association recommends these five products:

•    Commercial-style grills. About 65 percent of grill owners use propane. The grills heat up and cool down quickly, making them safe and efficient, and there is no ash or dust. 
•    Gas hearths offer a cozy touch and are easy to install. They include a range of fireplaces, gas logs and gas campfires. 
•    Propane patio heaters extend the use of an outdoor room into the cooler months. Most models include adjustable temperature controls and safety features, and many are equipped with lights. 
•    Propane outdoor lighting fixtures and lamps are available in portable, wall-mounted and post-mounted styles, and are easy to use in remote locations such as outdoor rooms. 
•    Mosquito eliminators can protect up to an acre of land from these insects.

Before you start any remodeling project to create an inviting and relaxing outdoor living space, NAHB recommends that you do some research and hire a licensed, professional remodeler. Contact HBA of Greater Lansing for a list of remodelers in your area.