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Does the Size of Your Deck Really Matter?

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Kathy Fettke

Kathy Fettke

Share says that size really does matter these days – specifically, the size of your deck. (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

More and more people are wanting an outdoor lifestyle, and an over-sized deck can provide that – even in more wintery parts of the country. reports that the size of decks and patios is growing as people gravitate toward an indoor/outdoor design concept. They say the new outdoor open space corresponds to a trend for interiors that are less formal with fewer walls and also more open space. cites a home in Malibu, California where developer Crown Pointe Estates is selling a 14,000 square foot home with 10,000 square feet of decking. And the decks have plenty of amenities. One has an infinity-pool and two heated cabanas with TVs. Another deck off the master bedroom has a six-hole putting green. And then there’s the outdoor yoga and massage deck.

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The developer’s director of sales Scott Morris told, “If you don’t add that outdoor playground, you’re just getting it wrong.”

That’s in Malibu where you might expect to see health conscious sun worshippers spending a good amount of their time outside, on warm summer and winter nights. But this trend is heading into areas where there’s “snow” for a good part of the year.

The Pennsylvania-based luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers told that it just began offering options for luxury decks and patios in all 19 states where they build. That includes Colorado, Washington and Minnesota. The company had been previously offering those options in about half those areas.

The Toll Architecture design director told they are getting more requests for fancy outdoor spaces as homeowners become aware of design features that can shield them from stormy weather. Those features include glass walls, finely woven mesh screens, heated decking, and fire pits.

The American Institute of Architects conducted a survey of more than 500 residential-architectural firms on the demand for outdoor living space. The AIA says that 7 in 10 firms experienced an increased demand for outdoor living space and 6 in 10 said that homeowners are asking for “blended indoor/outdoor living”.

AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker also attributes this change to a shift away from formal living spaces.

Of course, as the deck gets larger with more bells and whistles, the price can skyrocket, especially for homes in colder climates. talks about a home in Montague, Michigan with expansive decking overlooking a lake. The homeowners say the roof deck is “spectacular” in the winter, and that it’s easy to maintain with a “snowblower”.

But these over-the-top fancy decks are not cheap. And when it comes to adding value to your home, they don’t seem to appreciate. In fact, you’ll probably lose money.

According to Remodeling magazine, the national average to build a typical 320 square foot deck was a little over $20,000 last year. Remodeling says a homeowner can expect to get about 75% of that amount back, if the home were to be sold.

The return on investment is even worse for upscale decks. Remodeling says the national average for the fancier 320 square foot deck was $38,000 and the ROI was just $22,000. That’s a 58% ROI.

Remodeling says the composite deck is one of “five” home improvement projects that reap the lowest ROIs. The other four projects are a mid-range bathroom addition, an upscale bathroom addition, an upscale master suite, and an upscale bathroom addition.

If you want to know what upgrade will get you the best ROI, you should add insulation to the attic. Remodeling says it more than paid for itself in 60 of the 100 markets it analyzed.

The magazine’s editor also says the ROI on any deck project can vary depending on the market so you’d need to look at specific areas if you are calculating the deck’s value.

Oh and by the way, that Malibu home I mentioned with the heated cabanas? says the homeowner also installed air-conditioning in an outside veranda…

Real estate investors obviously will want to keep costs down while still attracting long-term tenants. Fortunately, in most of the areas where buy & hold real estate investors can get the highest cash flow, lawns seem to grow on their own. No sprinkler systems are needed. Additionally, in many of these areas, residents aren’t accustomed to having fences. They are used to a more open lifestyle, which means lower costs to you.

That’s another reason why the South and Midwest can be better for your ROI. Join the network to get a list of the best areas to own rental properties and an introduction to R.E.A.L. Turnkey Property Providers in those markets.

Kathy Fettke
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