THE BLOG
06/06/2013 03:09 pm ET Updated Aug 06, 2013

A Guide To Renovating Your Outdoor Space

If you're thinking about sprucing up your patio or landscape now that warm weather is on the way, you're not alone. According to a recent survey by Houzz, 18 percent of U.S. homeowners plan a patio or landscape addition or replacement in the next two years.

As with any renovation project, it's important to plan ahead so that you can enjoy your space throughout the season, without the guilt of spending more than you wanted.

What can you expect to spend?

Over the past five years, U.S. homeowners spent an average of $10,646 on their patio or landscape projects. The average for high-end projects, which accounted for 19 percent of those completed, was $31,152, while homeowners spent an average of $8,349 for mid-range and $12,624 for lower-budget projects. Spending varied widely by market, with homeowners in the Washington, DC area spending the most for a high-end patio or landscape remodel at $74,500 on average, and those in New Orleans, Louisiana spending the least with an average of $11,154 for high-end projects. Regionally, those in the West spent the most on their outdoor space - an average of $37,363 for high-end projects - and those in the Midwest the least at $26,714.

Getting started

Are you a gardner? Do you like to entertain outside? Do you have kids or pets that need a special place to play? All of these factors should be considered when coming up with a plan for your landscape or patio remodel. For landscapes specifically, you should also consider the time and resources needed for maintaining your yard. If you're not a gardener but want a high-maintenance landscape, be prepared to hire a professional maintenance company to handle the upkeep.

Before digging up your yard you should also think about your design style. To match the outside with the inside, bring some of the same indoor architectural and interior design details -- for example square shapes, or a specific stone, or the color red -- to your outdoor plans.

Know your parameters

It's easy to lose yourself in the details once you start picturing your outdoor oasis but understanding the parameters you have to work within will save you time and money later. When it comes to your budget, consider how much you are willing to spend on your remodel. Does this take into account any ongoing, professional maintenance you might need? As with any renovation project, don't neglect to account for all the pieces of your project and the unexpected costs that may crop up when you start. Avoid scope creep by sticking to your original plan as much as possible; it's easy to lose track of how all the add-ons (such as an outdoor fire-pit) will impact your budget.

Depending on where you live, you may have homeowner association rules and regulations to consider, such as fence styles or paint colors. Zoning and building codes can really vary by city, state or even neighborhood, and safety should be a particular concern. Be sure you are complying with requirements for elements like deck railing or a fence that faces the street.

Find the right pro

Unless you plan to do-it-yourself, you may consider hiring a design or construction professional to help with your patio or landscape remodel. Twenty-one percent of U.S. homeowners, for example, plan to hire a landscape architect or designer to help with their project. Understanding the different types of professionals and what they do will help you choose the right one to execute your vision. There are more than 10,000 landscape architects, landscape designers and landscape contractors on Houzz alone, each with different skills. Once you determine the kind of help you need:

  • Have your budget ready so that you can share it with the pro up front. This can help a pro suggest creative solutions that will maximize your budget (and avoid developing plans that would later have to be tossed).
  • Confirm that every pro you consider is licensed for the certification requirements that are required for your project and your area.
  • Narrow down your search to a few finalists, get references for each and be sure to follow up on them.

With some advanced and thoughtful planning, a patio or landscape remodel can be both fun and productive -- and completed in time for that first summer BBQ.

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