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“The key is to make outdoor space feel as if you’re still indoors,” says Dan Coletti, president of Sun West Custom Homes, in Las Vegas. (Photo: courtesy Sun West Custom Homes)
This article first appeared in the July 2019 issue of Pro Builder.

Find a new home without a patio and I’ll show you an unsold house. That’s how “must-have” a slab of concrete outside the back door is to homebuyers, according to recent NAHB consumer research.

Beyond that, the picture gets muddier. More extensive and amenity-rich outdoor living spaces may appear appealing, but a decreasing number of home shoppers “must have” a rear porch, built-in grill, outdoor fireplace, or fully outfitted outdoor kitchen. Those sentiments can vary widely by age, race, and household type (young families prefer an outdoor kitchen, for instance), so the smart course calls for listening to your buyers before plotting anything beyond a patio or deck.

If your due diligence concludes that a more extensive multifunction outdoor living space will return its investment, the next step is to design one that homeowners will actually use—ideally year-round and often.

While pouring a patio is relatively simple, creating a useful and beautiful outdoor living space is high art, with truisms and tactics that deliver lasting value. Miss the mark and you’ve wasted valuable land and money; hit it right and you’ve likely delivered the convenience, comfort, and privacy buyers desire from their outdoor areas.

The projects pictured here are, for the most part, at the high end of the market, but the outdoor living features they include teach valuable lessons across housing types, price points, and even geography about: providing seamless transitions from indoors to out—including lighting, flooring, and fenestration; the variety and proximity of outdoor functions; and the delicate balance between entertainment space and privacy.

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Access a PDF of this article in Professional Builder's July 2019 digital edition