Maybe the concept of loading up the kids and jamming cottage supplies into the trunk of the car and crawling through long-weekend traffic is appealing to you. Then again, maybe a relaxing recline in a Muskoka chair with, cold drink in hand, while a gentle breeze blows through your newly-renovated backyard, is your idea of the perfect staycation. If so, why not forego the vacation, create your own slice of paradise with backyard renos and inject some equity into your home while you’re at it.
Build Your Own Fun - And Equity!
“There are so many amazing, beautiful and functional concepts being undertaken in backyards,” says Samuel Lapidus, President of Keystone Ridge Developments Ltd. “People are looking for an oasis at home that they can in essence vacation to on a daily basis and share with friends.”
Depending on your budget, the space you have at your disposal and the pre-existing structures, you can do pretty much anything, so long as it falls within municipal bylaws (no Ferris wheels, for example).
Trendy upgrades include vast decks and patios built with outdoor fireplaces and full kitchens and fun water features.
A simple outdoor kitchen with a good grill and 7-foot countertop costs around $3,500. If you feel like splurging, you can even add a sink and bar fridge.
Then there are hot tubs, a pool, rock gardens with water fountains tucked in amongst exotic shrubbery – the sky is the limits. “(There’s) a trend towards incredible landscaping that may include native species and re-grading to create separate spaces,” adds Lapidus.
And the cherry on top - home buyers are willing to pay more for a house that has landscaping.
DIY or Hire Out?
So you’ve dreamed up the perfect little backyard sanctuary - what’s next?
“Other than a simple change in landscaping or planting material, almost all changes in a front, rear or side yard should be done in consultation with the municipality's building department to see what requirements and zoning bylaws may be affected,” says Lapidus.
If you need permission or a permit from the municipality, it might be wise to consult a pro – be it a designer, engineer, architect or contractor.
“These professionals will ensure sound design and execution of concept that will leave the homeowner with a finished product that they can soundly enjoy for years to come,” he says. “And when it comes to selling the property, the documentation that will ensure the prospective home buyer of a sound investment.”
There’s plenty you can do on your own but it’s important you consult the municipality before you make any hefty upgrades or you might find yourself paying someone to rip down that stone-wall you spent the weekend cementing.
Don’t Get Taken for a Ride
By now you’re probably running through the numbers and maybe thinking the stuffed car and traffic jams might be worth it. Keep in mind, there’s plenty of options and plenty of quality contractors with competitive rates.
Lapidus says word-of-mouth is one of the most common ways to find the right contractor for the job.
“The internet offers a number of resources for discovering reputable professionals and learning from other homeowners their level of satisfaction with the work,” he says adding that programs like RenoMark and Building Industry and Land Development websites are the most reputable sources to find a professional.
“These sites are the building and construction industries most prestigious organizations and only professionals that are held up to their specific industries highest standards can be found there,” he says.
If you budget and make a plan before taking on any work, you can structure your backyard into a mini-resort for less than $25,000.
Paradise may be just a few steps away.