Ideas for Using Your Outdoor Space Year-Round

Outdoor space in cooler weather

We partnered with Redfin to provide tips on how to make your outdoor space livable space year-round. Read the original Redfin article here!

If this pandemic has taught us one thing, as homeowners, it would be the importance of having a functional outdoor living space. And with temperatures dropping and days growing shorter and shorter we have to adapt our outdoor space if we want to continue using it. Whether it be adding a fire pit, sealing your deck, or installing a pergola we want to make sure you’re able to be outside all year long. That’s why we’ve reached out to the experts from Graniteville to Brookhaven to provide you with a few ideas for using your outdoor space year-round.

Be prepared for those harsh winter months

Back porch overlooking clean pool at sunsetMichigan winters can be brutal, but oh so beautiful. Adding a few simple accessories allows true Michiganders to enjoy their outdoor spaces all year long -even in the winter months. Hang insulated curtains and a couple of well-placed electric heaters from your pergola. Stoke up a portable propane-powered fire pit, or electric infrared patio heater and watch the snowfall from your cozy Jacuzzi hot tub. Anything is possible with a little imagination in Pure Michigan. Contact the pros at Homeowner Services of Michigan for a free, no-obligation consultation today! – Homeowner Services of Michigan

When the winter months begin to set in, it does not mean your backyard has to go into hibernation too. One way to utilize your backyard when the temperatures have fallen is by keeping the outdoors warm with a beautiful outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Another way to heat it up is by extending your patio with an enclosed roof or pergola. By adding one of these to your backyard, you will be sure to enjoy your outdoor space year-round. – Buresh Home Solutions Inc.

Stain and seal your decking

Deck that needs to be stained and sealed before the colder monthsWith a waterproof deck you double your outdoor patio space. Enjoy the deck above on those sunny days and put a hot tub in the dry, covered space beneath for those chilly days. – Fluid Floors

Need a few ways to make your already stained and sealed deck even better? A basket of throw blankets for crisp fall mornings, a patio heater and Edison lights for dark winter evenings, and a cushioned loveseat for summer afternoon naps. Your outdoor living space should be every bit as comfortable as your favorite recliner and invoke as much joy as your favorite holiday. – Stain & Seal Experts

Choose enhancements that introduce wildlife

I’ve found the most significant outdoor enhancements introduce wildlife into our otherwise sterile indoor worlds. Birdbaths and feeders, bluebird and owl boxes, native plants that attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, and even squirrel gymnastics courses can add hours of free entertainment. You would be amazed at the neighborhood critters who frequent a wildlife pond, even in a dense urban setting. Properly positioned in front of windows these nature magnets are enjoyed from indoors or out. – Healthy Building Science

Bring on the heat

Firepit for enjoying your backyard year-roundOne of the best ways to take full advantage of your existing outdoor space all year round in our opinion would be to start with a heating element, either a freestanding or built in wood burning fire pit. They provide warmth, they are inviting and great for snores and conversations. The second would probably be weatherproof furniture, having a comfy space to sit around the fire pit is a must. Third would be a roofed pergola for the rainy months, now it’s not really recommended to put a wood-burning fire pit under a wood structure like that, but you could do low profile gas freestanding/built-in fire pit or soffit heaters. You can custom build the pergola or you can buy them in prefab kits depending on your budget requirements. – Vertical Construction Group LLC

If there’s one thing that will solve all of your outdoor living space woes, it’s a fire. There’s no longer the excuse that “it’s too cold outside”. In fact, you don’t even need to engage in that argument anymore. You simply go outside, light your gas fire feature, and watch as everyone begins to congregate around the warm, golden ambiance. – Montana Fire Pits

Think cover

Done right, installing a sunroom creates outdoor space that can be used all year. Throw in some patio furniture and twinkle lights and the stage is set for many wonderful evenings. You may never want to go back inside! With so many different sunroom designs out there you are only limited to your own imagination! Do your research, make a list of “must-haves” and establish a budget. You can install a sunroom without breaking the bank. Not only will it add value to your home, but it may also become your very own sanctuary! Oh, and added bonus… you never have to store your patio furniture again. – Patio Furniture Co

If you are looking for a great way to extend your living space 3-4 seasons you can window in or enclose the space under your patio cover or waterproof deck.  This is a great way to cook, entertain, watch games, and still enjoy the mild weather that we have in the PNW.  Outdoor roof structures, patio covers, under decking, and waterproof decks are all options to give you cover this time of year. – USI West Coast

Winter doesn’t have to force you to abandon your outdoor spaces. With a durable, easy-to-use patio system from Southern Patio Enclosures, you can continue to use your deck, porch, patio, or gazebo all year long. When you lower your patio enclosures, you will immediately notice a ten-degree temperature difference in your outdoor space. On days when the bite in the air is just too much, simply add a few energy-efficient space heaters and enjoy a cozy, comfortable space with beautiful views throughout even the coldest winter months. – Southern Patio Enclosures

Meld your indoor and outdoor space 

Indoor seating that opens into outdoor spaceTake the SoCal approach and break down the walls between the indoor and outdoor by installing a panoramic sliding door. These doors come in a variety of finishes and sizes and are thermally efficient so you don’t lose precious heat from your home during the colder months. When it warms up, open your home and let the fresh breeze in. We have had great feedback, families have told us they notice an increase in how much they use their exterior space after installation and there is a more open feel to the home overall. – Advanced Builders & Contractors LA

Integrate fun and creative lighting elements

One way to enjoy your outdoor living space year-round, even in the cooler months, is by stringing up twinkle lights around or above your pool. This produces double the glow from the lights reflecting off of the water. You can utilize whatever surface is nearby to string lights from, whether draping from tree to tree or along fence posts. Twinkle lights are an easy way to add a cozy ambiance to any backyard. Combine with a mug of mulled cider and a fluffy blanket, and you’re in business! – Pool Scouts

Add modern style and relax well after sunset with the European-designed outdoor lighting collection from Curran. Solar power, rechargeable, and candle-lit designs from brands like Gloster (United Kingdom), Royal Botania (Belgium), and Point (Spain) are available in a range of styles and sizes. – Curran

Invest in proper outdoor furniture

Outdoor couch and chair for entertainingOne of the most important aspects of a year-round and well-designed outdoor living space is the furniture. With the exposure to the elements, not selecting furniture that is suitable for outdoor spaces and those that provide longevity are some of the most common mistakes homeowners make when crafting their outdoor space. You’ll want to stay away from bare metals and materials such as wrought iron as they will rust. Some great options for outdoor materials include polyethylene wicker, teak, and aluminum. Similarly, the cushions you choose are important, with Sunbrella being the go-to option due to the fact that they’re very simple to clean, UV protected, and fade-resistant. Other ways to quickly make your outdoor space functional in the winter are to invest in outdoor cushion covers, patio storage, and candelabras for lighting fixtures that are charming and inexpensive. – Portable fireplace

Incorporate activities you can enjoy year-round

Install an outdoor telescope or a viewing deck to mount a telescope.  Sometimes, it helps to be reminded that we are a small speck in the universe.  Having an outdoor telescope feeds curious minds and provides a limitless opportunity for exploration for all members of the family.  From spotting the International Space Station to counting the craters of the moon, there will always be something unique and new in outer space. – VIATechnik

Relax with calming water features

Nowadays relaxation and a stress-free environment are near impossible to achieve. I firmly believe that in order to have a place to relax, after a long mask-wearing day at work, and a place where the feeling of stress is washed away, would be in your own outdoor living space. All you need to do is either DIY or hire a pro to create and install a pondless, cascading waterfall of natural stone to achieve a very calming sound of flowing water as if you were in the mountains fishing from a natural stream. – Calvin’s Irrigation & Handyman Services

Originally published on Redfin


Will a Pool Increase the Value of Your Rental Property?

Swimming pool in backyard

Owners of rental properties are always on the lookout for that extra feature to give their property an edge in today’s fiercely competitive rental market. And when all landlords are doing the usual upgrades, like repainting and landscaping, some property owners may be forced to contemplate unusual property upgrades. One idea to consider is adding a swimming pool to your rental property.

But is it really a good idea to add a swimming pool to a rental property? Is there any guarantee that this upgrade will improve the value of the property and lead to higher quality tenants?

The idea of having a water feature within the premises sounds nice to both the landlord and tenants. Adding a swimming pool can be a huge attraction if properly done. However, unlike some other property upgrades, swimming pools require a ton of maintenance. Rule number 1: it is far better for the home to have no pool at all than to have one that is not properly managed.

Pink swimming pool float in clear pool on sunny day

Before installing a pool on your property, there are several things to think about. A swimming pool can have serious implications for the health and safety of the people on the property. It can also significantly inflate the maintenance cost of the rental. And it will complicate the landlord’s insurance policy due to the increased possibility of personal liability.

Before implementing a swimming pool in your rental property, you must fully understand the pros and cons of the decision. Here are some things to think about when asking whether or not a swimming pool will be a good addition to your rental home!

Pros of adding a pool to your rental

Pool lounge chairs and umbrella next to pool

A swimming pool will make your rental feel more luxurious, increase its level of comfort, and attract tenants who can pay higher rents. Some specific benefits you can derive from these additions are:

  • Happier tenants: A swimming pool definitely makes tenants happier because it provides a place where they can relax. Happier tenants treat your property better and will usually have a better relationship with one another and the landlord – win, win! Swimming pools also serve as a communal meeting place and tenants who are used to having this facility will find it hard to move away from the home. Thus, tenants are more likely to stay in your rental long-term.
  • Higher rents: A swimming pool means luxury and additional comfort. But these extra benefits come at a cost; landlords have to maintain the pools and recoup the cost of building it. Tenants who want to live in a rental property with a pool recognize this and are prepared to pay higher rents for this additional comfort. Thus, as Lonnie Bush Management points out, a rental property with a swimming pool often attracts higher quality tenants who are able to pay the higher rents that the property owner ultimately will need to charge.
  • Better ambiance and improved tenant health: Any type of water feature makes a property more alluring. And when that feature is a swimming pool, it is doubly attractive! Additionally, the proximity of the pool will make it easier for tenants to use the facility regularly. This results in tenants who are in overall healthier, from both a physical and emotional perspective. When tenants feel this way, the rental becomes a proxy home to them and in turn, the landlord’s rental business enjoys more stability.

Cons of adding a pool to your rental

Clean swimming pool in a beautiful, bright backyard

  • Swimming pools come with increased liability: The number one reason not to add a swimming pool to your rental property is because of the increased possibility of legal claims against you. Along with the potential of drowning, there is a constant risk of injuries from slips and falls.

Tenants, visitors, pets, and strangers who enter the premises are all at risk. Insurance companies recognize this threat and for that reason charge exorbitant premiums for rental properties with a swimming pool.

  • Pool maintenance is costly: Maintaining a swimming pool is a lot of work and can cost hundreds of dollars every month. To keep the water clean and safe, there is a need to filter it, add pool chemicals, and change the water regularly. That’s why it’s important to employ professionals like Pool Scouts to do the work.

This investment in maintenance is in addition to money spent on heating and keeping pool walls, floor, equipment, and surrounding areas in good shape. A pool that is not properly maintained will quickly become an eyesore. Instead of attracting people, it will put them off. Nobody wants that!

  • A pool is a financial risk: Spending $20,000-$30,000 to install a pool in your rental is a huge risk since you do not know if and when you will recoup the cost. This is especially pertinent as the swimming pool (and associated higher rents) naturally shrinks the number of prospective tenants you can market your property to.

Some tenants do not want to live in a home with a pool, even if they can afford it. And others are simply unable to afford the higher rents you will charge. This means that a swimming pool restricts you to a narrower segment of the market.

So, will a pool increase the value of your rental property? The answer depends on your marketing of the property and planned maintenance of the pool. Do you have enough space for such an addition? Are you prepared for the associated risks and costs that come with building and maintaining a swimming pool? Hopefully this article will help you make that decision. And for all of your pool care and maintenance needs, be sure to call Pool Scouts at 844-775-2742.