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We here at The Backyard Gnome always try to have our collective finger on the pulse when it comes to patios, and we enjoy knowing everything there is to know about how to get the best patio for your home that you can possibly get.
Times change quickly along with styles, and the number of patio styles that are out there requires time and energy to research them all. Of course, it helps to have a passion for these things, which, if you’re reading this, you surely must!
Naturally, if you’re in a position where you’re going to be purchasing a brand new home, or are moving, and you have patios on your mind, one major consideration will then be how the backyard is laid out.
We are talking here in terms of size, shape, the lay of the land, vegetation, and not to mention year-round climate, proximity (and personality) of neighbours, and all manner of factors that will potentially be deal makers or breakers on whether the home you are looking to purchase and / or renovate is the one for you.
Because if the dream backyard patio you’ve been planning in your head isn’t going to work, chances are you’re not going to choose that home and it’s a no-go.
Choosing A Home for Patio Appeal with WRX Property Group
In this article, we turn to WRX Property Group, a real estate company based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, to ask them their opinions on how to pick a home that’s going to have, at the very least, the potential to have a great patio, vs. a home that won’t and likely never will.
WRX has been in touch with us over the years, and, at our request, they keep us in the know of trending in the home market in Canada, because they’ve seen residential homes with some spectacular patios, and so they are aware of trends that even we aren’t aware of.
But that just goes with the territory of looking at multiple homes a day, every day, and sussing out their value in terms of, for one thing – patio potential.
So, we finally got the opportunity to ask them a few burning question we have when it comes to homes and patios, which we think you will enjoy.
Enjoy our little Q&A with WRX Property Group!
What types of homes lend themselves to the best patios?
The homes that lend themselves to the best patios are homes with large back yards. In order to have a nice patio, you need space, and if your yard is too small, you’ll either end up with a tiny patio, or your backyard will be all patio, and neither of those lend themselves to having the “best” patio.
On the other hand, homes that have a lot of space to work with in the backyard give you flexibility in types of patios you want to build, and they allow you enough room to have a luxurious patio and room in your backyard.
When I say bigger, in terms of actual lot dimensions, you’re looking to have your yard be at least 120 feet deep (depending on the placement of your home on the yard).
I would assume someone looking for their ideal patio might want it to be an oasis of sorts, and would prefer having greenery in the backyard.
Bigger backyards allow you to have room to get a nice garden going, some bigger trees for privacy, and perhaps even room for a nice fire pit.
When you put those aspects together you’re looking at a pretty solid backyard oasis with, in all likelihood, the nicest patio on the street.
What decks have you seen out there on the market that people have make a home look nicer? Is there a specific kind that make a home look worse, or better?
When it comes to the type of deck, there’s a wide variety of options, and I wouldn’t say one makes the home look better over another. It really depends on the type of home you have, and the aesthetic that you are trying to achieve with your deck.
A mismatched aesthetic can ruin a perfectly good deck, while a carefully selected stain, and width of boards, that matches/complements the house can really make the backyard stand out and wow potential buyers.
On that same thought, not maintaining your deck, letting it get rotten or all weathered, makes the home look worse in a potential buyer’s eyes and can even make them question how well other aspects of the home have been maintained.
How does having a patio or deck affect home value?
Yes and no. It all depends on the kind of deck or patio. If it’s something that’s going to need repairs in the near future, then it can actually take away from the value of the home.
Potential buyers seeing the work that’s ahead of them might even not consider the home just because the extra work is a hassle for them. If the deck is new, or recently updated, this would definitely add value to the home.
Specifically for those buyers seeking out a home to buy that has a nice backyard where they can spend lots of time.
I would say not having a deck is better than having a deck that’s in desperate need of repair, but having a nice/new deck is better than having no deck.
Also, some home buyers come into a situation looking to “flip” a property, meaning they expect things to be wrong with it, such as a damaged deck, and they are intending to fix it, but they also expect a lower price for those types of homes with extended damage.
If you notice a neighbour has a huge patio or deck and seems to use them a lot, how does that factor in to the person you’re selling to? For instance, will that mean a noisier neighbour…etc.
That’s something that’s difficult to tell when you are visiting a home that’s for sale. Usually you will visit the home during hours that people aren’t using the deck.
One might assume that having a bigger deck means that the neighbour enjoys using it, but it doesn’t mean that they would necessarily be loud.
The state of the deck, and how clean it is, would be a better indicator of how rowdy the neighbours might get. If there are empty beer cans everywhere, and cigarette butts lying around, then you might assume they like to get rowdy and party it up.
If the deck is clean and well maintained, then you might assume that they enjoy sitting outside quietly and sipping tea or reading a book. Depending on who the buyer client is they might see either option as positive or negative.
If they themselves enjoy socializing and partying it would be a benefit that the neighbours are the same, and they wouldn’t enjoy having quiet neighbours. It’s something I would discuss with my client before making an offer on the property.
What backyard features (ie. hills, even ground) have you seen that lend to the best patios?
Even ground is definitely best for patios. Having hilly or uneven ground would require extra structural support and all sorts of other headaches. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it’s not ideal.
Again, it all comes back to being aware of what the prospective buyer wants, and having the forethought and transparency to tell them about things like this.
For instance, if the backyard is sloped in an odd way, and they aren’t handy, but are expressing an interest in building an elaborate patio, it could be my place as their real estate agent to at least mention that building the kind of patio they want, might be a little bit challenging. I don’t want someone to have the wrong idea about what they can get out of their property, if I can see a potential problem ahead, but at the same time, some folks might see a sloped backyard as an opportunity, not a challenge.
If the buyer has a big budget and big plans, but also knows what they want to do, then there’s no problem. There are a lot of factors that come into play here, and I just try to do my best as an agent to keep people in the know and try to add give my take on any given scenario, when I feel it’s appropriate.
Is there a backyard feature that will ruin things for the homeowner who wants to add a pool, patio, or deck? (ie. you back up onto a swamp or something)
Yeah, backing onto a swamp will definitely ruin the fun of you backyard- unless you love mosquitos. Some backyard are placed in such a way that all the neighbours have a clear view into your yard, which takes away privacy.
If that’s something the buyer is concerned about, which most people are to some extent, then being in a location where you’re at the bottom of a hill and everyone can see you can ruin your dream backyard.
Backing onto a busy road can be quite annoying too, the constant humming of traffic zipping by would take away from the serenity of your backyard oasis.
Is there a size of home or condo that doesn’t really lend to having a good patio?
It would probably be weird to have a huge patio and a tiny house, like having the patio extend past both sides of your small home, but as long as you have the space for it you can do it. The size of your lot would be a bigger factor than the size of your home.
That said, like anything else, just because something is small, like a patio, doesn’t mean it can’t “work”. Lots of people have situations where their patio might be tiny, but they know exactly what they want to do with it.
There are many small patios out there that I’ve seen that work perfectly. In some ways, because of the size, a smaller patio can be easier to plan, as well.
What’s the most elaborate and luxurious patio you’ve seen?
There was a home that I was showing to one of my clients, it was a bit secluded and backed onto a forest.
They had a patio with a built-in fireplace, an automatic net that could be rolled down to keep mosquitos out, built-in BBQ, wall-mounted TVs with a surround sound system.
Their selection of patio stones was on point too, really matched the home. You could be out there almost any time of the year, and there were no neighbours around to disturb the peace either.
I’ve also seen some awesome multi level deck/patio combos as well. I’m really more of a fan of how the patio integrates with the overall look of the home, and I marvel sometimes at peoples’ ingenuity when it comes to how they’ve set things up. I’m not necessarily impressed by sheer luxury. Utility plays a big part.
That said, I’m a fan of walkout basements for some reason. Typically, when a house has a walkout basement, the deck will be on the higher level and when you come down the stairs there’s a nice patio underneath.
Add a nice pool and you’ve got yourself a vacation resort in your own back yard.
Is there a type of material used on patios and or decks that just screams top quality?
Redwood and cedar are classic high quality deck materials. They’re naturally resistant to rotting, and boast rich colours. They look great, and they are a great quality of wood for a deck.
If you’re going for that classic deck feel then that’s what I would recommend. There are also lots of synthetic alternatives which are longer lasting and cheaper, but they definitely won’t have that fresh deck feel to them.
I’ve also seen a lot of people use tropical hardwoods. Those can look really nice and are extremely durable, but they can be difficult to work with due to their weight and density.
What other warning signs have you seen at a home that will indicate that the person selling doesn’t take care of their patio / deck, that you have to warn the buyer about?
Generally speaking, if a home hasn’t been maintained in other places, you can assume the deck/patio haven’t been maintained.
Old windows, leaky or old roof, not changing out the filters on your furnace, not cleaning your windows, are all signs that other aspects of the home have likely been neglected.
If the person selling can’t put in the effort to clean up their home before putting it up for sale, then they certainly haven’t done so when no one is looking.
This could be due to laziness, or perhaps age, or illness, preventing the person from being able to maintain a home. Maintaining a home takes quite a bit of work, and it’s an ongoing process.
Obviously if the deck looks like it’s rotten, falling apart, or has broken pieces, then you can assume it hasn’t been well maintained. You can also make judgements about other parts of the house based on how well the deck/patio are maintained.
If the owner hasn’t put in the effort to maintain their deck/patio, they probably haven’t put in the effort in other parts of the home as well.
Can you tell the difference between someone who built their own patio vs. having pros do it? I guess the same would apply to any element of a home, ie. roof, windows, etc. Can you tell when someone attempted to do it DIY style and hence de-valued their own home?
I would say that in almost all cases hiring a pro to do the work is worth the cost, unless you yourself are a skilled trades person. The average Joe probably shouldn’t attempt to do this kind of work because it really shows.
Doing any sort of work on a home, whether it’s patio, flooring, or windows, requires precision and skill. It’s really easy to spot a DIY project because there are gaps in the wood, things don’t quite properly align, and generally it sticks out as being half-assed.
When you hire a pro to do it, everything is smooth, all the connection points line up, all the cuts are precise, and it adds a lot more value to your home.
If you’re not a skilled trades person I would strongly recommend spending a bit of extra money and hiring a pro for the job, the return you’ll get will outweigh the money you would save by doing a poor job yourself.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out WRX’s blog here, as it has some great info on there such as their section on real estate tips.