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Outdoor Kitchens & Living Rooms: Passing Fad or Good Investment?

Even though though Punxatawney Phil emerged from his burrow on February 2 only to look around and proclaim six more weeks of winter, spring is close enough for many homeowners to start planning for the outdoor grilling season.

Outdoor Home Addition

Expensive outdoor grills have been around for a long time, but now there are built-in patio grills with auxiliary burners, outdoor sinks and refrigerators, even sleek ice makers for the ultimate experience in convenience. The outdoor kitchen is frequently complemented by an adjacent dining area, bar or covered patio to become a true extension of living space.

A Selling Feature

When combined with pools and hot tubs, the backyard becomes additional square footage as well as an entertainment destination. Screened gazebos and backyard "follies" are a throwback to centuries past. Patio fireplaces and firepits are another emerging trend, high on homeowner wish lists. Putting greens and permanent sports courts were traditional backyard amenities, but they have given way to newer trends in many areas. Will the backyard become the new favorite room? 

It's not just residents of the Sunny Southwest, California and Florida who benefit from outdoor kitchens and outdoor living rooms. From Baltimore through the mid-Atlantic, moving activities outdoors is quite commonplace, no matter what form it takes. Big bucks are spent nationwide on these improvements. 

A 2015 survey found that 65 percent of those who employed professional help for outdoor projects spent more than $10,000; of those, 11 percent spent $75,000 or more. 

Is it Worth the Money?

It would seem so. According to the National Association of Realtors, "outdoor entertaining upgrades,"  anything from a deck addition to an extreme tree house, can add significant value to a home.

When entertaining amenities reinforce extensive landscaping, some results can bring a 100 percent return on investment, or even more, according to some experts. What is worth the cost depends to large extent, however, on where you live and what you do.

Some of the same rules apply to outdoor improvements that have become standard in evaluating interior remodels. Green and sustainable are good; recycled materials are even better. Think twice about spending your money on unnecessary features, but do consider lighting, outdoor speakers or even an outdoor television; fire pits extend seasonal use, and fountains are not only pretty but add soothing sounds. 

So far, it looks like outdoor living spaces will be popular and entertaining for some time. If you think this will be a good addition to your home, get some estimates and run the numbers to see if this is the right move for you!

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