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The Upside of Offering More Upgrades…

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Upgrades

Homebuyers want them and are willing to pay extra to get them. Lately, many homebuyers are beginning to look for builders that provide an extensive selection of upgrade options ranging from granite countertops to all-natural western red cedar decking. Builders who turn their backs on these upgrade requests are missing out on opportunities to increase profits and customer satisfaction.

So what are the latest upgrades resonating with the wants and needs of today’s buyers? Hectic lifestyles have led to homes built to feel larger than they are, taking advantage of every usable square foot of the lot. One of the best ways for builders to cost-effectively maximize the entire lot is to provide options for outdoor living spaces, complete with aesthetic add-ons like window boxes and built-in seating, to complete outdoor rooms, covered dining room areas and full outdoor kitchens.

William Lyon Homes is including outdoor living spaces in homes across its pricing points. Along with fireplace areas, these outdoor space upgrades feature an attached cabana just off the dining room that can be used year-round.

“There are many opportunities for the builder to upgrade outdoor living spaces for the homebuyer,” says Peter Lang, general manager from the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. “A standard-model concrete patio slab can be upgraded by offering an all-natural deck made from western red cedar, including additional upgrades like matching furniture and built-in seating.”

Below are a few considerations to remember when offering outdoor living space upgrades to your prospective buyers:

Decking materials

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Turning the backyard into an outdoor living space is one of the most common requests from homebuyers looking to upgrade. One great way to make a seamless transition between the indoors and outdoors is by incorporating a decking material that gives the impression it is an extension of the room inside. This can be done through the right material selection.

While a number of imitation wood products have hit the market in recent years, all-natural western red cedar remains a revered and affordable decking material option. While new governmental regulations are raising prices on treated wood, naturally durable woods like western red cedar are cost competitive to non-wood alternatives and offer a timeless beauty that is not found in composite or plastic materials.

“Many people choose western red cedar due to its aesthetic appeal and physical properties,” adds Lang. “For centuries, cedar has been known for its exceptional beauty, versatility and longevity. Cedar brings an exceptional all-natural look, durability and character to outdoor spaces.”

Layout

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In addition to offering different decking material upgrades, consider offering different sizes and layout packages. Many homebuyers like taking advantage of the outdoor experience, usually achieved with a larger deck, whereas other homebuyers may prefer a simpler setting.

Consider offering different modular decking “areas” by activity – a grilling area, hot tub area or perhaps a sitting area zone – then plugging in each module per the homebuyer’s selection. You may want to consider giving each area its own level, as a few steps up or down gives the allusion of expansiveness and privacy – factors many homebuyers want and appreciate.

Be mindful of the deck usability when designing these modular areas. For example, grilling areas should be close to the kitchen so you’re not shuttling things back and forth more than necessary. If you want to include a conversation area with a warm fireplace for people to gather, make sure you will have enough room to move around safely and comfortably.

Built-in Decorating

Built-in benches add both style and function to outdoor living spaces; a cedar bench along a stretch of deck with an unobstructed view is particularly pleasant and brings in the warmth of the deck into the furniture. Since cedar is naturally durable and safe for both the environment and people, creating a unified look between your indoor space and the outdoor surroundings is easy, practical and will demand a premium from more-discriminating homebuyers.

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A unique and practical decoration method is to change the deck board direction; an angle change or unique board pattern provides a subtle beautification. “Many homebuyers are requesting distinctive board designs lately. One of the most requested is an octagon inlay underneath a cedar table,” according to Tim Meisch, owner of Custom Cedar Decks in Mill Creek, Washington. “It’s so unique, people often mistake it for a decorative rug.”

Additionally, incorporate nature into the decking area by adding a cedar planter box at select locations. These stylish boxes are simple to build and can dress up the outdoor living space when filled with colorful flowers, herbs, vegetables, etc. And these simple decoration-enhancing projects can be outsourced to subcontractors to maximize time and profitability.

Inserting a few stylistic, outdoor living enhancements adds to the overall appeal of the outdoor living space thus differentiating it, and the home, from the competition.