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Letting the outdoors in

by Debra Gelbart on Mar 6, 2018

More than ever, new-home buyers want to maximize indoor/outdoor living, often seamlessly blending inside living space with the backyard patio or an interior courtyard. 

"Buyers are looking for the ability to blend the comforts of the interior with the openness that patio spaces provide," said Dustin Jewell, a manager with David Weekley Homes. “By ensuring that the outdoor living space is located close to the kitchen, homeowners can entertain more easily, enhancing the overall ownership experience.” 

"Our Reserves communities in Gilbert and Peoria feature a fusion of indoor and outdoor spaces,” said Ken Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing for Shea Homes Arizona. He said another Shea Homes community, Latitude at Cantilena in Peoria, “has some truly jaw-dropping outdoor living spaces featuring oversize patios, putting greens, outdoor kitchens and bars, poolside cabanas, ramadas, sparkling pools and swim-up bars.” 

Beautiful weather nearly year-round

"The weather in Arizona provides a unique opportunity for homebuyers,” said Hal Looney, Arizona area president of Shea Homes Lifestyle Communities, which develops Trilogy communities across the Valley. “While we design every home with indoor-outdoor living in mind, we’re finding a lot of focus is heading toward the backyard. This is chiefly because the backyard can be enjoyed for far longer in Arizona’s favorable weather and appreciated as an additional place to relax or entertain.” 

Amenity-rich alfresco living areas

Looney pointed out that in more than 60 percent of Trilogy’s homes built since January 2017, buyers have opted for floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors to connect the indoor living space seamlessly to an outdoor covered oasis. 

"We added extended patios that flow right off our great room and kitchen into our backyards,” said Ivy Coppo, a sales counselor with the Blandford Homes community The Estates at 32nd Street in Mesa. She said Blandford also offers front courtyards, walls of glass and a “one-of-a-kind RV garage with an attached cabana that is unique in our Arizona market.” Many buyers, she said, are converting their 20X50 RV garage into a huge game room situated in their backyard where they can play pool or bocce ball or enjoy other sports. “This space has been a buyer’s dream,” she said. “The covered cabana offers a built-in outdoor kitchen, barbecue, ice chest and great seating for guests." 

"All of our homes are build with a covered patio," Looney [of Shea Homes Lifestyle Communities] said, “but we are seeing buyers expand the patios further into the yard and incorporating fireplaces, wet bars and grills with nearby seating and table areas.” Some buyers, he said, even add a stargazing deck.

"We are pushing the envelope by integrating the latest and boldest window systems," Jewell [of David Weekely Homes] said, “such as our 90-degree wall of glass that allows for an easier transition from the living room to the patio.” 

Maximizing usage of outdoor space

"In some of our home plans, buyers can enjoy a front courtyard with a fireplace that’s partially covered and side courtyards where we’ve seen buyers install putting greens, an outdoor nook for reading or gardens,” Looney said. 

Courtyards add expanded living space, “giving your family more room to spread out and providing multiple entertaining spaces for kids and adults,” Peterson [of Shea Homes Arizona] said. “With the right furniture, a fireplace and a stocked bar, you’ll find plenty of reasons to enjoy the great outdoors year-round.” 

If you like to entertain, casitas, ramadas and cabanas are great ways to transform your backyard into the ideal party spot, Peterson said, adding: “Throw in a flatscreen TV or two and you can alternate between watching the big game and cooling off with a dip in the pool. Why should you have to drive to a golf course to improve your game? With a backyard putting green, you can work on your stroke any time the urge strikes. Sport courts provide plenty of opportunities for exercise, family bonding and memories to last a lifetime. The new surfaces used today provide both safety and  comfort for players of all ages. And an outdoor kitchen lets the chef mix and mingle without missing a beat."

Best time to add extra features

Some homebuyers may wonder whether it’s a good idea to wait to add features to the backyard and patio until after they settle into their new home.

"Working with the team during the building process is absolutely more efficient for time, planning and cost,” Looney noted. “The process is done once you move in and there’s no need to worry about the mess, scheduling or finding companies to do the project. Completing the outdoor features during your building process allows for better coordination because it’s overseen and managed by the (homebuilder), so you continue to have a clear point of contact.”

"Many buyers struggle with the vision for their backyard and how their indoor and outdoor living will look and feel,” Coppo [of Blandford Homes] said. “There is a benefit to buyers tackling all of these things during the home-construction process. Buyers are already in the mindset to select colors, styles and finishes. Utilizing the builder’s professionals is a huge benefit to buyers. An additional benefit is being able to include these costs in your mortgage.” 

Jewell said that as buyers weigh which options they should invest in for their home, "they should look at the items that would involve extensive structural remodeling and if possible, commit to those during the homebuilding process.”

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