Getting The Most Out of Outdoor Spaces Takes Proper Planning

When thinking about turning your backyard into an outdoor oasis, here are a few ideas to consider before you start calling contractors.

First, clarify what you expect to accomplish.

Are you looking to add a basic outdoor grilling center with a beverage refrigerator and a beer tap? Or are you looking to create an outdoor living structure with a chef’s kitchen, alfresco dining space, cozy fireplace, well-appointed bar, resort-style pool, and new landscaping? 

Adding a grilling center is reasonably easy to plan and certainly more budget-friendly than an outdoor living space. 

If you envision creating an outdoor space as an extension of your house, you’ll need to engage a builder and architect with extensive knowledge and experience in these complex projects.

If a new pool and landscape are part of the reimagined outdoor oasis, it’s critical for the pool builder and landscape designer to be part of the team early in the process. 

Having a realistic budget and timeline for designing and constructing your project is essential. Nobody wins when you invest significant time and money planning your new outdoor space only to discover the project cost is considerably beyond your budget. A seasoned builder can provide you with expected budget ranges and timelines for your project. 

A trend we are seeing is the desire to add features that extend the use and functionality of outdoor spaces in all seasons.

Texas’ extreme summer heat can make entertaining outside unbearable without adequate air circulation and integrated cooling systems. 

Those pesky insects can also put a damper on outdoor enjoyment, so you might want to add automatic roller screens cleverly disguised into the new structure. 

Winter months can be cold without ample heating systems to make your outdoor space warm and cozy.

Incorporating these features requires a careful site evaluation of the existing utilities to ensure your home has the capacity to power and fuel the proposed equipment. 

Outdoor kitchens often include features similar to those found inside but with a caveat: Products used in outdoor spaces must be designed to perform in that environment. 

Cabinets are no exception to this rule and should be made of weather-resistant materials like stainless steel, PVC, or masonry. 

Audio, video, and lighting automation — all controlled by your phone or tablet — also play a significant role in outdoor spaces. 

There’s nothing like watching a ball game or listening to favorite music while setting light levels for entertainment or relaxation. 

The key to a successful space is proper planning. 

Sherry and Paul Zuch are partners with Alair Homes Dallas|Zuch, a building, remodeling, and renovating company. Visit

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