Subscribe eNews Send Us Files Login

Hearth & Home May 2016

Outdoor kitchen by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

Survey of Builders – Outdoor Living

By Mike Beirne, Senior Edtior, Professional Builder

Outdoor living has come a long way from just a stark concrete slab with lawn chairs and a barbecue grill. Decks and patios are more elaborate, as color and material choices proliferate. Manufacturers are making more products that are maintenance-free and able to weather all climates, so today’s homebuyer can select from a roster of products that includes appliances, high-definition TVs, LED lighting on deck railings, water features, fire bowls, and even pizza ovens.

The movement to bring the indoors out has transformed backyards and sideyards into outdoor kitchens for cooking and dining, and outdoor living rooms for relaxing and entertaining. 

Outdoor living spaces were twice named the most popular special function room in the 2015 and 2014 design trends surveys of homeowners by the American Institute of Architects. Two-thirds of Professional Builder readers and members of Builder Partnerships, in Littleton, Colorado, who participated in the Outdoor Living poll, indicated that the space is more critical to selling a new home compared with three years ago, and 54 percent stated that they either have added or are considering expanding the outdoor options they offer their clients. 

More outdoor living insights from the building community are provided in the charts that follow.

Methodology & Respondent Information

This survey was distributed between February 24 and March 8, 2016, to a random sample of Professional Builder’s print and digital readers and to members of Builder Partnerships. No incentive was offered. By closing date, a total of 161 eligible readers returned completed surveys. Respondent breakdown by discipline: 27.3 percent custom home builder; 20.1 percent architect/designer engaged in home building; 16.2 percent production builder for move-up/move-down buyers; 11.7 percent diversified builder/remodeler; 4.5 percent luxury production builder; 3.9 percent production builder for first-time buyers; 1.9 percent multifamily; 1.3 percent manufactured, modular, log home, or systems builder; and 11.7 percent other. Approximately 38.4 percent of respondents sold one to five homes in 2015, and 12.5 percent sold more than 100 homes.


When it comes to selling new homes, how much more or less important is offering outdoor living features, compared with three years ago?

BASE: 149; 2016 PROFESSIONAL OUTDOOR LIVING SURVEY

The majority of builders and architects agree that outdoor living is an essential space to have for selling their product.


Has buyer demand for outdoor living features changed during the past 12 months?

BASE: 154; 2016 PROFESSIONAL OUTDOOR LIVING SURVEY

Of those participants who stated that buyer demand increased, 51 percent attributed the surge to clients wanting an inviting outdoor space for relaxing and entertaining. About 24 percent agreed that the availability of more and better quality appliances and kitchens specifically designed for outdoor entertainment spaces was the biggest factor, while 7.8 percent explained that the popularity was driven by outdoor spaces being cheaper to build than indoor spaces.

Less than four percent said the popularity of outdoor living was a result of the space having fewer zoning issues to contend with. Thirteen percent selected all of the above, and a California custom homes builder wrote that as houses get smaller, putting more emphasis on the outside helps the house live larger.


Which outdoor living features do you specify for your projects?

BASE: 145; 2016 PROFESSIONAL OUTDOOR LIVING SURVEY

Green grass is the standard feature that half of survey participants offer in their new homes. The largest percentage of builders and architects also provide decks, landscaping, lighting, patios made with stone or brick pavers, and fenced backyards with the base price of the home. Also in sync with the movement to bring the indoors outside: Almost 22 percent of respondents offer Internet connectivity with their standard package. As for upgrades, more than half of builders and architects polled offer a sunroom/screened porch as an option.

Other popular upgrades include wiring the outdoors for music and outdoor TV, fire pit or fireplace, outdoor structures such as a pergola, arbor, or loggia, and an outdoor kitchen with appliances. The most popular item that is not standard or a typical upgrade item but is provided if the client asks is a counter, followed by built-in seating and decorative water features.


Has your company expanded outdoor living options that are offered to clients in the past 12 months?

BASE: 161; 2016 PROFESSIONAL OUTDOOR LIVING SURVEY

The majority of respondents have either expanded the features they offer or are considering doing so.


Does your outdoor living design/feature package differentiate your product from the competition, and does it attract sales?

BASE: 151; 2016 PROFESSIONAL OUTDOOR LIVING SURVEY

Outdoor living space may merely be the price of entry for new construction, as only one-third of respondents indicated that their offering sets them apart from competitors.


Who does the landscape design for your projects?

BASE: 161; 2016 PROFESSIONAL OUTDOOR LIVING SURVEY

Who handles the landscaping installation on your projects?

BASE: 151; 2016 PROFESSIONAL OUTDOOR LIVING SURVEY

This article is reprinted from Professional Builder (April 2016) with permission from the Editorial Director.

More Industry Data

2018 October Business Climate

In early November, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare October 2018 sales to October 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 232 useable returns.

» Continue

2018 September Business Climate

In early October, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare September 2018 sales to September 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 2,003 useable returns.

» Continue

2018 August Business Climate

In early September, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare August 2018 sales to August 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 196 useable returns.

» Continue

2018 July Business Climate

In early August, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare July 2018 sales to July 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 193 useable returns.

» Continue