So, you want to create an outdoor living space to fit your lifestyle. Whether you want a fully appointed outdoor kitchen with ample seating for entertaining or a cozy, comfortable space to grill and dine al fresco with the family or a few close friends, you’ll need a budget first. How much you can, or are willing to, spend will help you make decisions so you can get the most for bang for your buck. Invest a little bit of time creating a realistic budget and your outdoor dreams can come true. Here are some things to consider.

How much space do you have?

It may have always been your dream to have a full kitchen, seating for 12, a fire or water feature and a full bar in your outdoor living space. But if you don’t have the room, and don’t plan to buy a new home, it’s not going to happen. On the other hand, do you have all the space anyone could wish for, but not the budget to go all out? Be realistic with what you have and don’t have, then decide what you want and can afford.

Make a wish list.

Now that you understand your available space, make a wish list of what features you’d like. Think big and bold, knowing that you’ll likely have to scale back to fit your budget. Prioritize your must-haves and would-like-to-haves.

Where can you save money and where will you have to pay a premium?

The very dynamics of what is already in place in your yard and on your house can either help you economize or will require you to pay more for complicated tie-ins or upgrades, and should be taken into account in your budget. For example, you can save on the surface if you already have concrete or pavers. You might to spruce it up with a treatment like stain or paint to match the rest of your desired look. But if you don’t already have a hard surface, it’s not big enough or you prefer something fancier, be prepared to add that to your budget. Don’t forget to factor in demolition costs if you’re having something existing removed.

Two or more story homes are easier and much less complicated for your contractor to tie-in the roof. If you’re tying in to a single story roof, be prepared for that extra cost. Do you have columns on your home? If yes, you will probably want them to match your outdoor finishes. Columns can be wrapped and painted your choice of color. You can upgrade with stained tongue and groove wood, or a stacked rock wrap, which look great. But be ready for that upgrade cost. And just as with columns, an existing overhead structure is probably a standard Hardie board, which is hard wearing and durable. If you want something in natural wood, it will take more out of your budget.

Sound, lights, action!

Do you want a sound system, a TV, recessed lights, ceiling fans? You’ll need to budget not only for the fixtures and sound systems, but the electrical upgrades to extend your power outside the house. If you’re on a tight budget, but appreciate quality, instead of getting all these options in cheaper models, decide what you really can’t live without. Scratch off the extra’s from your wish list, and buy high quality for those conveniences you’ve identified as “must-haves”. Having a high quality sound system but no ceiling fans if you get good natural breezes just makes good sense.

Planning an outdoor kitchen will always add more to the budget

The kitchen inside your house was likely the most expensive part to build or renovate. It’s no different with the outdoor living space you are trying to bring to life. Ask yourself how you plan to use that outdoor kitchen. How often are you going to use that pizza oven? If the answer is all the time, spring for it. If the answer is less than once a month, it’s probably a waste of budget. Spend that money somewhere else. And you still need to keep in mind adequate space. A small but functional kitchen can be around 10 linear feet. If you want more prep space, plan for 15 linear feet. A small kitchen will run you around $20,000, a larger one, $25,000. For some people, it’s all about the kitchen and they go for 25 linear feet with a raised bar top, huge grill, expensive furniture and so on. The bigger the kitchen, the more you’ll need to budget.

Fireplace or fire pit?

A fire feature is great, especially if your climate has cool summer nights or autumn days. Fireplaces can be either natural gas or wood burning. The size and your choice of stone will define the cost of the fireplace. In any event, add about $20,000 to your budget as a rule. Fire pits are less expensive, but equally enchanting, and will add around $5,000.

As you can see, with a little bit of planning you can turn your outdoor area into anything you want. If you can’t afford everything at once, think what features you will be able to add later. With a little patience, you will have your dream patio.

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