They say, “Home is where the heart is.” That can mean different things to different people, but for most of us it means that home is where we feel our best. After all, home is where we relax, sleep, eat and gather to celebrate good times with friends and family.
Americans were expected to spend $551 billion dollars – yes, that was a “b” – on home improvements in 2013 alone*. While home improvements serve fundamental needs such as having a safe roof over our heads, many home improvements are done simply to make our lives a little happier. Topping the list of “gotta have” home improvements are master bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor spaces. While we at Tri County Fence & Decks admittedly don’t know much about the first two, we know a heck of a lot about outdoor spaces. In this article, we provide some tips on how to create YOUR perfect backyard oasis.
Step 1 – Think
Many homeowners charge head-on into building a patio or a deck without giving it much thought. Perhaps their neighbor has one they like, or they saw something attractive in a magazine. But we would challenge you to give some thought and some family discussion time to what the ideal outdoor space would be for you and your family. Consider questions such as… Do you have small children? Do you frequently entertain? Do you want privacy or a more open space? Do you have animals? These all play a key role in planning your perfect space.
Step 2 – Planning
Once you’ve answered the fundamental questions, give some additional thought to future planning. Although it might not be in the budget now, perhaps a pool, hot tub, or outdoor kitchen is a part of your dream backyard. Sketching out your ideal space now will help you best plan for the placement and construction of the items that can be done now, and those that will come in the future.
Step 3 – Research
Before beginning any home improvement project, you’re going to need to do some research into what is possible in your area. Each county in Maryland has different requirements for making improvements. Your project will likely need permits and scheduled inspections throughout the process. Additionally, your home may be part of a Homeowners Association (HOA) with bylaws that outline the types of structures and building materials that are and are not acceptable. Once you have determined what’s possible, you’re ready to research design, style and building materials. The internet, magazines, and home shows like HGTV are great places to find the latest trends in design and materials. And finally, with a plan and ideas in mind, you’re ready to find your home improvement contractor.
Step 4 – Choosing the Right Contractor
Any veteran of a home improvement project can tell you that hiring a reputable contractor is paramount in making sure your investment is a good one. While it can be tempting to hire “a guy that my co-worker knows” to do it on the cheap, you are almost guaranteed regret. Not only that, but hiring anyone without a license can get you in trouble. If there is any one piece of advice to heed when doing home improvements, it’s “Don’t hire an unknown, unlicensed contractor!” A reputable contractor will be licensed and insured, and will provide actual customer testimonials and examples of work performed. It is also advised to find a contractor that specializes in what you need. While general contractors are great for building a home from scratch, they might not be your best choice to do a one-off project like a deck. If they even have deck builders on staff (it is more likely that they are sub-contracting the work out), decks may be a very small part of what they do regularly. You are safer in choosing a specialized contractor who does what you need day in and day out.
Step 5 – Work with Your Contractor
Once you have chosen a contractor, be sure to spend time communicating all of your needs and desires. Contractors are not mind readers, nor do they assume that what you want will be the same as what other customers want. In order to ensure that your project is done right, include everything you want and need in your written contract, such as building material style and color. Also during the estimating and contract proposal phase, provide any drawings or specifications you may have. Then, when building materials are delivered to the job site, it is a good idea to inspect them to make sure that they are what you ordered. The last thing that you or your contractor want is to find out that what was delivered and installed is not correct!
Creating a perfect backyard oasis can be a fun and exciting process when done right. If your outdoor living space includes a fence, a deck or both, contact us and we will help guide you through the process. Tri County Fence & Decks is a trusted provider of high quality fences and decks in Maryland. Through our Clarksburg, Maryland offices, we serve Montgomery County, Howard County, Frederick County and nearby locations. We offer Timbertech and Trex decking, Shoreline Vinyl Fencing, wood fences, metal fences, gates and more. Contact us at 301-916-2205, or visit our website at www.tricountyfence.com to learn more.
*Source: Remodeling Futures Program at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies