In many parts of the U.S., the arrival of spring this year came complete with snow shovels and rock salt. But the birds are chirping, the sun’s shining earlier each day, and summer’s on its way. Are you summer ready?  We’re not talking about beach bodies here. We’re asking if you’ve been thinking about how to maximize the use of your home and yard as summer arrives. After all, the days of barbeques and horseshoes will be here before you know it.

Decks, porches, and patios are a fantastic way for you to enjoy the changing weather. But more than that, they are also a great opportunity to use exterior additions to solve space issues. And with a variety of materials and styles, there are practical and attractive options for everyone.

Here’s what you should think about if you’re considering a new deck, patio, or porch:

What permission (if any) do you need for the structure? Answer this question first to avoid arguments and/or fines. Are you part of a homeowners’ association that has rules about such things? Have you looked into local codes and safety requirements (and the ever-critical permits that may be required)? What is necessary where you live for you to add or modify a deck, patio, or porch?

 Where will it be located? What utilities will you want or need access to? (Think electrical outlets or hose attachments.) Is there a specific function you have in mind for the space? For instance, if this is where your daughter’s going to hone her soccer skills, then maybe the side of your house with all the windows isn’t your best bet. If this is where your annual fried turkey extravaganza will take place, you might want to consider how close (and likely) it is to set any neighboring structures ablaze. Do you prefer sun or shade? Is there a better view on one side of the house (your neighbor’s beautifully landscaped yard) compared to another (the senior citizens who live on the other side and who like to skinny dip)?

What materials will you use? Are you looking for longevity or aesthetics? Or perhaps both are equally important? What will your budget be for the project? This will impact your material choices. Are you allergic to all things outdoors? Perhaps an enclosed space will be a smarter choice for you. What is the style of your home? Think about colors and styles that will complement, rather than compete, with what you have.

Whom is the build or renovation for? Are you putting on a gorgeous deck for your family? Or are you looking to improve your outdoor spaces because it increases the value of your home? suggests that when it comes to decks, resale value is incidental (the impact of any investment varies based upon where you live, what materials you use, etc.). They recommend you take into account the “joy factor.” In other words, if the addition makes you happy or more inclined to enjoy your home, then that is your return on investment.

You might be surprised to learn that you can’t assume more expensive materials will make for an increased ROI. For instance, reports, based in Remodeling Magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Report,” that wood decks yield a higher ROI than their composite counterpart. What’s the takeaway here? Splinter-free living for your loved ones for years to come? Consider investing in the higher cost stuff. If you’re looking to turn over your house quickly, you’ll do as well with the less expensive wood alternative.

Curb appeal! Don’t underestimate the value of “curb appeal.” A potential buyer who enjoys sipping lemonade on a rattan chair, looking out over the porch, or sunbathing on the back deck? She’s more inclined to fall in love with your house when she can see herself living there. But curb appeal matters even if the deck, porch, or patio is for your own enjoyment. You want to pull up to your home after a long day and smile.

Whether you’re looking to repair or replace worn-out materials or hoping to create a new front yard or backyard sanctuary for your family, HPI’s experts can help. Take advantage of a free in-home estimate on all services. Call 410.757.2658 to schedule your appointment.