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Thinking about a Patio Makeover? Depending on the size of your patio the first thing to consider is how you will be using your outdoor space. You want to optimize your space as much as possible and there are many things to consider. How will you be spending the majority of your time on the patio?  Do you need a place for kid activities? Do you have pets? Will you be designing your space around existing hardscape or a beautiful Old Oak tree? Once you are able to answer these and any other space usage questions particular to your project, move on to figuring out what you want vs. what you need.

Getting the patio project going is exciting. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into planning the space you have dreamed about for a while and now it’s finally going to happen! With all the details that go into a remodel, it can become overwhelming, especially on your budget. That’s were your needs and wants really come into play.

Where should you begin?

There has to be a plan and it needs to be as detailed as possible. The more detail the better. There is no such thing as a too detailed plan. Just be flexible if some of your design elements are unobtainable for your space.

Put your thoughts on paper, and I mean actually draw it out. It doesn’t need to be a skillful sketch, just a basic outline of where and how you see the layout. If you start putting your thoughts on paper in this way, you’ll think of things that you hadn’t thought of before.

“And, most importantly, the drawn-out plan will help you communicate your vision to your designer/contractor.” 

As a designer, I know that when I understand the client’s expectations, I have a lot better chance of making it happen. You must make sure that your designer/contractor understands the project, and what you are trying to accomplish. If possible, have pictures to refer to while speaking with your designer/contractor. When it comes to hiring a designer/contractor be sure to ask lots of questions. It’s important to hire someone with whom you can establish and good rapport especially if things don’t go as planned.

From start to finish, know what you are buying and know what the end result will be. Be aware that there are usually cost over-runs to lookout for. Some say 10% over budget is normal, while others say it can be as high as 20% or more over the original bid. The idea is to plan for it so there are no surprises that keep you from obtaining the best outcome. Depending on the size of the project a detailed contract might be in order so everyone is on the same page as far as what is expected of them.

Explain your expectations to your designer/contractor, and be as detailed as you can about what you want done. He or she will tell you if your budget is in line or not. Be open to changing your ideas if the budget requires you to.

Taking the available budget and then figuring out the amenities that you want to include in your patio will give you a good stepping-stone to conceptualize the project. Depending on the project, working with a professional designer/contractor is usually worth the money. But sometimes the budget is what it is and you may not be able to hire someone to do all the planning for you. In this case, go slow and do your research. Hiring different contractors to accomplish each step or phase can be costly, not to mention all the headaches that come from dealing with multiple designers/contractors. Hiring a single designer/contractor who will handle the whole project is always best providing they are experienced in your type of project.

You may plan to do a portion of your patio at a time. Sometimes this can be a great way to prioritize your needs vs. your wants. Knowing what is essential in your design can help with the starting point, too.

If budget is an issue, the main concept plan could be broken down into more than one project or phase. Again you can start with the needs and then move on to the wants.

For example: In Phase I the cement goes down, the patio cover goes up, your fan and lighting are installed, the plumbing for your gas barbeque is put in place, and your patio furnishings for that part of the project are purchased. Once Phase I is complete, your plan will take the project into Phase II as per your budget and timing.

Phase II may be the fire pit, pizza oven and bar.

Phase III may be the finishing touches like the landscaping, plants, water bowls, gas torches and fountain. Completion is derived from your planning and execution, and once you enter the final phase you have a good grasp of what will and won’t be completed.

Staying disciplined but also being flexible is a very fine line to walk. Do your homework and stay with the plan. If any changes have to be made, do a project assessment and figure out if you are going to stay on track or if you are changing the plan completely. If at any time during your project you find that one part of your plan just isn’t going to work out, adjust!

Creating a plan that is not just workable, but satisfies your expectations so that you are happy with the finished project is key. Often times the planning takes longer than the actual work.

Knowing how to create the inviting outdoor space that speaks to your style and taste is more than just putting your plans on paper and getting the bids. Research, checking references, finding the styles you want, keeping on task, and staying up to date with the designer/contractor is what it takes to finish a project.

Remember this: A well-executed Patio makeover is the product of a good plan.

For more information on outdoor spaces head on over our blog page.