Go take it outside!

The warmer weather is just around the corner, so here are a few popular options to consider for your next great outdoor project.

Let the Sun Shine In

Sunrooms are more than just a place to catch a few rays. George Dickie, owner of Creative Sunrooms, which has been in the business for 25 years, says sunrooms used to be small and seasonal parts of the home. Now, he says, a typical sunroom is double the size and is used year round as a kitchen, dining room or living room.

There are obvious benefits to a sunroom: more light, space and comfort. But home- owners who decide to install a sunroom will benefit also from a “net heat gain.” That’s because the sun coming into the sunroom will heat the room to which it’s attached.

“Your home will be bigger, but it won’t cost more to heat it,” Dickie says.

Dickie says now the most popular style of sunroom is the Victorian conservatory model, which he says is “very pretty” with plenty of “old-world charm.” The cost to install a sunroom can range anywhere from $100 per square foot to $300 per square foot, depending on the model of the sunroom itself and if the floor area and foundation are included.


More Than Just Storage

The biggest trend in garages now is one- stop shopping. Lorne Graves with Graves Barns & Buildings Ltd says his company takes care of every aspect of most of the garages they install, from the foundation to the siding. That saves the homeowner from having to find contractors to take care of the excavation and other factors.

He also says garages are becoming more than a place to store a car. Many models include a second level for storage, a home office or as a hangout for the kids. Still other garages may serve as large workshops.

As for storage barns, these too often serve many purposes, as a pool house, small workshop or a place for gardening equip- ment. Still other homeowners use them to store larger toys such as skidoos and ATVs or lawnmowers. For this reason, Graves says homeowners are choosing the larger models, from 10 x 14 to 12 x 20 in size.

All Decked Out

Like a sunroom, a deck or patio often serves as an additional room for the home. That is a trend Maurice Meagher with Archadeck of Nova Scotia is seeing and one they incorpo- rate into their own designs.

“We are considering the customers life- style and designing a solution that is unique to their space and to their family. It’s more an extension of the home,” Meagher says. “We are seeing decks that have separate areas for different lifestyle functions, including an area for grilling, dining, or lighting to allow entertaining at night. Fire

pits and heaters are popular as well. Out- door rooms are getting more popular.”

To accommodate new functions, these outdoor rooms can have a number of fea- tures, including hot tubs, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, roofs for shelter, lighting, built-in seating, planters, awnings and storage areas under the deck. Decks and patios can also accommodate those with mobility issues

Before a homeowner decides to go ahead with the building of an outdoor space, they need to consider a number of factors such as how they will use the space, the style of their home, the material choices and who the builder will be. They will also need to determine a budget.

“Typically 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the value of the home is a good starting point,” says Meagher of what homeowners can expect to pay. “Our projects range from a few thousand to over a hundred thousand. There are lots of great cost effective ways to create an outdoor living space.”


Taking the Outside In

Another way to create an outdoor room is with a patio screen room. These rooms can be easily installed in a couple of days, says Andrew Delorey, owner/operator of Patio Screen Rooms. Originally designed for the Florida market, these rooms work in the Nova Scotia climate by allowing homeown- ers to enjoy the outdoors in three seasons.

The Weather Master windows are made from vinyl inspired by spacecraft technol- ogy and protect the area from the wind, rain and flies you’d find on an uncovered deck. The rooms come in seven colours and several styles and can be installed on an existing deck or veranda. Delorey says he’s also installed the rooms on concrete, cob- blestone or he can build a deck if needed.

Anyone can enjoy these rooms, from early retirees to those with young children.

Brick by Brick

In masonry, Jennifer Hall with Shaw Brick says the biggest trend this year is building stone and concrete products that closely resemble natural stone in both colour and texture.

“In the past products that were manu- factured to look antique were very popular but we are now finding more and more that people are choosing products that have cleaner lines and smoother surfaces,” Hall says. “Ledgestone is the most popular stone type for both natural and manufactured stone.”

As for the colour, Hall says say bold has taken a back seat to natural earth tones. “In the past few years we have seen a drastic decline in our red and mahogany colours and a sharp upswing in our greys and lighter browns. I believe people want products that provide cohesion with the natural environment.”

But masonry is not only being used in walkways. Hall says outdoor fireplaces are becoming more popular as homeowners make their outdoor spaces into eating and entertainment areas. Outdoor kitchen areas with counter sides covered with thin veneer products are a top trend, too. Hall says using these thin veneer products is a very

do-it-yourself friendly project. “There are plenty of great videos out there from the companies that supply the products such as Cultured Stone (http:// culturedstone.com/installation/). Just be sure to check local bylaws before installing as the rules vary across Nova Scotia and the Maritimes. I would, however, leave the larger areas such as the front of your house to a professional.”



Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent has been working as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Her work has appeared in The Chronicle Herald, The Coast, the Daily News, National Review of Medicine and Lawyers Weekly. She also works as the editor of Ocean Resources/Earth Resources and Atlantic Boating News

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