Worth doing? Depends on location
If you're in Syracuse, N.Y., and facing 170 inches of snow during the winter, putting a Viking stove, Lynx Grill and Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet dishwasher, bar and pizza oven in your outdoor space probably isn't going to pay off. If you're in Arizona or California, where a fenced-in outdoor area can actually count toward the home's square footage, an outdoor kitchen can be a brilliant investment.
If your outdoor kitchen is considered an actual kitchen, the return on a major kitchen remodel -- in this case, 69% -- would be roughly the same. Homeowners should in no way believe they'll be getting a break on the average $58,000 it costs to put in a kitchen, though. Despite having a pedestal grill in its clearance section for $2,000, the majority of Kalamazoo's grills run from $7,000 to upward of $15,000.
Throw in common kitchen fixtures such as refrigerators, sinks, cooktops, cabinets, dishwashers and even splurge items including beer taps and pizza ovens -- not to mention the associated plumbing -- and an outdoor kitchen can be every bit as formidable as a home's standard kitchen, if not more so. Features such as range hoods and portable heaters are also making outdoor kitchens year-round propositions in markets as seasonally chilly as Nantucket and Northern Michigan.
"We have reason to believe an outdoor kitchen installation has a return on investment that is at least comparable to that of an indoor kitchen," said Russ Faulk, vice president of product development for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. "In some markets, a fully functional outdoor kitchen means adding a second kitchen to the home's listing. So you list the home as five bedrooms, two kitchens."
Worth doing? If you have the space, absolutely
Gazebos tend to get lumped into the same aesthetic niche as lawn ornaments and water features, but that far oversimplifies what this $2,000 to $6,500 investment can do for a home or property. By basically giving the yard a roofed deck or a detached porch, a gazebo of the right size can make a lovely reading room, an extended gardening area or a nice shaded spot to take shelter with a drink during summer parties.
Vinyl versions from Home Depot or Lowe's tend to drive up the price a bit, but 12-foot gazebos made with treated wood are viable alternatives. If that hard ceiling isn't a necessity or you already have an outdoor space such as a patio, $800 to $5,000 vine-strung pergolas are a gazebo option for those seeking some shaded solitude. While gazebos and pergolas lean heavily on aesthetic appeal for their value -- making their resale return a bit ambiguous -- remodeling professionals suggest that the fluctuating values of almost any home improvement should make features such as gazebos and pergolas labors of love, not summer projects for those looking for a sunnier sale price.
"Builders are facing headwinds getting appraisals that give full value to the cost of materials and construction, and remodeled homes face similar challenges upon resale," says Stephen Melman, director of economic services for the National Association of Home Builders. "The best reason for remodeling is to improve the lifestyle of the owners, and that benefit is greatly undervalued."
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