How to Create a Budget for your New Patio Project, Pool Project, or Backyard Renovation

Before you ask how much it costs:

The biggest question most homeowners have about their patio project is, “how much will it cost?” It’s an important question, but before it can be answered, you must first ask yourself, “how do I want to use this new space?”  

Most homeowners know the major structures they want to build: a patio with a sitting wall and pillars, a fire pit or fireplace, an outdoor kitchen or grill island, a pergola or pavilion, a deck or porch, new landscaping, and outdoor lighting. What homeowners do not know is that the costs for these elements can vary widely depending on how you intend to use them.  For example, a fire pit with chairs all the way around it requires more patio square footage than a fire pit with wall seating on one side. Another great example is that a traditional lounge setup of sofa and chairs typically requires more square footage than does sectional seating. It is important to think about these details early because your preferences about how the space will be enjoyed, can drastically impact your budget.


The Six Sections of your Outdoor Project Budget:

Once you understand how you intend to use your new outdoor living space, you’re ready to start putting together a project budget. Keep in mind that creating a firm price for any project is nearly impossible until the design is complete. Before you begin design, your goal is to establish an initial budget range.

Your complete outdoor project budget consists of the six major sections:

  • Hardscapes and Structures
  • Softscapes and Site Work
  • Lighting and Technology
  • Utilities
  • Appliances and Fixtures
  • Outdoor Furniture

Hardscapes and Structures

Most homeowners know what they want to include in this section of the project. They know they want a patio with sitting walls and pillars, a firepit or fireplace, an outdoor kitchen or grilling area, a pergola or pavilion, a deck or porch, a swimming pool, a fence, new driveway or shed.

As mentioned above, remember that your intended use of these structures can drastically affect the costs. The best example of this comes with Outdoor Kitchens. When adding appliances to your kitchen for additional use, remember the cost will increase more than just the appliance itself. Every appliance you choose to include will increase the size of the structure and possibly the utility requirements. Adding one appliance can increase the cost of an Outdoor Kitchen by thousands of dollars. Homeowners are frequently surprised to find that the cost of an Outdoor Kitchen can meet or exceed the cost of the patio they put it on.

Additionally, it is of the utmost importance to budget not only for the structures you want, but also the structures you need. The most common example of this is retaining walls that may be required to properly build an outdoor space on a sloped surface. Grades/slopes can be very deceptive, and it is not uncommon to find yards that look relatively flat, actually have a 3-6 foot drop. In most cases, proper build specifications will require retaining walls for outdoor spaces with a drop more than 12-18”. It’s important to know this going into the process because the need for a retaining wall can significantly increase the cost of even the simplest of patios.


Softscapes and Site Work

No outdoor project is complete without landscaping. Even some minimal plantings can make a BIG difference to a space. Hardscapes are called hardscapes for a reason; they look and feel hard. In order to create a comfortable and enjoyable space, you need landscaping, and other softscape elements, to soften it.

Though it is not a fun element to think about, it is of the utmost importance to remember drainage when planning/budgeting your new outdoor space. A new outdoor space will undoubtedly change the flow of water in your yard. A lack of proper water management can lead to standing water as well as damage to your hardscape structures.  A reputable contractor should have a well thought out plan for how to manage the flow of water through your space.

Also, it is important to budget for demolition and repair at the beginning and end of the project. If you have an existing deck or patio, there will be costs to demo and dispose of those things properly. Additionally, the finishing touches of sod and possible siding repair (if you’ve removed a deck) are important to account for because is always the “little things” that can add up and push a project over budget.


Lighting and Home Technology

Outdoor lighting may provide the most dollar for dollar value in your new outdoor living room. It provides ambiance, safety, curb appeal, and extends your enjoyment of the new space well into the night. A professional designer should provide a landscape lighting plan for your new space as part of your design.

Additionally, be mindful of any home technology you want to include in the new outdoor space. A WiFi extender, outdoor speakers or outdoor audio system, and an outdoor TVs are some of the most popular home technology options available.



Almost every outdoor project will need some amount of utility work done. The most common utilities are adding electrical outlets, running a gas lines to your new outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace or fire pit, and installing irrigation for the new landscaping plan. If you are having a pool installed, you may need more substantial electrical and plumbing work done.

As mentioned before with other elements, your intended use can impact the utility costs of your project. Running gas and electrical lines are not flat rates. The more pull/use you have on any utility will increase the cost.


Appliances and Fixtures

Decide what sort of appliances you want to include. Firepits and fireplaces can be upgraded with gas inserts. Outdoor kitchens or grill islands can house built-in grills, side burners, outdoor rated refrigerators, cabinetry, pizza ovens, sinks, wine coolers, and a host of other appliances. Pergolas can be upgraded to include ceiling fans, curtains, and blinds.


Outdoor Furniture

Homeowners almost always put off the thought/discussion of outdoor furniture until after their outdoor spaces have been completed. This is a mistake for two important reasons, both of which can affect your budget. To start, outdoor furniture is essential to enjoying your new space. If you don’t budget for outdoor furniture, you could be left with a gorgeous space that you can’t enjoy for a year or two (this is unfortunately quite common). Additionally, as mentioned briefly before, understanding what furniture you want is also the key to a well-designed patio. Knowing whether you want a 4 person dining set, a 6 person dining set, or an 8 person dining set makes a huge difference in the amount of patio space you need. Likewise, properly planning for size of your outdoor lounge chairs, couch, or sectional sofa is key to creating a well-designed space.

Discover What is Feasible:

There are a lot of things to account for in your new patio project, pool project, or backyard renovation. As a homeowner getting ready to undertake a new home improvement project, you need accurate cost information and a design/build contractor that can help guide you through the design and construction of your new outdoor space.

At Outdoor Dreams, we have created the Outdoor Dreams Journey to help you design, build, and furnish your new patio project, pool project, or backyard renovation. To assist clients in setting an accurate budget, your journey begins with developing a Feasibility Study for your project. After an initial meeting with your designer, Outdoor Dreams will create your personal Feasibility Study, which provides an initial budget range for each element of your project. This Feasibility Study will also outline square footage requirements for your space based on your intended use as well as any structural requirements you may need for proper building (example: retaining walls). This information will allow you to properly set a budget, with a wholistic view of your project.

Once put together, you’ll meet again with your designer to review the Feasibility Study in person and ask any questions. With this knowledge in hand, you will be able to enter the design process with confidence, knowing exactly how your project’s scope and budget should align. It’s important to know this information in advance to avoid designing a project that doesn’t fit your budget.

For more information about beginning your Outdoor Dreams Journey, contact us here.

About The Author

Mike Newberger

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