Everyone needs their own spot in the sun (or under the stars). It doesn’t have to be big—sometimes, a space that’s just enough for a chair, a book, and a cup of coffee will do. Other times, a space that acts as an extension of your living room or kitchen is the goal; a place for a sofa, a fireplace, and a nightcap. Today, Mike Dunn, president of Dunn Lumber, is talking with our friend Ben Middlemiss, president of London Design Build, and Jason Cameron, contractor and DIY TV host, about how people can create, enjoy, and make the most of their outdoor living spaces.

How do I plan my outdoor living space? Where do I start?

Always start by answering this primary question: How do you want to use the space? Do you want to entertain? Is it just for hanging out with close friends and family? Is it a space for kids and dogs to run around? Your home and its context tell a lot about how to approach your outdoor living space.

You may also find that once you consider an outdoor living space, you’ll change how you think about your home and how you use it. For instance, maybe you previously considered building a screened-in porch to gain some additional square footage. Now, you may think about building a more extensive outdoor living space to expand the footprint of your home and create a space to relax and enjoy. The best place to start when planning is to look at how you use your home already, and how an outdoor living space would best suit your needs.

What are some of the best home improvements for resale when it comes to outdoor living?

Buyers are very savvy—they want the most bang for their buck, and when they’re in the market for a new home, they’re often looking for something with the latest and greatest features and updates. The backyard can sell a space. By adding an outdoor living space, you’re adding square footage to your home. Now, many outdoor living spaces even have qualities and appliances you’d find indoors, from TVs to fireplaces.

Plus, with an outdoor living space, entertaining is more of a possibility, which is attractive to some buyers—it’s hard to throw a party for 100 indoors, but when it can spill outdoors, space is no longer a constraint. Adding any type of outdoor living space, from undergoing a full yard makeover to planning a patio, is a great way to increase your home’s resale value.

DIY vs. contractor: what projects should I try and which ones should I leave to the professionals?

A lot of homebuyers, particularly young couples, are interested in DIYing. Some people’s first impression is “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” But you’d be amazed at what you can do with enough knowledge and the desire to do it, not to mention it can also be a good way to save money and earn the satisfaction of a job well done. That said, it’s important to know where to draw the line. Projects such as putting down pavers or building a fire pit are good DIY starters—depend on your level of experience, anything beyond that might require a professional. Like everything else, DIYing is all about the preparation, passion, and time you put in the project.

What’s the difference between updating a historic home’s outdoor living space vs. creating an outdoor living space in a new construction?

When you have an older house, there are many more unknowns. You have to be prepared for surprises. Codes can be strict, and oftentimes, older homes are not up to code. When you update anything, you’ll have to meet new code. That’s where the majority of the challenges lie when working in historic spaces, and where working with a contractor vs. DIYing may be the best way to go.

Stay tuned for the rest of this series as Mike, Ben, and Jason continue to discuss how people can create, enjoy, and make the most of their outdoor living spaces.

Looking to get started on an outdoor living project? Come visit your local Dunn Lumber for expert advice and friendly assistance to bring your project to life.