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Problems with “Outdoor Rooms”

By Chris Williams on November 22, 2011.

A new trend in outdoor entertaining is the “outdoor room.” People are opting for smaller homes that increase living space by expanding into outdoor areas instead. Outdoor rooms are an extension of a home’s living space and can be as simple as a garden room with benches or as complex as a $200,000 outdoor space complete with a full kitchen and pizza oven, fireplace, wet bar, big screen TV, pool table, spa, misting system, and a full set of upholstered lounging furniture. Most new homes built today have some kind of outdoor feature. Admittedly, outdoor rooms are more common in warmer areas of the country where, in some locations, they are used year-round. But, homeowners in our area are asking for outdoor rooms, too.

outdoor-roomUnfortunately, some homeowners fail to first consider the ramifications of their outdoor space in terms of maintenance and pests. In some cases, those who at first embraced their outdoor rooms are now falling out of love and abandoning them. Homeowners didn’t take into consideration that their new outdoor rooms are…well, still outdoors. It’s a lot harder to keep an outdoor room clean. And it’s a lot more expensive when furniture, appliances, and electronics require frequent repairs as dust, sun, pollen, and rain take their toll.

Pests are a problem in outdoor rooms, too. For example, that new furniture, even though it’s supposed to be weatherproof, is not impermeable to bird droppings. The jets to the hot tub get clogged by berries dropped by birds. Many pest control companies say they have noticed an increase in business thanks to the increase in outdoor rooms. Food remnants in outdoor stoves and grills attract rodents, which can attract snakes, which in turn result in calls from homeowners who find copperheads sunning in their fancy outdoor rooms. Fire ants are attracted to the vibration of TVs and stereo speakers where they can establish nests. Squirrels chew on the arms and legs of wooden furniture. And there are still mosquitoes, gnats, and yellowjackets.

If you’re considering adding an outdoor room to your house, think it through or better yet, talk to someone who has had an outdoor room for some time. Those who design outdoor rooms say prospective owners need to consider ambiance, privacy, and the issue of pests, not necessarily in that order, when planning an outdoor living space.

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