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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Many people who wanted to sell their homes before the pandemic have put their plans on pause, according to a report from The New York Times. Instead, they’re using this time to ensure their properties look their best. But what projects are actually worth your time and effort? The backyard is a solid place to start—and not just because it’s officially summer. Finance Buzz surveyed more than 1,500 adults in the U.S. about their home-buying plans post-COVID-19, and 27 percent of respondents said their main motivation for moving would be to find a place with more outdoor space. 

While sprawling lawns are definitely on the minds of buyers, you don’t have to have a ton of acreage for your home to stand out on the market. According to recent research from Zillow, these three outdoor renovations will increase the value of your home.

If the Sky Is the Limit

Houses with an outdoor kitchen mentioned in the listing description sold for 4.5 percent more than similar homes. The expense of building one varies widely (an estimate from Home Advisor notes anywhere from $4,800 to $21,000), as it largely depends on the types of materials and appliances you choose. To keep costs down when it comes to cabinetry, focus on longevity over luxury—timber, teak, and cedar (commonly used for decks) age gracefully outdoors. 


If You Want to Keep Construction to a Minimum

Spaces with pergolas have been shown to sell for 2 percent more and an average of eight days faster than expected, but those aren’t the only reasons to love them. The beauty of these structures is that they allow you to kick back and relax without the sun in your eyes. A custom pergola built by a pro will cost around $3,500, but you can purchase ready-made ones for closer to $1,300. Or if you already have one that’s in rough shape, spruce it up with some white paint, string lights, and curtains for a cabana feel. 

If You’re Counting on a DIY

Properties with firepits sold for 2.8 percent more than comparable listings. The average cost to build one is $700, but this project can ring in as low as $300 if you go with a premade, above-ground option and a simple patio surface constructed out of sand and pavers. All that’s left to do is bring out the s’mores.

It’s hammer time: Follow @reno_notebook for easy rental updates, clever DIYs, and tips to nail your next project.