Likewise, Michael Mendelsohn, owner of Mendelsohn Construction in Scottsdale, Ariz., is also seeing his business grow as a result of more outdoor structures. "Every home I'm doing, we're enlarging the back patio areas — even after the plans are done. People want more multi-use living centers with TVs and full kitchens."
Most outdoor structures are some sort of variation or combination of a deck, patio, pergola, arbor, trellis or gazebo, and sometimes they may be of a custom design or even go by different names to reflect their function or region of the country (lanai, palapa, veranda). "These structures are all about expanding use," says Sears. "People want to get more useful hours per day and more useful days per year from the outdoor living spaces."
The same basic principles of design and construction apply as to the outdoor structures as it does the main house: use materials and design similar to those of the home to blend the two structures, make sure you follow all codes — especially those regarding setbacks and electrical/gas hookups, and choose materials and build carefully so that the structure will stand up to the elements. Where wind load is a concern, like it is in Florida, the structure needs to be properly anchored to the ground.