There are three must-have amenities when I buy a home. A hot tub, a deck, and Toto Washlets (bidet). With work-from-home here to stay for millions, having both a hot tub and a deck can dramatically improve your quality of living. And once you go electric bidet, you will never go back.
If you find a home that has all three things, it will likely trade at a premium. The idea is to create a spa-like atmosphere at home so you feel more relaxed. The happier you are at home, the higher your productivity and the better the family life.
If the home you're eyeing doesn't have these three amenities, make sure there's enough space to install a hot tub and build a deck. For the Toto Washlets, you need an electrical outlet nearby the toilet. Forward-thinking remodelers will install the electrical outlet near the base of the wall behind the toilet.
Installing A Hot Tub Was The Best Decision Ever
Back in 2016, I added a hot tub to my old house, which is now a rental. I had been writing from home since 2012 and wanted a place to relax and think up all sorts of new ideas.
It wasn't as easy as buying a hot tub and just plopping it in my backyard. I had to build a level cement platform and create a new wiring connection to the sub-panel. The total cost was about $15,000 and it has been worth every penny!
The hot tub is my sanctuary. So many posts have arisen during a long soak. My hot tub has also been a place where I've been regularly taking my boy to play since the pandemic started. We regularly hang out for one or two hours in the hot tub.
If you play sports or live in an area where temperatures get below 60 degrees, your hot tub will turn into one of your best friends.
Building A Deck Is A Terrific Home Addition
If you're asking yourself whether you should build a deck, the answer is absolutely. The benefits are both lifestyle and financial.
Some decks can be built with an easy-to-get over-the-counter permit. While other decks might require notifying your neighbors of your plans to build a deck and waiting for several months before getting a response.
You can also build your deck without a permit, especially if you or someone you know has the know-how. If the deck is low to the ground, building a deck without a permit is probably not a big deal. But for decks that require foundation work, are high up, and require bolting to the house, I highly recommend building a deck with permits. Safety first!
One of the reasons why my interest in a real estate FOMO forever home began to fade was because it didn't have a deck off the main bedroom or any bedroom.
One of my favorite things to do when I wake up in the morning is to step onto my deck and inhale the crisp morning air. It helps me wake up and feel more alive. Then on warm afternoons, I like to sit on the deck and read with a nice beverage in hand.
Here are my thoughts on why you should build a deck if you can. I built a deck back in 2015 after writing about the importance of taking some profits to pay for a better life. Then I built another deck again in 2022.
Reasons Why You Should Build A Deck
1) Fresh air and direct sunshine. There's nothing better than inhaling fresh air and feeling the sunshine on your face. You can even get naked and tan your whole body.
2) Sunlight is good for your mood. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern.
3) Sunlight is good for your bones. Exposure to the ultraviolet-B radiation in the sun’s rays causes a person’s skin to create vitamin D. The vitamin D made thanks to the sun plays a big role in bone health. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to rickets in children and bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia.
4) Another area to get away. On a pleasant day, your deck acts as another room where you can read, work on your laptop, take phone calls, or nap. The deck expands the size of your house. If your house is not very big, a deck becomes even more valuable. Work-from-home parents with young children are looking for better floor plans.
5) Indoor / outdoor living. Indoor / outdoor living is famous in places like Hawaii, where the weather is wonderful. If you ever try to rent an apartment in Manhattan, apartments with decks command huge premiums. Same thing if you were to buy. Nobody wants to get cooped up inside all day.
6) A place to have a meal or a glass of wine. Being able to eat and drink al fresco is wonderful on a pleasant day. I often go onto my deck during sunset with a beverage in hand.
7) A place to have a smoke of your choice without contaminating the inside of the house. If you smoke, then having a deck is very desirable.
8) To take advantage of your wonderful view. If you're lucky enough to have a great view, having a deck will help accentuate that view and bring you closer to nature.
9) To boost the value of your property. With the demand for outdoor living rising, building a deck will most certainly boost the value of your home if you rent it out or sell it.
The Cost To Build A Deck With Permits
Back in 2015, I built a 300 square foot deck with permits for about $25,000. I used redwood and Trex composite material so the deck would last longer. In 2022, I built another deck. A smaller one that is only nine feet wide by eight feet long off my dining room.
I chose 72 square feet because it is large enough to have up to six people comfortably standing around. It is also large enough to seat a round table of four or five people. I didn't want to go much larger because it would take away some useable space from my backyard and block too much light from the room below.
Unfortunately, the cost to build a deck has gone up since 2015 due to inflation.
Here are the costs to build a deck with permits in 2022 in SF:
- $2,850 for permit and structural engineer. The permit cost about $1,200. The rest was to the structural engineer to draw up the design. Interestingly, my contractor got the permit immediately approved. We did not have to provide public notice for three months before proceeding.
- $2,500 for Milgard French door to replace the fogged out window.
- $2,596 for the lumber, metal parts, cement, and other deck footing materials.
- $3,500 for Trex deck material. The deck is about 11 feet high. So the workers had to build a makeshift scaffolding to get up there.
- $8,500 for labor. Labor included breaking the concrete in my backyard and going down two feet deep for the posts and cement. The workers also had to blow open my dining room wall, remove my old failed window, install the French door, mud, and sand the interior, chicken wire and stucco the exterior. Of course, they also had to build the deck.
- $500 for dumping of trash. Had to haul away a lot of old wood material and trash given they opened and closed the walls.
The total cost of building the deck was about $16,000.
If you include the cost of the French door and labor required to open the wall, remove the old window, install the French door, and patch and paint the interior and exterior, the total cost to build the deck was about $21,000.
Here's a post on how much to spend remodeling your house for maximum profit. You don't want to spend to much on remodeling, otherwise, you will lose lots of money. You also don't want to remodel with too eclectic a taste.
Had To Replace My Window Anyway
My existing dining room window had fogged up and failed. It was over 40 years old and you could only see clearly through 25% of the window. Hence, I needed to replace the window anyway.
So instead of replacing it with another window, I decided to replace it with a French door that led out to a deck. I'm glad I did because the wood framing had also experienced some rot. Ah, the joy of buying a fixer-upper. But I expected these problems before making an offer in early 2019.
If you have an old window that needs replacing, if possible replace it with a glass door and build a deck. If your home has a view, even more reason to build a deck. Just make sure the structural support is there.
The Return On Your Deck Investment
Building a deck is a good investment for your mental health and your money. At the very least, you will likely recoup 100% of the cost to build your deck. However, with more people working from home and demanding indoor / outdoor living, I think you will be able to double or triple your deck investment.
For example, I would gladly have paid $35,000 – $50,000 more for my home if it had a rear-facing deck. Yet, it only cost $16,000 – $21,000 to build. Buying a home with a deck also saves me the pain and time to build a deck.
If you build a deck for your rental property, you may be able to command higher rental income or at least, attract more high quality tenants to choose from. I think my deck will be able to command $2,000 more a year in rental income, which would mean a 10% annual return on investment.
The demand for homes with decks is only going to rise over the coming years. If you can't buy a home with a deck, make sure building one is a possibility. Your lifestyle and your wallet will thank you.
Reader Questions And More
Readers, anybody else build a deck? What other must-have amenities are there for homes nowadays? If you're in decumulation mode, one of the best ways to spend money is to “trade up in place” by expanding your home.
Pick up a copy of my new book, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. It not only will help you build more wealth, it will help you tackle some of life's biggest dilemmas with confidence.
For more nuanced personal finance content, join 50,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009.