Decks: The Great Property Value Debate

brown wooden terrace outside clear glass door

Back in March, real estate site urged homeowners to do some soul-searching before signing up for a new backyard deck. Although their “5 Questions” were said to be those real estate pros “say you should ask yourself,” you don’t have to be a professional to recognize the wisdom in giving them some thought. As homeowners prepare for summer this year, the questions deckless homeowners should ask themselves are especially worth thinking about. The issues touched upon:

Entertainment – Decks are for entertainment, for you, family, and guests. Do you really like “outdoor living?” If it’s not high on your priority list, you might put off the project until building material prices come back down to earth. Right now, lumber inflation is a thing. Check out lumber prices if you want to do a double-take.

View – A spacious deck is a pleasure to hang out in—unless the surrounding area is more eyesore than eye candy. If the visual environment genuinely needs improvement, other projects (like fencing or planting a visual barrier) deserve priority. Bob Vila’s site offers some valuable ideas.

Investment – If the primary motivation for adding a deck is to boost your property’s resale value, studies indicate that the most you stand to recoup is 66%-74%. This is hardly what an accountant would recommend—although renewing a weather-beaten or splintered deck is another story entirely.

Resale – However, (this is the exact opposite advice, financially speaking), if you plan to put your home on the market anytime soon, for some properties, an attractive deck can be the deciding factor. If it makes a sale happen, the added value is hard to calculate.

You – If you have always fancied a deck—and you’ll be sticking around the neighborhood for a while—it can be a priceless addition to the amount of enjoyment your home provides.

If the decision is ‘yes’ for a new deck, the relative cost for wood or composite is currently a moving target. Composite decks have a maintenance and durability advantage, and right now, with wood prices and availability in flux, the initial cost differential has narrowed considerably. Usable outdoor space is getting more consideration in post-pandemic America.