Have you ever been to a party on an outdoor patio? If you have, then you probably understand the power of those spaces. A gathering outside beneath the stars on a warm summer night is always more appealing than a get-together inside a house.
A patio serves as a place to spend quiet mornings with coffee and paper in hand, as well as the perfect spot for a party or family barbecue. The right patio can make a home feel more spacious and more inviting.
But how much does it cost to build one in your backyard? And what are some factors to consider?
Factors to consider before building a patio
Purpose of the patio
RJ Lamb, owner of Lambs Lawn Service and Landscaping, advises people to think about what they actually want to do with the patio and how they are going to use it before considering pricing and materials. “You want to make sure that it is big enough for the number of people you plan to entertain,” says Lamb.
He adds, “If you are going to build an outdoor kitchen or add a fire pit, make sure you plan for the extra space it will take up. While adding on down the road is possible, the block or flagstone that you initially used may be discontinued by the manufacturer, so you won’t be able to match the block in the future.”
Lamb says that most of his clients are homeowners just wanting a small place where they can entertain guests and that “the big thing right now is having a fire pit.”
Brian C. McHugh, owner of McHugh Construction in Colorado, says it’s also important to consider any yard setbacks as well as where the sun rises and sets.
Sun exposure is a personal choice. If you plan to sunbathe, make sure your patio is installed in a portion of the yard with good sun exposure. If you want to add a hammock or dine outside, you might want a spot with more shade, particularly if you live in a hot climate.
Of course, if your yard is small, you may not have much choice in this matter, but you can always add an umbrella or shade sail if there’s too much sun. Some designers recommend using stakes and string (or landscaper’s spray paint) to outline the perimeter you have in mind– this will help you make sure you’ve made the right decision.
Yard setback requirements are typically set by the county or housing development where you reside. Make sure you understand the rules regarding the required distance between your property line and any nearby structures.
Water flow is another consideration. It’s best to avoid building your patio on a low spot on the property.
And don’t forget to give some thought to the plumbing, septic, and electrical lines in your yard. You don’t want to have to dig up your patio to access pipes or wires that need repair.
Patios can be built from a variety of materials, including pavers, flagstone, or concrete. There are colors and blocks for every style of house. Lamb says that stamped and colored concrete is pretty popular right now, but he advises paying attention to quality when selecting your material.
“You can buy block pavers from national chain stores, but they are cheap [quality]. Look at a company like Belgard Pavers. They have quality products and can even give you contractors that they recommend.”
Size of the patio
Lamb says his company’s average size patio is 20’ x 20’, or 400 square feet. Of course, the size will all depend on your space, budget, and patio desires.
What is the average cost to build a patio?
Patios have a wide range of prices and trying to calculate the cost isn’t easy, because there are many factors to consider. Homeadvisor says factors that have the potential to influence the total price of a patio project include:
- Urban or rural location
- Size of the patio
- Shape of the patio
- Stains and coloring
- Multiple levels
Concrete patios are typically the cheapest, and Homeadvisor says these can run anywhere from $2.50 per square foot all the way up to nearly $8 per square foot.
According to PaveTech, the average concrete patio will cost around $700 using pavers and doing all of the work independently. When professional concrete contractors and excavators are used, the price of an average patio increases to roughly $2,000 to $4,000.
Hughes puts the average cost of a standard concrete patio at about $5 per square foot, plus any steps (this matches up with Homeadvisor’s estimate per square foot). “The minimum cost would be around $1,000 to get a good crew out to a home for a smaller patio. A larger patio with custom color and stamp pattern can be as much as $15,000,” says Hughes.
If you don’t want concrete, the cost rises. Lamb says a small, low-end patio built with block pavers or flagstone, which is a natural stone, starts out at around $3,000. He says, “These are the two most popular materials.” He also adds, “We have built patios that have been in the $100K range. Really, it all comes down to what you can afford and your taste. But expect to spend $10 to $12 per square foot.”
The materials you use may cost more in certain states, but Lamb says labor rates should be about the same.
Permits and upkeep
“Permits aren’t typically required for a concrete or stone patio,” explains Hughes, “but will be for any decks or patio covers, like pergolas, and if you are extending the roof of the home over the patio.”
Concrete will last longer, says Hughes, and require less maintenance, “but other materials like flagstone, pavers, or brick can be more visually appealing and have more character.” However, these require more prep work, upfront cost, and some need regular maintenance, he explains.
Don’t forget to clean up!
Most people don’t think about cleaning up after the patio is built, says Lamb. “Most times contractors don’t add in finish grading, sodding, or seeding after they are done, typically because they don’t do that type of work. But you have to remember; there will be heavy equipment coming in and out of your backyard for a few days or weeks. Ask your contractor if they can handle this for you and add it into the price so you’re not surprised.”
He adds that you should also think about landscaping for the new area.
How to build a patio and get it done right
Lamb suggests hiring someone who knows exactly what they are doing and will warranty their work. “There is so much that can go wrong with a patio that paying the cheapest contractor you find is the worst idea. We have been called to come replace paver patios that have settled because the original builders didn’t know what they were doing–patios that were only months old.”
Make sure to ask the contractor for examples of their previous work or references, he advises.
Hughes suggests that you make sure access to the patio area is easy and that your expectations are clear. “Your contractor is more likely to provide an accurate bid if they know exactly what you want and expect from the project. If you like one contractor more than another but they have a higher bid, you can always tell them and ask them to price match — but don’t hold a grudge if they won’t.”
Financing options for a patio
If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for your patio, consider a home equity loan, home improvement loan, or personal loan to pay for your addition.
Home equity loan
How it works
You use the equity in your home to fund a patio installation with a home equity loan (HEL) or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). First, check out how much equity is available and what the terms of a home equity loan would be.
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How it works
Credit cards can quickly provide the funds you need to begin building your patio. Because of high interest rates, however, you may end up spending more money to pay it off than what the patio is worth. That’s why you should only use a credit card for smaller home improvement projects costing less than $15,000.
That being said, begin by looking at low-interest credit cards when shopping around, as well as credit cards with interest-free introductory periods. The latter allows you to avoid paying interest on your purchase for a set period. This is helpful for larger purchases, such as a patio installation, which you don’t have the cash to pay for on the spot.
To review and compare all credit card rates, click here.
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How it works
Consider taking out a personal loan to fund your patio. A personal loan, unlike a credit card, has a set time limit and must be paid off during that term. If you have good credit (a FICO score of 700 and up), you’ll have a better chance of getting a low interest rate.
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Figuring out a way to finance your home improvement project can be a stressful task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you find that a personal loan is the best route for you to take, use SuperMoney’s loan offer engine to find the best option for you. Then, head on over to our reviews page to compare rates and terms from all the top lenders.