Wow! Isn’t it hard to believe that we will be able to enjoy outdoors soon. As soon as the snow melts we will start receiving requests for outdoor beautification!

I don’t know about you, but outdoor spaces are where I like to go to retreat after a busy day, the place to kick off my shoes, and relax. If you’ve ever been to a resort or spa and wondered, “Wow! What an incredible place! I wish I could create this at home,” then we’re on the same page.

Outdoor living is an extension of your interior living space. As designers we think of the outdoor space as livable square footage that can add incredible value to your home, not only while you’re there to enjoy the space, but also for resale value.

"A National Association of Realtors survey shows more than half of surveyed buyers would pay a premium for a home with an outdoor living space.”
Dave Ramsey, of Ramsey Solution

According to a recent article in REALTORMag, “… these outdoor living spaces go beyond the traditional patio or deck and function more like indoor rooms with more comfortable and durable furnishings, fire pits, curtains, even televisions and audio systems. Screened porches are also increasingly popular since they can be used nearly year-round.”

Creating that Personal Retreat can be a pricey project, and it may not add real value to your home if the work hasn’t been performed correctly. At You Dream It We Build It, we have professionals who look after the nitty gritty details of creating indoor and outdoor spaces.

If you’re dreams have found you looking on the internet for ideas and suggestions, here are a few extras for you to keep in mind as you begin to plan your space:

A Good Fit…or A Sore Thumb?

As with any home renovation, you have to keep your neighborhood in mind. If you’re planning to stick out like a sore thumb, with odd shaped additions or peculiar features, or, if yours will be the only home with extreme high end features, you probably won’t get much return for your investment…so make sure you’re doing it for your enjoyment, and stick with functional items you’ll use regularly, as will a potential new owner.

More Isn’t Always Better.

Don’t make your new space so large that it takes over your entire yard. On the other hand, a large yard with a tiny patio won’t feel much like a personal retreat either. Remember to keep your plans proportional. Peek-a-Boo…I See You! Really?? This worked when we were raising children, but not so much for a personal retreat. It won’t matter how beautiful or serene you make your outdoor space, you’ll probably not feel like spending time in it if your neighbors are watching your every move. Your renovation should include a budget for nice fencing for your yard. (Fencing does add value to your home!)

One Size DOES NOT Fit All!

If you’re hanging out at the magazine counter at the local grocery store, and you’ve picked up the recent gardening magazine, CAUTION! Those lovely flowers you’re thinking about ordering for your personal retreat may not make it past a week in the ground. Our zones vary! Be careful to choose plants, shrubbery and trees with our blistery Alberta weather in mind. There’s nothing more disheartening than the withered tree after a cold winter!

Consider your existing landscape and how the home sits on the lot, and try to bring out the best in your particular site. And if you’re not sure…call us! We’re here to help.

We already have a lot of exciting projects in the cue, and many more on the horizon; things are moving quickly. If you’ve been dreaming of upgrading your outdoor living space, now is the time to start formulating how to realize it. We specialize in every facet of landscaping; from patios and decks to planting beds and retaining walls.

Take a look around. If you’re noticing your neighbors are hanging out in their back yards, enjoying the outdoors…it might be your turn to seriously consider something special for you and your loved ones. Outdoor spaces…they really are a Personal Retreat!

Safety Corner

With the fire tragedy in Fort McMurray in 2016, there is little doubt that emergency protocol has become a discussion around the dinner table. If not, perhaps it should be.

Every household should practice a Home Fire Escape Drill. If a fire should occur, this drill can help you and your family escape.

The Home Fire Escape Drill is designed to help families practice two escape routes out of the house if a fire should occur.

Planning and practicing two escape routes – one normal route through hallways and stairways; and an alternative route through windows or onto the roof – will help save the lives of you and your family. The alternative escape route is vital because most home fires start in areas of the house that may block the usual hallway and stairway exit routes.

Please take some time to complete a Home Fire Escape Drill: Carbon Monoxide and Fire alarms are valuable safety tools.

To safeguard against dangerous levels of CO gasses in a home, the installation of CAN/CSA-6.19>

“Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming Devises,” are required for all existing homes, inside each bedroom, or outside each bedroom, within 5m of each bedroom door, and on each level of a home. In keeping with the Alberta Fire Code (2014) homes require a smoke alarm to conform to CAN/ULC-S531 in each bedroom and in each hallway serving a bedroom.

  • Carbon monoxide and fire alarms must be interconnected and to a permanent connection with power supply (hard wired) so that when one alarm sounds, all alarms sound, with a batter backup and a Hush Button.
  • Check your detectors monthly to make sure they are working properly. Change the backup batteries at least twice a year.  Doing it in the fall and spring when you change your clocks for daylight savings time is a good way to remember. Change your clocks – Change your batteries.
  • Plan to assist family members who are unable to escape on their own and practice both your primary and alternative escape routes.  Never waste time getting dressed or gathering valuables.
  • Yell or pound on walls to notify other family members of the fire. 
  • Check to make sure all windows open easily and test doors for heat before opening.
  • Crawl on the floor or stoop low to avoid smoke.
  • Exit quickly and calmly.
  • Get out and stay out.
  • Go to the designated meeting place outside.
  • Make sure everyone is out of the house.
  • Use your cell phone to call from help – or call for help from a neighbor’s house if you haven’t got your cell phone with you.

Practice Your Plan Practice the Home Fire Escape Drill twice, once using the normal exits and then the alternative route.
Close all of the bedroom doors.

  • Set off the smoke detectors by pushing the test button. 
  • Family members should sound their own alarm at the first sign of fire.  Yelling or pounding on walls are examples. 
  • Always test the doors for heat before opening. 
  • Sweep your hand over the upper portion of the door to feel for heat.
  •  If the door is hot or warm, do not open it.  Instead use your alternative route. 
  • If the door does not feel hot to the touch, open the door a crack to see if there is smoke. 
  • If there is no smoke, exit the house. 
  • If you find heavy smoke, close the door and use your alternative escape route. 
  • Go to the designated meeting place outside.