Technology is going outdoors and homebuilders must learn how to get the most out of it.
At our LUX event in October, Melanie Andrews, director of purchasing for The New Home Company, noted that sliding glass or pocket doors that open up the entire back of the home is becoming a huge disruptive design trend. This outdoor space can expand the pool or even the kitchen area.
Anything you can do to extend the outdoor season is a plus. This can be done by deploying screens, heated surfaces, and including fireplaces and pits in your offerings.
Expanding Outdoor Entertainment Use
Insolroll’s Oasis 2900 combines a shading product with a zipper edge system. The motorized ShyZIP system forms a complete seal on all four sides and provides insect mitigation as well as sun control.
“Most of the new homes that you see today at the higher level have some sort of outdoor living area that’s an integral part of the home and a major selling feature for the builder. They often find that in the afternoon and west facing windows, that space becomes unusable,” says Insolroll Window Shading Systems national sales manager Earl Cornelius. “Builders need to provide a level of comfort for the patio that adds to the whole experience and the number of times and time of day you can use the product.”
The motorized shades can be programmed individually or as a group. Insolroll can even provide an interface module for connecting shades to an iPad or home automation system.
For warmth on those chillier nights, fire pits or heat cones, like those from Lava Heat Italia, can be worked into outdoor design. Radiant heating is also an option here. Electric floor-heating systems from WarmlyYours combats cold from the ground up, whether you are working with tile, stone or concrete in those outdoor areas. There is a product to fit each need. Radiant heating is available in cable form for maximum flexibility or mat form, which allows for installation under concrete slab floors. For tile and stone, builders can choose between electric radiant heating, spot heating and cable systems.
This same company also makes countertop heaters for those outdoor kitchens.
Investments Worth Protecting
Outdoor entertainment and kitchen areas are big investments, so it’s important to make sure that the products in these areas are protected against the elements. Better yet, get technology with that protection built in.
All SunBriteTV products are designed from the ground up to be completely weatherproof. Displays utilize powder-coated aluminum exteriors, special outdoor rated gaskets and weather stripping, and all internal braces and hardware are either galvanized metal or stainless steel. In addition, all internal circuitry is protected with conformal coating; and input connections are protected by a special watertight cable entry door.
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For those items that don’t come with powder-coated aluminum exteriors, there are protective storage options. Danver, who also attended our LUX event in October, makes custom weatherproof cabinetry for outdoor kitchen items like grills and refrigerators.
The semi-custom cabinets are made of 100 percent stainless steel. The doors come with powder-coated finishes that help maximize durability, regardless of the climate, and minimize maintenance. Traditionalists can choose an unpainted stainless steel look with “protect-a-coat.”
What’s Cookin’ in Outdoor Kitchens?
Philip Zaleon, marketing director for Danver, says the company educates both the homeowner and the builder on ways to create an experience rather than just another place to create a meal.
“Many people still subscribe the old-fashioned notion that outdoor living is all about grilling at a barbecue island made of stone or stucco. Guests gather at the island [bar] and watch the cook hard at work,” he says. “Danver believes that the paradigm has shifted. Today it’s about the outdoor living experience—the cooking is secondary to the entertainment factor. Our customers create outdoor living spaces, of which the outdoor kitchen is a part.”
These areas include low, comfortable seating, such as sofas. In many a caterer will cook, but when the host cooks, it may be from the grill just as much as smoker, power burner or an Evo circular flattop cooking surface. Michael McDonald of Ryan Associates says pizza ovens are hot at the moment.
All Ryan Associates projects in California and Hawaii incorporate some kind of deluxe outdoor kitchen
or entertaining area.
“I would estimate roughly 25 to 40 percent include a wood burning oven/pizza oven,” McDonald says. “Our New York projects also always have outdoor kitchens, but wood burning ovens [or] pizza ovens are more of a new, but growing, trend.”
About 10 to 15 percent of homes in that market contain wood burning or pizza ovens. Concreteworks offers a line of wood burning Nido Ovens, shown here, as standalone units and kits.
“An outdoor kitchen, whether in a transitional room or in the backyard, is a luxury enhancement that a builder can use as a profit center,” Zaleon says. “A number of builders across the country are adding outdoor kitchens to their model homes and as transitional rooms and are able to add the cost to the mortgage, making it easy for the prospective homeowner to justify the addition.”
Some of these homebuilders include Standard Pacific and Toll Brothers, among many others.
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