Summer is on its way which can mean only one thing – way more time spent chilling out and relaxing outside. To do that properly, though, you really need a great outdoor space. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. We asked our NZCB builders for some advice…

Maximising your outdoor living space is a favourite Kiwi pastime, but in recent years it’s taken on a whole new level. The great news is that by approaching your exterior space the way you do your interior space, you can live your best summer life and add huge value to your property.

So where do you start? We like to think of your garden/outdoor living area as another room for your property. With that in mind, the first thing to do is think about how you use the space. It could be as simple as a good quality deck with some lounging furniture. But it could also include dining space, a kitchen or all-weather structures so you can enjoy the outdoors year-round. Either way, here are some tips from our builders to help you make the most of your outdoors, no matter your budget.

Outdoor kitchens

A simple outdoor kitchen is literally just a great spot for your barbecue – a summer essential. But to really add value, consider how you could extend your existing living space into the outdoors. Can you create a natural flow between your indoor rooms and your outdoor room? If the barbecue is your centrepiece, do you build it into a key area? How easy is it to get from your indoor kitchen to the barbie? And, if your budget allows, do you just add plumbing, a sink and benchspace outside to really make the most of those long summer nights?

NZCB Member Mike Craig, of MC Builders in Waikanae, says the key to a great outdoor kitchen is in the planning.

“Outdoor kitchens must be well-designed to maximise your enjoyment – it’s a considerable investment so you don’t want to get it wrong. Think about the best position for your outdoor kitchen and how often you will use it. Remember services for hot and cold water, as well as waste pipes, as sometimes the designs come later in the build.”

He says to consider noise and privacy as well, both for yourselves/your neighbours and any passing traffic. “Adding barriers such as solid walls or screens can block travelling noise, as well as viewing eyes.”

What about an outdoor fire?

Nothing creates ambience and brings people together more than a roaring fire. NZCB Member Phill Claffey from Character Building in Gisborne is a fan of Flare Fires. “They definitely make a feature for outdoor entertaining spaces and can be used all year round,” he says.

“Another benefit, depending on your council, is that you might not need a building or resource consent (always check with your local council first!).”

He also suggests creating some shelter for your outdoor room. “Think about the wind, sun and rain. Adding walls and a covered roof to an outdoor space means you can use it all year, even on the cold, rainy days. You are basically creating another room in your home.”

And a dining table?

We all know food tastes a whole lot better when we are enjoying the outdoors, especially for the kids, as the usual formalities of having to sit at the table can be relaxed. But we’re sure you’ll agree we could all do without the challenge of balancing your plate on your knees at the risk of losing a rolling sausage to gravity! Which is precisely why we recommend adding a dining area to your outside space.

Custom built-in furniture can take into account all your needs, including whether it needs to be folded away or do double duty. Bench seating can have storage underneath for barbecue tools or outdoor cushions, and will take up less space than standard seating. Not only that but if your section is on the smaller side, your seating can also double as a retaining wall or garden edging, creating distinct spaces for specific activities within your outdoor area. Plus, then you have more room for a bigger dining table for all your mates who’ll want to spend all summer in your flash new outdoor entertainment area!

Now is the perfect time to get your summer under way, so click here to find your local NZCB builder and get cracking.