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Design Considerations for Outdoor Living Spaces – Part 1

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Outdoor living space is a great home feature that will increase your home’s value.  It creates an outdoor focal point that will draw you outdoors and provides entertainment and recreation space throughout the year.  Whether you choose to relax with family or entertain with friends, an outdoor living space will add value and years of outdoor enjoyment to your home.  Adding an outdoor kitchen or fireplace to your backyard is a project that requires proper planning for successful results. This is a four-part series of blogs detailing these factors to help you design the best outcome for your outdoor living space. 

Location of Outdoor Living Spaces

The first consideration when planning to build an outdoor living space is location. Your backyard focal point is going to be a popular, heavily trafficked area. Will you locate it adjacent to your home, on a deck or patio, or set it further into the backyard, in a separate seating area?  How big is your yard? The size, design and overall appearance of your fireplace should be proportioned to comfortably fit the size of your yard. If your backyard is small, build a smaller fireplace for a more intimate setting.  If you have a large yard with a pool, a pool house or a hot tub area, you need a large fireplace that will balance the scale of your property. With a large yard, you may want to consider an outdoor kitchen or relaxing waterfall near your outdoor fireplace as an additional feature.

Also, make sure you plan for utilities.  When planning location, keep in mind the placement or installation of the gas, water and electrical supply.

 Expert Tips!

  • If you have a swimming pool, spa or hot tub, the outdoor living space should be located nearby for additional warmth and light.  Family and guests will automatically gravitate to the fireplace for warmth after an evening swim or soak in the spa or hot tub.
  • If you have a guest house or pool house, the outdoor living space should be easily accessible from these adjacent structures.
  • If you have a small yard with a patio or deck that adjoins the back of the house, you can locate the outdoor living space next to the house, patio or deck. This will provide an intimate setting near the house and allow your landscape to become the focal point.
  • If you have a large yard, consider building a separate patio or terrace further from the house with a large outdoor fireplace. This will create an additional space for entertaining with your fireplace as the focal point in your outdoor setting.

Building Codes and Fire Regulations

It is important to check building and fire codes for your home.  There may be specific restrictions related to your property. A building permit may be required if your outdoor fireplace exceeds a certain height.  Building codes usually require that the chimney height on a wood burning outdoor fireplace must be two feet taller than adjacent structures on the property.  That includes your house, garage, patio cover, and detached outbuildings.  

Zoning guidelines vary from city to city, but there may be restrictions on how close to the existing home you can construct a fireplace.  Additionally, many communities have side and rear property line setback guidelines as well as slope setbacks and height restrictions of taller structures on view lots.  Be sure and check with the local City Planning Office to confirm acceptable locations of your outdoor structure before you get too far along on your designs.

The size of the flue and chimney require calculated dimensions to make sure the smoke vents properly upward through the chimney and doesn’t create a downdraft that will push the smoke back out of the hearth.  Gas fireplaces do not require a chimney, but they do require a vent pipe and a gas line. The gas line has to be trenched and piped from the fireplace to a connection point at the house. Your outdoor fireplace must meet fire standards for your local area.  

Round Grove Products outdoor fireplaces are designed with standard chimney extension sizes that allow you to align your outdoor fireplace design with local building codes and fire regulations.  The Baha model design solely relies on gas log inserts or linear gas burners while all other models are designed for either gas-burning or wood-burning applications.

Outdoor living space with an outdoor focal point will draw you outdoors and provide entertainment and recreation space throughout the year.  Whether you choose to relax with family or entertain with friends, an outdoor living space will add years of outdoor enjoyment to your home. Before you decide to build your outdoor living space, take time to consider these factors and choose the best ones for your home.  Enjoy the experience of designing your dream space!!

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