Backyards got an overhaul in 2020, across Sacramento, the Bay Area, and beyond. In fact, a study from Home Innovation Research Labs found that outdoor home improvement projects increased as much as 21 percent from 2019 to 2020. People went all out with updated outdoor kitchens, relaxation lounges, and even added spas. Now, people are wondering if that backyard oasis is going to have staying power to bring a return on investment at sale time. Here are some insights about backyard upgrades and how much they might be worth now, and in the future.

Hot tubs

Homeowners looking to take their relaxation up a notch went for the ultimate luxury by adding an inground hot tub. While this backyard addition comes at a high price (upwards of $25,000 or more), nationally, the amount of value that an inground hot tub adds to a home has increased 71 percent since the arrival of Covid-19. Agents estimate that buyers will pay nearly $8,000 more for a home with a hot tub in California, whereas before Covid, this number was around $5,000. Freestanding hot tubs, which are a bit less of an investment (which can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 and also are not considered part of the property value), may be a better investment in the end. Before Covid, buyers in California were said to pay around $1,400 more for a home with a hot tub, while post-Covid that number is around $2,100.

Outdoor kitchens

In the midst of Covid-19, outdoor grills got an upgrade too, with the addition of refrigerators, extra prep countertops, bars, and even full ranges. According to agent insights, the value of an outdoor kitchen increased from an estimated more than $6,000 to nearly $10,000. Moreover, agents report that buyers will pay the most for an outdoor kitchen in the Pacific region at more than $12,000. The question about whether or not they will bring a return on investment depends on how extravagant the kitchen upgrade was. HomeAdvisor estimates that an outdoor kitchen upgrade could cost anywhere from $5,500 for a basic upgrade to $22,000 for something that’s more involved. That means that the return on investment when selling a home largely depends on many factors including the initial costs of materials and installation.


Decks, which first gained popularity in the 1980s, had a comeback in 2020. Across the country, post-vaccine, a deck now adds an average of $7,014 to a home sale, compared to $4,252 pre-Covid-19. The biggest increase in deck value is seen in our Pacific region, where decks are now worth nearly $10,000, compared to a little more than $5,000. With HomeGuide estimating that the cost to build a deck is between $4,380 and $10,080, it’s possible that a homeowner could get back 97 percent of the money put in.

With any of these backyard editions, the return on investment depends on a lot of factors. A real estate agent can advise you about how much your Covid-19 backyard oasis might really add to your home sale in the future.

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