Outdoor Living Space Trends in the South

Outdoor spaces are important to those of us that live in the South. Even more important than any other part of the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

In 2017, homes completed in Southern states like North Carolina and South Carolina were much more likely to include a combination of patio, porches and decks than homes in most other regions. Only 80% of newly built homes in the Northeast included an outdoor living space, while 94% of all homes built in the South did.

New Homes with Outdoor Living Space statistics for 2017 in the Southern United States - Chart

Maybe it is the relatively nicer weather and longer period of use, or the fact that we have a little more space available here in the Charlotte area, but it seems builders recognize that outdoor living is important to home buyers here.

Backyard patio in Lake Wylie with paver patio, seat wall and fire pit by Benton Outdoor Living

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Outdoor Spaces are Getting More Popular

Since 2010, more and more homes in the South are being built with some type of outdoor space. In 2010, 11% of new homes built did not include some type of outdoor space. But since then, builders have been including more fresh air living options in what they offer. This trend will probably get stronger in the years ahead since COVID-19 sent more people looking for ways to spend time or entertain outdoors.

2010 Outdoor Living spaces by percentage included with new homes in the Southern United States - Chart
2017 Outdoor Living spaces by percentage for Newly built homes in the United States in the South - chart

Waxhaw, NC backyard with deck paver walkway, fire pit, grill area and seating walls.

Decks – Holding Steady

Of the three main outdoor areas included in homes, decks are the least common in the South. And popularity hasn’t changed much over the past decade. In 2010, 19% of newly built homes had decks. The numbers decreased a little until 2017, when they rebounded to 20%.

In the Charlotte area, the most common places we see decks built are on sloped yards. Decks are often used to provide outdoor space in the back of homes with walk-out basements. They are also common on homes that don’t have basements but are built with significant downward slopes off the back of the house to provide some flat outdoor space.

Landscape Design of Front Yard of Charlotte Home with a porch

Porches – Becoming Less Popular

Since 2010, porches have become a big less common in newly constructed homes. While, this isn’t a new trend, many homes lack a front porch area. However, 63% of Southern homes still were built with some type of porch in 2017.

Front porch additions are not that common, but people do add porches after the home is built. Most common are the addition of screened in porches in the backyard, which allow enjoyment of the outdoor air, but without insects.

Grill area built into a patio and wall in a Charlotte area backyard.

Patios – What Home Buyers Want

The past decade has seen a significant increase in patio demand in the South. In fact, patios went from a distant 2nd in 2010 to passing porches as the most common outdoor living space in 2016.

Popularity of Patios vs Porches as included Outdoor Living spaces in New Homes from 2010 to 2017 in the Southern United States - chart

The biggest change in the popularity of patios has been in homes built with only one outdoor living space. Between 2010 and 2017, homes built with patios only increased from 18% to 27% of all construction in the South.

Why are Patios in Demand?

Patios are a great choice for an outdoor living space because they check most of the boxes of something homeowners want. This is more true of patios than decks or porches. Patios are:

  • Great entertainment spaces where you can gather with friends or family
  • Multi-purpose. Can act as seating area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor dining and more
  • Very low maintenance. (Not true of decks unless they are made of composite materials)
  • Relatively inexpensive to build. Porches need roofs and composite deck boards are expensive.

No Patio? – You Can Add One Now

Even with a growing trend towards patios, over 1/3 of new homes built since 2010 did not come with a patio. If you bought one of those homes or don’t like the patio the builder installed, then you can simply add a patio now. Realtors say that a nice paver patio will provide you with 69% of your investment when you go to sell the home.

Paver walkways with a grassy area and walls to create a private garden area in a palisades, charlotte backyard