Mid-range outdoor rooms in New Zealand

Detached outdoor room with pergola, purpose built flooring and wicker furniture.
ARTICLE Libby Schultz

When does an outdoor area officially become an outdoor room? The quick answer, according to our experts, is whether or not you can enclose it. A mid-range budget allows you to create the most useful type of outdoor room – one that can be enjoyed year-round.

What to consider when creating an all weather outdoor room?

The most useful outdoor rooms are those that can be used for most of the year. A common mistake for DIY-ers is that they end up creating a space that’s too cold in winter and too hot in summer.

Getting professional advice will ensure your outdoor room is both located correctly, and constructed from the right materials.

A Zones landscaping architect, says that louvres offer great flexibility for spaces - the best of both worlds. They can be closed to protect from the rain and wind or to provide shade, or open up to let the natural light in. Some louvres also have the option of fully retracting back to the frame so you have space completely open to the air.

The landscaping architect's tips for louvres:

  • use screens to help create shelter from the wind - this could be as vertical louvres, a planted backdrop or a glass wall. the options are endless.
  • consider your outdoor furniture and whether this needs protection - if you do not have a covered space, do you need a place to store cushions etc.
  • consider heating to extend your use of the space into the cooler nights - such as heaters, fire pits, outdoor fires.

Landscaping experts advise that your outdoor room should be a destination in itself – and not a thoroughfare. If people need to traipse through your room to get to the garden, for instance, it will ruin the relaxed vibe.

What is the ideal size of an outdoor room?

If you have a little more budget, how big should you go? A good rule of thumb is to keep it comparable to the rooms inside your house. This will keep it proportionate to the scale of your home – a very tiny space next to a large home, or vice versa, could easily feel awkward. Another guideline is that your outdoor room should be no bigger than the largest room in your house.

You can also use your interior to help you plan the layout. Measure up the comparable spaces in your house – such as the dining room or family room – to see if a similar layout will work outdoors. Remember, you’ll need enough space to house your furniture, cooking equipment, and to comfortable circulate.

Interior designer Celia Visser says outdoor rooms are especially valuable for inner-city townhouses or apartments that can’t be built up or out.

“If you have a small kitchen or lounge area, an outdoor room is a hugely valuable addition – for both lifestyle and resale value.”

Mid range outdoor room with covered dining area.

Can I create an outdoor room next to the house?

The next decision is whether you’ll have a room that’s separate from the house – more akin to a pool-house; or one that’s attached to the house, loggia-style.

The third option – where the outdoor room actually forms part of your house – can prove trickier. If you decide to open up an exterior wall to create your outdoor room, you may also be opening up a regulatory can of worms.

It comes down to whether your outdoor room is classed as a separate structure, or part of the dwelling.

The landscaping architect says “check whether attaching your structure to the house will need a consent - generally anything over 20m2 (attached or not) will require consent, if in doubt ask your local council for advice. It may pay to have a local builder look at your house to comment, louvre companies can certainly give you advice also.”

The landscaping architect advises that when attaching a structure to the home or in close proximity, consider the architectural style of the property, the cladding, colours, materials and make a conscious decision regarding the structural elements of the outdoor room. An all weather space will potentially have posts, walls etc that will impact on the views to and from the house as well as the look of the home. You may be able to take cues from the home to extend style elements into the garden eg. stone cladding on posts etc.

“What is your roof line like? Often tricky roof lines can limit your ability to easily extend cover out. In this case you may be better to locate away from the house unless you budget extends to an architectural change”, says the landscaping architect.

If you are building your home, consider outdoors rooms as early as possible as these can often be designed into the house structure. Capture the water from the roof space created and connect this to a tank you can use for irrigation.

"There are several instances where you will need Building Consent for your outdoor room. It is usually required for any ‘permanent structure’, bigger than 10 square metres, and decks higher than 1.5 metres from ground level. Always check with your local council; and seek advice from your licensed building professional or project manager."

What are some of the options for enclosing your outdoor room on a mid-range budget?

ClearVue, from New Zealand supplier PSP is a cost-effective option for basic or mid-range budgets. It consists of aluminium framing and a plastic sheeting, available in either clear or tinted, with built-in UV protection.

The Eclipse Flat Louvre Opening Roof, supplied by Pacific Powder Coating, is a great addition to balconies, patios and pool deck areas as they can be flat, pitched, curved, angular or used vertically.

You may operate your Eclipse Opening Roof areas with the 24Volt Eclipse Linear Control system. This handset has four preset positions in addition to push button controller so the louvre can be adjusted according to your preferences.  With the rain sensor your roof will close automatically to give you an all weather outside area. Complete free-standing units start from $1,100 including the frame and control system.

Pacific Powder Coating's Eclipse Flat Louvre Opening Roof
IMAGE Pacific Powder Coating

Outdoor furniture that fits your budget

There’s no end of options in outdoor furniture in the mid-range budget.

Mitre10’s new 2016 range offers a range of styles – from mosaic tables and metal spindle-back chairs, to wicker-look, rustic teak, and natural cement-look finishes. As a pricing example, the Milano 9-piece table and chair setting, made from teak, retails for $3,699.

For a more structural look, you may want to include some built-in seating. Lastly, a mid-range budget will usually include some elements of an outdoor kitchen, such as a decent barbeque, benches and storage and an exterior sink.

Now that you have begun to make your outdoor room usable year-round why not begin adding a bit of luxury to your purpose-built room with some of our high-end outdoor room ideas. Just getting started on your outdoor room? Read our basic outdoor rooms project estimate?

Renovate Magazine Logo

This project estimate by Libby Schultz featured in Issue 018 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

Get in touch with Zones to discuss your landscaping project

If you would like to discuss mid-range outdoor room options and ideas for your outdoor renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Zones landscaping specialist. All Zones franchises are independently owned and operated.

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