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Sweet Spring air is sweeping across front yards around the nation. And many argue that there's no better place to enjoy a glass of tea and a chat with the neighbors than on a porch.

In this article we'll look at the benefits, and drawbacks, of adding a porch, deck, or patio to your home.

The first thought that springs to mind for many potential porchers is money. How much will this new addition cost? The answer is that it varies. A large multi-tiered deck will of course cost more than a simple stone patio. A 10 x 12 foot wood deck will probably set you back anywhere from $500 to $1000, if you do the work yourself.

But labor and materials are extremely affordable right now. So even if you are not an ambitious do-it-yourselfer, you could still have a new addition for less than a couple thousand dollars. The more expensive supplies, like redwood and teak decking, however, will add cost to any project. They mean a 10 x 12 deck will suddenly be bumped into the $6,000 or $7,000 range.

Does a porch add value to your home? Will you make money back during resale? The answer to both questions is yes! If you add usable, liveable space to a home, you add value.

The key is to keep your improvements in line with the values of your neighborhood. If you add a $20,000 redwood deck to your home, you can't expect a buyer to pay $20,000 more for your home when they can buy a comparable home with a regular deck for a fraction of the cost. You want to keep up with the Joneses, but not outdo them.

And if you keep your improvements in line with the comparables of the neighborhood, then you'll be sure not to over-improve yourself for resale.

And patios can be another great alternative, especially if you have a level backyard. Paver, brick, and flagstone patios have grown by leaps and bounds in popularity over the last decade. But don't forget about the newcomer -- stamped concrete!

MSN real estate says, "Outdoor living spaces can increase your home's appeal at a lower cost than an additional room."

According to the annual Cost vs. Value survey, a site that compares the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale, a typical American homeowner who adds a wood deck could recoup 72.8 percent at resale. This is a higher return than for bathroom or kitchen remodels. In fact, it is one of the best returns found in the whole survey. (You can see more values at the remodeling site.)

All figures and numbers aside, it really comes down to the joy of a porch. Having a space to enjoy nature comfortably is always an asset, no matter the price.

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