A full budget breakdown of how much our exterior remodel and backyard renovation cost, why we hired a few contractors, and what outdoor projects you can do yourself to save money.
Technically, our backyard renovation still has one or two little projects for it to be deemed “officially finished”, but considering all of the things we’ve done to our exterior over the years, now seemed like a good time to walk through all of the nitty gritty budget stuff.
Every time we finish a project out here, I’m asked the question, “How much did that cost?” With the increased cost for building materials lately and the broad range of prices contractors charge, it’s so hard to know the going rate of those kinds of things.
So if you have any exterior renovation or backyard project plans, maybe this budget breakdown will at least give you a ballpark idea.
Our Exterior / Backyard Projects:
Exterior Brick Limewashing and Trim/Shutter/Gutter Painting
Back when we did our home’s limewashed brick and painted trim makeover 4 years ago, we felt this was a job that needed hiring out. When safety is a big concern that involves climbing two stories, finding a contractor is worth it to us.
For the brick limewashing, Hans from Reflections of Italy did a phenomenal job. He’s an artisan who studied our home’s eaves and overall structure to see where rain water would naturally wear away the limewash over time, and applied it accordingly to create the finish.
Limewashing Labor and Materials – $11,325
Trim, Shutter, Gutter Painting Labor and Materials – $2,900
Swimming Pool Liner Update
This was one we definitely wanted to hire out professional contractors for as well since we definitely didn’t want destroy a brand new pool liner that cost several thousands of dollars. When we bought this house, we knew the pool liner was overdue for a replacement. We used Edwin’s Pool Service, who we’ve used regularly for years any time our pool needs fixing.
Swimming Pool Liner Labor and Materials Cost – $6,800
Tree and Shrubbery Removal and Backyard Grading
Our backyard had several dying trees with some snaky shrubbery and drainage issues in the backyard, so we hired contractors to correct all of those landscaping problems.
ArborVision was really knowledgeable and walked us through which trees needed to go and which ones were the best to keep. JG Outdoor Solutions was amazing to work with for our grading and excellent at communication.
Tree and Shrubbery Removal – $5,800
Backyard grading – $2,100
Backyard Fence Replacement
This was the last project requiring the use of a contractor before doing all the rest ourselves. Removing and hauling away our old fence required a few pieces of special equipment that made more sense to hire out. Even though a Ply Gem vinyl fence is more expensive than a wooden fence, we knew we wanted one that had a lifetime warranty so we wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of another replacement in the future.
We used Gaston Fence for the removal and installation. Their communication wasn’t the best, but they did excellent work, so we were happy overall.
Backyard fence replacement labor and materials – $18,860
If our timing had been better, this pergola cabana we built ourselves would have been waaaay cheaper. Our TojaGrid hardware had just arrived when lumber prices suddenly started to skyrocket due to supply problems. Murphy’s Law, right? So the cost of this project isn’t at all typical and likely would cost much less any other time.
My dad and brother helped Robert and me with this one because it was a BEAST to build. I’m still sore just thinking about it.
Pergola Lumber and Paint – $1,200
Pergola Hardware and Canopies – $2,116
Backyard Fire Pit
We were so surprised how quickly we were able to get this DIY fire pit built in just a couple of days. It was so much easier than we thought it would be! We buy all of our landscaping materials from 360 Supply, and they are always so friendly and helpful when we stop in. We try to shop them to support a small business versus the big box stores as much as possible.
Fire Pit Materials Cost – $1,150
Bocce Ball Court
This bocce ball court is so much fun as an activity for people to play while we’re all hanging around the fire pit! We built it ourselves in a couple of days, and it really wasn’t too difficult at all.
Bocce ball court materials – $283
We did this project using this area hidden behind our pool’s bushes for practically free using project leftovers. After we finished the fire pit and bocce ball court, we still had plenty of gravel left, so we hauled the rest to this section of the yard, set up secondhand beer garden tables that Robert refinished (while I was inside with newborn baby Regan… those were the days), and made it a tucked away hangout space.
We were able to build this modular outdoor kitchen kit ourselves in just a day! This was definitely one of the most expensive features of our backyard, and I think it could have been done cheaper building if framing ourselves and using materials from scratch. So far, we’re really happy with this one, especially the quality of the appliances.
Modular outdoor kitchen cost – $14,795
We transformed the exterior of our shed a couple of summers ago on a tight budget using Sherwin Williams VinylSafe siding paint, new shutters, and DIY window boxes from scrap wood. The end result made such a huge difference!
Gym shed exterior cost: $266
Painted Concrete Pool Deck
On a fateful 95 degree day in July, we decided to paint this concrete pool deck and about died of heat stroke. But it looks SO much better than the old yellowed, cracking concrete situation we had out here before. One of the last projects we want to do out here is do concrete stamping to make this deck look like brick pavers. This has held up perfectly for the past year though.
(We did have our pool deck extended by having a local contractor pour new concrete to give us enough room to add the outdoor kitchen and pergola. That cost $500.)
Painted pool deck cost – $902
We managed to paint our back porch ceiling “haint blue” and install new fans ourselves a few years ago, which made such a huge difference out here.
Back porch makeover cost (without furnishings): $608
Total Exterior / Backyard / Pool / Porch / Shed Renovation Cost
In a nutshell, house exteriors, swimming pools, and yard improvements are ridiculously expensive (and it’s not even factoring in little expenses like regular pool maintenance / part replacements and furniture).
But we have absolutely loved seeing through every step of this process. Celebrating with our family gathered in the backyard last week during Thanksgiving was our “This is why we did it” moment.
We don’t plan on letting go of this house any time soon (if ever), so knowing that the hard work we’ve put into it is now paying off as a place where we can relax is the icing on the cake.
It’s been quite a journey, but little by little, we made it happen.
Renovating a house is mentally and physically so hard, and the unknown expenses of materials and contractor costs makes the whole process feel even more overwhelming. We hope by sharing all of the budget stuff that it helps you prepare down the road.