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Dream Gathering Spaces

Tips for Designing Year Round Outdoor Spaces

From Permit, to Design, New Home Builds or Renovations, What Can You Do to Expand Your Space in These Times?

With the demand for more outdoor meeting and gathering spaces, it mirrors our needs for our homes.  Whether you are planning for a celebration, Canada Day, or Fall and Winter holiday gatherings, having space to host, connect, and entertain in particular, these days does matter.  We need it for our well being as well as our mental health.   

Creating your ideal outdoor space while responding to the health challenges of these times, we thought we would offer some design tips and ideas where safe gatherings can happen and with social distancing in mind in the midst of changing protocols.   We want everyone to enjoy what they can do when the sun is out and seasons where hot meals and warm cozy nights viewing the stars and skyline are done together.


Best Time of Year to Build Your Deck and Outdoor Space

Spring and early Fall  are best for getting your ideas and plans drawn up for an outdoor space or deck renovation work. Depending on your space, February may be better if you require adding a deck covering or a gazebo as it may take longer to build and have it ready for the summer.   We have a design team ready to assist clients that will work with the permit requirements.  See our story and watch our videos about a deck renovation gone wrong without permits and how Sasen Homes was called to the rescue.


If you are hoping to have a year round space, August through early October is a good time to reconfigure the space for the winter ahead.  As weather is still mild, adding a cover over your deck is possible during the Fall for Winter use.  The earlier you have your design and contractor ready the better for all your year round needs.  

Planning a Weather Proof Outdoor Gathering Space

Being aware of your neighbourhood and your climate does help with how you create your space to be enjoyed year round.

Living in the Lower Mainland of BC does allow us to enjoy milder winters and there are many ways to build a deck or outdoor space with this in mind.

Factoring in your location for example, close to mountains or the Fraser River informs you on how to add or create a canopy over your space.   Winterizing your space in North Vancouver may be different for a home in Lynn Valley compared to Grand Boulevard even if it’s 5 to 8  minutes away.   Burnaby Heights compared to South Burnaby differs in humidity and precipitation in the summer, so the wish list of items such as a hot tub to an actual or portable pool might be different.

At Sasen Homes, we have designed, built, renovated decks, expanded decks, and created atrium spaces for clients.   With the awareness of weather as well as the need for light during winter, here are our top tips when planning.

  • TIP 1: Adding a Deck or Renovating One

Consider building a deck with amazing cedar wood ceilings, installing a skylight and/or creating a location for electrical heating are great options for evenings and during the cold months. 

For an open feel to connect with nature or your environment depending on where you live, a covered see-through ceiling is a great option.   Heating devices can be hung creatively or stand alone heating devices work.   

Here are some ideas from Pinterest:

  • Converting a Space to an Atrium or Creating One

An atrium attached or semi-attached to your home is a great option for year round usage.   By doing so, one can have a separate entry way for guests visiting and a way to bring meals from your home to the entertainment space.   In terms of heating, it could be connected to the main home system or done on a separate system for air ventilation purposes.

If building a deck is not possible, consider purchasing a Gazebo.  Costco, Lowes, Wayfair, Home Depot to name a few, have a variety of sizes and prices to choose from. It provides a space to set up your outdoor furniture to lounge on and/or entertain during the day and evenings, to gather around with friends and family to enjoy the summer nights.

  • Garage Conversions

A garage is space for storage but sometimes not used entirely.   This is a great safe option for a separate entry and entertainment space possibilities in these times.

  • Temporary Creative Spaces

If you are on a budget and a new build or renovation at this time is not possible, you can book an entertainment canopyas well as heating devices ahead of time for that special occasion.   Search for tent rentals on-line near you.

Costco, Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Amazon have 12 foot wide picnic canopies you can purchase as well as various outdoor heating devices.    Costco and Walmart sometimes offer a DIY outdoor sunroof but it may act more like a door entrance cover.

If you are planning to put a canopy on a deck, it may take more effort. With winter and wind, using the tent stakes and sandbags are necessary to secure your canopies.  You can get sandbags here or local hardware stores as well as on-line.

  • Outdoor Fire Pits

There are various shapes, sizes and types of fire pits to choose from such as gas, propane and wood burning. If you are wanting to have a wood burning device, best to follow your district regulations as some districts may not allow outdoor wood burning. Keep this far away from anything flammable. 

  • Insulating Your Deck

Many restaurants and locations such as Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Cypress Bowl are adding vinyl curtains to keep spaces warm with their permanent covered spaces and temporary tents.  You can hire a company or do it yourself for your deck or patio space.

  • Adding a Hot Tub and More

Adding a hot tub is a bonus and having it set inside or above your deck is based on your preference.   Many clients have chosen to have it next to the deck so that there is more space for seating and lounging together.

See our Pinterst board of ideas.

A temporary pool is great depending on your space.  See links for temporary pool ideas here:

A full backyard renovation that includes a deck and pool requires special planning. Stay tuned for a detailed article about that. 

How to Get Started?   

Permits Process for Deck Renovations, Extensions and Garage Transformations

At Sasen Homes, we help clients from conceptual design through permits and onto construction completion.  Get your check-list and vision board ready!

The time spent in the permit process depends on a number of factors; what municipality the project is in, how complicated the project is and how busy the planning department in that municipality is at the time of submission. Once you engage with Sasen Homes, we engage with the city on the issues of timelines for approval, bylaw and zoning issues.  We become your advocate and champion the whole way through.

Garage renovations may not require permits as you may not be working on any structural details that affect your home.   Check with our designer or yours if you have any questions on permit issues.

With regard to timelines, for design it is very much driven by the client, we take the time it takes to arrive at the design the client loves and can afford.   With summer approaching, being strategic and working with a team that can help you is highly recommended.  We love what we build.

From permits, to design, new home builds or renovations, contact us anytime here.  We look forward to hearing from you.


View our client “Decoding Permit” story below.

Outdoor Living Spaces
Atrium Extensions
Garage to Living Spaces

PINTEREST Garage Transformations 

Outdoor Fireplaces and Firepits


Deck and Hot Tub Water Features


Heating and Insulation Ideas