How much does a patio cost?

So… you’re interested in the addition of a custom-built, beautiful, paver patio or walkway to the exterior of your home. What will it cost you? It will cost you materials, time, and labor— and about a price of at least $3450 if you build the average sized patio (150 sq ft) yourself. Let’s dive into it:

It’s a Sunday afternoon, you have a cold beer in your hand, and the slight breeze rushes through your hair: everything is great, except for one thing- your neighbor has a beautiful, paved walkway and backyard patio; meanwhile, you’re stuck with the 40-year-old, simple concrete mess passed onto you from the previous owner. That’s not your only problem: this is the fourth year going on that your wife has asked you for a paver patio and some clean landscaping, so finally you give in. To build a patio you need extensive planning; which includes: the total price, the time needed, the materials needed, location of the wires under ground, permits needed, and knowledge for the proper installation of a patio. 

Say that you, and maybe your wife, made a stick-figure sketch of your house and a simple outline of your patio on that 8 by 11 sheet of paper. Maybe you’ve taken the next step and went to Home Depot or your local nurseries/suppliers of pavers. After days of searching for the paver that has the color and shape your wife likes, you go with it. You most likely don’t have the machinery or dump truck to haul this material to your house, so you get it delivered. For the average-sized patio, you’re looking at about $1200 for the pavers and you think ‘not bad.’ With everything backed up under the current ‘build back better’ regime, your materials will come in somewhere between 3 and 8 weeks. Some time has passed by and you’re a hard-working man, so you come home one day at around 5:32 pm on a Thursday to a pallet and a half of pavers sitting in your driveway. With these beautiful pavers sitting in the driveway, it makes your wife less antsy and you’re ready for the next step. The only thing is- it’s been weeks for those to come in and procrastination has become the habit so you don’t do anything with them for another week-and-a-half; all the meanwhile, your unsympathetic neighbors yap to you about how it’s an eyesore.

By now, I assume you’ve watched some YouTube videos and did a little bit of searching at this point in the process of building your patio. You go back to your local nursery and order (what you think is the right amount of) modified stone, construction sand, and polymeric jointing sand if you’ve done the proper research. With delivery fees and the ordering of this, it will be at least another $1000. 3 days later and now you have 2 more piles sitting in your driveway and your 2 cars are sitting outside of the driveway along the curb (your neighbors don’t like this, but who cares what they think? Right?!). It’s finally Saturday 8:30am and you get some landscaper’s paint (you most likely bought neon rustoleum) to spray the yard. If you have an existing concrete patio, you have to buy pickaxes/sledgehammers and make a pile of everything, and there is a pickup and delivery fee to dump this material. You could have pulled out your back in the process and it took you half a day to do this alone, not to mention the countless trips with the small wheelbarrow you have and the few times it got knocked over at a bump in the yard. If you don’t have an existing concrete patio, it should be easier, right? Well… not necessarily. Removing an existing patio gives you a bit of depth in the ground; whereas, no patio and just ground requires you to make the depth yourself. Hopefully you already have the proper shovels and spades; if not, that was an additional expense. You think you’ll get lucky so you don’t mark out any of the wires/pipes in the ground and at that rate, what would the neighborhood association mind if you have a patio built into your yard? So, you don’t check in with them neither. Hopefully you lucked out and we’re able to dig 7 inches in the ground uniformly for your patio. The alternatives are: you got tired and had the expense over a few days of renting a small excavator from Home Depot ($ hundreds) assuming one was available, you chopped up the cable and water tube running from you washer outside the house and now you have to hire people to fix that, and now you have tons of extra material you had to wheelbarrow to your drive way and get delivered to a junk pile. 

Next, you break your back exporting the modified stone from your driveway to the backyard and dumping it in the level ground for your patio. Shoot!… you didn’t lay a fabric under that so now weeds will pull through and it won’t settle properly… or maybe you did but you laid the wrong fabric. You will need a  geotextile-woven fabric at the base of your patio and running up along the sides. After you have laid the stone on top of this (assuming you bought the right type) you have evened it out with your spade and rake. Maybe you purchased a square, hand tamper to compact it so you use that for half-an-hour and move onto laying construction sand. Hopefully you have a compact measured height of 4 inches but you probably didn’t measure it after compacting it. Should I bring up that hand compacting will never work? Hopefully you rented a clay compacter (which costs even more and is usually unavailable). I should note that 90% of proper patio building relies on the physics of the proper compaction of the stone. At this point, it’s 7pm on Sunday and you’ve had a difficult weekend. 

Work has kept you occupied and drained for the following week, so you don’t get back to building you patio until next Saturday. How many weeks has it been at this point since you’ve decided to build your patio? Ugh… what a headache, but you’re determined. You go back to the web to search how many inches of construction sand you should have laid on your stone and every other website contradicts the previous one you read. You finally decided to put down an inch and a half, but is it two inches, should it be one, or maybe three quarters? Most of the time it should be an inch, but sometimes 3/4 in. You eye it up and get your ruler and wood plank to level it but it’s not completely level after you brought the sand to lay on top of the stone, but ‘it’s good enough, aye?’ You could use pvc pipes and properly screed it with a screeding board then use a trowel to fill in where the pipes were, but you’re already onto pavers after it’s been half a day. Now you go to make 8 trips with the wheelbarrow with 20 pavers a load to bring them all back to your site and you start laying them on top of the sand, but you’ve rubbed too much sand between some of the crevices and didn’t realize it. Maybe you lucked out and were able to lay them all without cutting any, assuming you don’t have a table saw to cut pavers, or you didn’t want to deal with it and extended your patio a bit to make all the pavers fit (hopefully you don’t have to order more materials). You think you’re finished and looks okay, your wife is somewhat happy, and you’ve tried to reseed your lawn but you didn’t do it right and now the april showers aren’t doing you a favor. Within the next couple of months your family and friends come over and slowly your patio unsettles if it wasn’t done properly, and now you’re going to have the additional expense of calling out a company to fix this mess. Hopefully the association didn’t fine you either for not getting approval.

As you can see, the cost of a patio can be overwhelming especially now. What do I recommend? I recommend that you get a comfortable living patio space of at least 300 sq ft; and not only do I recommend that, but I recommend you hire a professional because you will most likely save time, effort, and money with one. I personally attained a Landscape Design degree, I am ICPI certified, and I’ve been in the practice for more than 10 years. Building patios, walkways, fire pits, retaining walls, and more has become my nature. I know what to look for and how to properly give you the addition you deserve in efficient timing. If you would like a patio, reach out to a professional. If you have any questions, I will gladly answer them. I also look forward to giving you a free estimate, just give me a call at 267-685-6054. 

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