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Trending: Upscale Lots


Nearly twenty years ago, when ORI was developed, it was one of the first motorhome resorts built around a golf course (and still is). That was a huge leap forward over traditional RV parks which often use the word resort in their name, but really don't deliver on the real thing.

Beyond a grill, many early site owners added uncovered outdoor kitchens with sinks and a small refrigerator. Then came shade cages with Sunbrella covering. After that, soft coverings were replaced by much more solid framed pergolas with open lattice and fully covered roofs.
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The upscaling trend really started to take off in 2016 and, with a major rewrite of the Planned Urban Development document filed with the City of Indio, owner upgrade choices were significantly widened with the approval of larger lot coverage and fully enclosed casitas.

Today, the resort is seeing increased upgrading activity in every phase of the community. Many owners are now opting for permanent shade structures along with bigger outdoor kitchens. The most striking change is the construction of luxurious casitas that can include a bathroom, shower, heating, air conditioning, and full residential kitchen.
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Upgrading a lot dramatically increases your livability and entertainment options. Cooking outside is both a fun and interactive group activity. And, with full cover from sun and rain, along with screens and heaters, your outside time is greatly expanded both day and night.

The two most popular approaches to upgrading are a covered outdoor living space or fully enclosed casita. Getting an improvement project underway is really pretty easy. There are several reputable contractors who work within ORI who can guide you through the construction and zoning issues, and HOA approval.
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Covered outdoor living
Increasingly one of the most popular covered pergola designs is an "L" shaped layout offering covering for both a kitchen and patio space. Today's pergolas are erected on top of steel poles that have been set into cement footings. Aluminum materials (Duralum and Alumawood are two major suppliers) have replaced wood as they hold their color better and will not rot. Building codes require that pergolas are built to withstand high winds.

A popular option is adding motorized sun/wind shades. These offer two distinct benefits of improving the effectiveness of electric space heaters at night by eliminating light breezes that carry away heat and, for outdoor patios with western exposures, more comfortable and useable in the late afternoon. For hot days, ceiling fans are also highly recommended.
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Natural gas is not available, so fire tables, free standing grills, and built-in burner/griddles need to be connected to a propane tank. Kitchens are all electric and can include an under-counter refrigerator, dishwasher, flash hot water heater, disposal, oven, and cooktop (induction is becoming popular). Some owners have also built enclosures for a full-sized washer and dryer. Tile counters have fallen out of favor and the overwhelming choice is granite. While there are other counter products in the market such as man made quartz, there is debate about the high heat of the summer sun and the performance of these products over the long haul. Granite is the safest bet. For off-season storage most owners have custom counter and cabinet covers made to product the finishes and minimize the effects of UV light and desert dust.

Entertainment centers that include electronic fireplaces and big-screen TVs add a lot to afternoon and evening enjoyment. TV's are often enclosed behind electric tambour doors which block out dust and keep the TV and electronics secure.
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Finally, decorative pad surfacing techniques turn drab driveways into beautiful and distinctive accents that add a great deal of appeal to both owners and their guests.

Cost: To fully upgrade a lot with a large covered pergola, well equipped kitchen, sun shades, and deck surfacing, a good budget range is $75,000 - $100,000. Shade structures can run between $15,000 - $30,000 and kitchens around $1,000 per linear foot (not counting appliances).

Casitas
Now that ORI allows fully enclosed casitas, owners are wasting no time in getting plans drafted and approved. Casitas follow the same path as any custom home starting with architectural drawings, plan approval, excavation, footers, framing, exterior cladding, and custom interior finish. With heaters and air conditioning, casitas can easily extend another two months of use of your lot
A casita can add around 600+ square feet of versatile living space with full kitchen, washer/dryer, 1/2 or 3/4 bath, and both dining and comfortable seating space.

Sites can be refitted with 200 AMP service which is sufficient to run both the casita air conditioning and the units in the adjacent motorcoach
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Cost: like any custom project, prices can vary widely based on design and finishes. For instance, instead of motorized shade screens, retractable glass walls/doors can be installed which can add $25,000 to $70,000 of additional cost. A good budget range for construction costs is between $200,000 - $300,000, plus the cost of the lot.
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Final thoughts
Improving an ORI lot not only potentially builds value over time, it will significantly elevate your seasonal outdoor living enjoyment. An upgraded pergola design or fully enclosed casita, plus your own motorhome, combine for a unique and cost-effective second home strategy that gives you flexible options that traditional real estate simply doesn't offer.