If you are someone who loves being outdoors, building an outdoor kitchen for yourself is an awesome home improvement. Being able to prep and cook right where you entertain and party is not only convenient, but it is functional. With a complete outdoor kitchen, you can take things off the grill and immediately serve them or even jump in the pool in between burger flips.
When it comes to an outdoor kitchen, you can have a general contractor create one for you or you can actually DIY this project. In fact, many people do. Below, we will discuss what an outdoor kitchen is, how you can build one, and things to think about as you start the process.
What Exactly Is an Outdoor Kitchen?
An outdoor kitchen is one that has amenities of an indoor kitchen. While your outdoor kitchen does not have to look like your interior one, you will find that a true outdoor kitchen will have utilities running to it such as water and gas. It will also have a sink, cooking space, serving space, and storage cabinets. Outdoor kitchens are built into place and are not moveable like a grill or small grill area is.
What to Think About Before You Start Building an Outdoor Kitchen
The type of outdoor kitchen you construct will be dependent on several factors such as the layout of your yard, your budget, and your personal style. If you are someone who likes to entertain and throw parties, then a full size outdoor kitchen will suit you better than a smaller option. Full outdoor kitchens include things such as a sink, built-in grill, countertops, eating area, refrigerator, stove, and oven. If you are someone who just throws a party once in a while or you just hang out with the fam a few times a year on the back porch, you can get away with something smaller. A smaller outdoor kitchen will usually include a cooking area, some cabinets, and a counterspace.
You want to plan for your outdoor kitchen to take about three weeks to build. If you plan to construct the outdoor kitchen on your own, you want to make sure you are experienced, as it can get quite tricky at times. If you are not experienced, you may want to hire a contractor to handle it for you. Even experienced DIY experts will hire a contractor to run plumbing and electrical service to the kitchen.
When it comes to cost, you can expect to pay around $3,000 to $5,000 for the kitchen and the materials and upwards of $10,000 for a complete and fully decked out outdoor kitchen.
Another thing you want to consider is where will you build the outdoor kitchen? You want to make sure you have enough room, and you want the kitchen to make sense and be near the home’s kitchen as well, especially if you plan to run electricity and water. The area you choose needs to be stable, level, and dry. You also want to look around your yard and determine if there are any competing amenities such as a pool, fence, hot tub, flower beds, or even buried lines. You will need to check out the easements, as this may affect where you can build.
One of the nice things about an outdoor kitchen is that you have room to be free. A traditional indoor kitchen has strict layout guidelines that it must follow but an outdoor kitchen does not. Of course, you do want to be wise about your decision and place your appliances in the easiest spots to run lines and access, but you do have more freedom.
Local Codes and Regulations
You CANNOT forget to follow local codes and regulations when it comes to your outdoor kitchen. You should take some time to speak with your local permitting office to determine exactly what codes you need to follow and the permitting process. If you plan to run electrical and water, you will need to have a permit pulled. You may need a permit for the outdoor kitchen without these things too, so be sure to inquire so that you know exactly what to expect.
Before you even dig into the ground, call your local utilities company to find out if there are any lines present. Digging into a line can be dangerous and it can cause a huge mess and headache for you.
Getting Ready for an Outdoor Kitchen
Before you jump into building an outdoor kitchen, you want to make sure you are prepared to do so. Below, we will help guide you on how to prepare to build an outdoor kitchen.
Research Your Options
You should first research the different types of outdoor kitchens available. Your kitchen will need to meet your needs and stay within your budget range too. Remember, outdoor kitchens can range from a simple grill and bar to a full blown kitchen with a sink, stove, and fridge.
You should first decide what it is you want and how to get there. Will a simple setup work for you? Do you need more than just the basics? You can then determine what is essential for you to have and what is a desire to have.
Look at the Space
As we mentioned above, assess the space you plan to use and make sure that it is a good choice. You may think that you have the perfect spot for the kitchen but in reality, it is the worst spot for one. For smaller properties, you may be hard-pressed to find somewhere to place the outdoor kitchen, especially an oversized or large one.
Make sure to measure out the space and then go over your list of needs and wants and see what will fit into the space and what you may need to forego.
Portable or Permanent
If you plan to move or you currently rent your home, you do not want to invest in a permanent outdoor kitchen. In fact, you would be better served with one that can move along with you. For example, a standalone grill can easily be paired with some portable carts that can sub as countertops.
If you plan to stay in your current home, a permanent outdoor kitchen is a great option. You can match the kitchen to your home’s exterior and even carry some of the design elements from inside to the outside.
Know Your Budget
Now is the time for you to set a budget and stick to it. You will find that labor, supplies, and materials can quickly cause your budget to grow. There are many options out there and you can easily become lost in what you choose. You should set your budget a bit on the higher end and then strive to stay under it. Some additional costs you may not have thought of include:
- Permitting fees
- Design services
- Professional labor
You should ALWAYS receive quotes BEFORE you choose a company to work with. Make sure to gather a few quotes.
On a side note, it is best to know how much everything costs first and then set your budget accordingly.
Know What Your Cooking Style Is
You will now need to determine what your cooking style is so that you can accommodate it. For example, do you like to cook pizzas, or do you like to flame-grill hot dogs and hamburgers? While it does not seem like a big deal, it can be quite a big deal.
Your outdoor kitchen can include a variety of appliances and fixtures to include a propane or charcoal grill, a brick oven, a traditional stove, and so on. You can make breakfast on the griddle or throw down wings on the grill. Knowing what you like to cook and how often will help guide you when it comes time to choose your appliances.
For example, if you like to prep your food outdoors where you cook, then you will need more amenities than someone who preps inside first.
Also consider the number of people you plan to entertain for. The more people, the more you will need to make it happen.
Think About the Environment and Weather
If you live somewhere that is warmer, you will likely spend a lot of time using your outdoor kitchen. After all, the sun is out most of the time. If you do plan to spend a lot of time in your outdoor kitchen, a larger kitchen is justified.
If you are in an area where extreme weather changes occur, you may be limited on when and for how long you can use your outdoor kitchen. In these cases, a smaller one is likely best for you.
Maintenance Is Required
Some homeowners may not know this, but an outdoor kitchen requires maintenance and the proper maintenance too. You will need to make sure that your surfaces and appliances remain covered to protect them from the weather and elements. You also need to make sure you clean the appliances regularly to prevent build up. Think about how much time you have to dedicate to the upkeep of this area.
Select Your Materials
Your materials matter and if you plan to construct a permanent outdoor kitchen, you want to use stucco, brick, or concrete. In fact, you want to make the kitchen match the exterior of the home as much as possible. You do not want to skimp on the quality of the materials you choose because these materials need to be able to hold up over time and outdoors too.
Constructing an Outdoor Kitchen for Your Home
If you party or entertain and you are looking for a solution to the constant running back and forth from kitchen to outside, an outdoor kitchen may be the solution for you. Remember, you can build an outdoor kitchen yourself, but you may want to hire a professional if you do not have the skills or experience needed to construct every aspect of it.
An outdoor kitchen is an excellent idea for any homeowner, especially as it can be permanent or portable. As always, if you plan to renovate your home or construct an outdoor kitchen, you may want to consider a self-storage unit to help you keep your belongings safe.