Building an Outdoor Kitchen
By: Steve Bonser
Living in a climate zone with year ‘round sunshine and comfortable evening temperatures makes one’s thoughts turn to barbeque. However, instead of firing up the grill and taking that delicious food indoors, why not enjoy it right there in the backyard? Creating the outdoor kitchen of your dreams is easier than you might think and a great way to add value to your home.
The popularity of tricked out decks and patio areas which serve as outdoor kitchens has grown substantially in recent years. A survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), found that homeowners view outdoor kitchens as a fun setting for entertaining and making dining a memorable experience in contrast to the indoor kitchen which they view as utilitarian.
Serving as more than just a place to cook, outdoor amenities such as firepits, pizza ovens, fountains, wet bars and pools create an emotional connection, elevating enjoyment of food, drink and the company of good friends. The survey also found that consumers want this special area to give them the feel of a room and a design aesthetic complimentary to the rest of the home. Among the must-have features cited were built-in cooking grills, comfortable seating, overhead lighting, sink with running water, stove, wet bar, cabinets, and a canopy or partial roof.
Here are some tips to consider if you decide to build an outdoor kitchen on a budget:
Find a contractor who specializes in outdoor kitchens
Among the concerns homeowners often have before undertaking such an endeavor is the chosen builder’s experience. Ask to see photos of previous outdoor kitchens they’ve designed and built. Speak with at least a few of their clients. It’s important that the contractor bring a depth of knowledge and creativity to the effort and having a solid portfolio of previous work ensures their ability to do so.
Write up an amenities wish list
To determine the design which will bring your outdoor kitchen to reality, begin by naming the creature comforts you deem essential to your expectations. Visualize how you will prep food, cook, grill and entertain in the space. If you are planning to have a pizza oven, fireplace or pit, or fountain, consider making that the focal point of the design and work back from there. Create realistic parameters for the project by measuring your existing patio and outdoor space available. The rough outlines you create on your own will go a long way in helping your contractor begin the design process in earnest.
Creating the environment
As with any addition to your home, the starting point is deciding on exactly how the build-out will proceed. The framing will either leverage existing features such as your patio or deck, or on an entirely new foundation. The contractor will advise you on the most practical approach for electrical wiring, plumbing, natural gas lines, and other necessary infrastructure requirements.
Choose your appliances
To maximize your enjoyment of your new kitchen and the investment you’re making in the project, review only higher end amenities for consideration. Installing top a quality grill, oven, smoker, refrigerator, fixtures and plumbing will result in the right finishing touch. Listen to your contractor’s advice but also conduct your own research into the newest offerings and latest trends. Here’s a selection of appliances to consider: Built-in or stand-alone grill (charcoal or gas), smoker, fryer, oven (electric or brick wood-fired), pizza oven, refrigerator, and sink with washup area.
Once you’ve finalized the plans and given the contractor the green light, take the time to review every detail for final scrutiny. Often a second or third look will uncover something everyone missed or a feature you’d like to reconsider. Having second thoughts about how often you’d use the pizza grill or thinking a dual sink would be more practical? Designs can always be modified or something added before construction starts, and at much lower cost and less inconvenience.
Whether you complete your outdoor kitchen just as summer begins or while the winter season lingers on, it will quickly become your family’s new favorite venue for dining, relaxing and socializing. Once you’ve enjoyed the delights of al fresco, you may find yourself spending more time outside than in. Bon appétit!