Outdoor Kitchen 101: Setting your Scene for Outdoor Living
Buying a grill and calling it an outdoor kitchen is one way to go, but what if you want more? Like a bigger space to prepare, ambient lighting, quality grill, fridge and more? An outdoor kitchen would be a good investment for you.
Everyone knows that the kitchen is the heart of every home, so why would it not be the same for your outdoors? The options available to you for outdoor kitchens are endless. More than 70% of homeowners who have outdoor space are looking to enhance their outdoor entertaining area with the goal to make it more relaxing and fun.
An outdoor kitchen could be the cherry on top for your home renovation plans, but, is not always the cheapest project. But it certainly will be able to boost your summer fun and value of your property. Here is how you can start planning for this project:
Mark the Calendar
Outdoor work can be done almost any time of the year but temperatures need to be above freezing, and no rain or snow. On average, the time frame it takes to complete an outdoor kitchen is 2-3 weeks on the short end and 4 months on the long end. Starting the process at least six months before you want to have the outdoor kitchen completed. This allows for weather delays and gives you enough time to come up with the exact plan that you want.
Set the Budget
As in most cases with home renovation projects, it's better to figure out what you want to spend in the beginning. And like all home renovation projects, your budget will be a meeting place of your financial abilities and what you need and want. Outdoor projects can range $15,000 to $100,000 depending on all the aspects you want. On average, an outdoor entertaining area can add around $30,000 to your home's value.
Draw up the Design
The layout of your outdoor kitchen can be drawn up by a kitchen designer or in some cases, even a landscaper. Landscapers can help blend the outdoor kitchen into the overall look of your outdoor space. And usually, the general contractor can likely assist you with the design.
There are a few things you should consider when designing the plan. For example, where you place the grill, sink, and fridge as they create the "work triangle" for whoever is cooking. Be sure to keep the area free of obstructions or foot traffic. The design is also important in relation to the strength of your deck. It is advised that existing decks will need to be assessed to determine if they can handle the added weight.
Hire a General Contractor
If you haven't already hired a general contractor as part of your design process, now is the time to get that sorted. Their schedules can fill up very quickly and it is a good idea to get your project scheduled with them.
Make note of the Materials
With the outdoor factor, material used will differ greatly from your indoor kitchen. Then you will have to factor in your style preference and budget. A bench for example, a single permanent structure which encompasses counter-top, storage, and appliances—is part of your design, common materials are stucco, concrete or stacked stone. You have to choose which one you want while also choosing something that fits in your budget. When it comes to outdoor cabinetry, don’t install too many as you’re not going to keep a lot of plates, pots, and pans in your outdoor kitchen. You need to design your outdoor kitchen so it will be able to stand the winter cold, which includes pipes and drains. If you're planning on installing a deck, you should make sure their is enough air space underneath so it meets manufactures warranty's.
Understand the Appliances
The staple pieces to your outdoor kitchen are most likely the most expensive, for example, your grill. If you're planning on installing this permanently by building it into a structure, then don't hold back on price. You want to make sure you have a quality grills because if it breaks, you most likely will not find one that fits the structure. Whether you have chose a grill that is propane or one that relies on gas lines, keep in mind that this will play a role in budget, timeline, and permits needed. Even though a propane tank will need replacing, gas lines won't be needed, which saves time, money and effort.
Unfortunately, not all fridges are not designed to withstand winter because they can not withstand freezing (weird, we know). Outdoor fridges work harder to maintain a constant temperature when the weather fluctuates and a high-grade stainless steel to reduce rust. Like a grill, a quality fridge is recommended if you intend to build it into the permanent structure. Don't forget the added convenience of an outdoor comes with not having a cooler, but the inconvenience of needing electricity ran there.
Providing shade and shelter from rain comes in many forms, some more extravagant than others. Some even give you a place to mount a TV for watching sports or a sound system. Gazebos or a covered patio with a roof are a great option if you are wanting full coverage. While a pergola or lattice, which provide some shade, are great for lower end budgets.
Have a long think about what all you want to be able to do in this area. Reading, playing cards with friends, maybe? You might need more lighting over the seating area as well as to prepare food. Hosting dinner parties? you might want more ambient lighting that highlights architecture. Want more of a dull light out from underneath the structure? Maybe consider a fire pit.
Prepare for Permits
An outdoor kitchen can get surprisingly complicated. not only will you need a building permit, but may a permit for refrigeration and lighting and mechanical or plumbing permits for gas.
Approval from a zoning department might also be needed. Definitely check with your local zoning codes to check what is allowed for your space.