Planning Your Perfect Outdoor Kitchen
If you are planning an outdoor kitchen, you may be stressing about things like budget, contractor selection, and the layout of the kitchen. If you go into the project with a good plan, you can avoid most of the stress involved and stay focused on the end result; your new outdoor kitchen!
Think about things as simple as the existing light at one given location compared to another. Nearby patio umbrella lights probably do not give you enough light to cook by, but a nearby sconce might. or you might have to think about adding some light and incorporate that into your plan.
Many people decide they need or want an outdoor kitchen, then they throw themselves into thinking about how big they want the outdoor kitchen to be and all the different appliances they want to have. Then they get a few estimates and are shocked at the price, even though they had no way of knowing what the price should be!
If you just do some homework both in the design area as well as learning what outdoor appliances cost, the outdoor kitchen plans will come together much more smoothly.
When you call outdoor kitchen contractors to get their design ideas and prices for the job, you may find yourself telling them you want a cabinet of such and such a length, with a grill and refrigerator. Then you ask how much that will cost.
Of course, the contractor will have no way of giving you a price since you gave him so little information.
For example, will the counter tops be tile, granite, or some other solid surface? What size and quality grill do you want, and what features do you want it to have? You want a refrigerator, but what kind do you want?
The prices vary greatly depending on how you answer all of these questions.
For that reason, know what you want before you call contractors to give you prices. By doing this you will know if their price is fair, and at the same time you will not be wasting anyone’s time.
It makes the most sense to examine your space when developing outdoor kitchen ideas. There is no sense creating a wish list of outdoor appliances and then realizing you do not have room for them. You probably already know where you want to put the outdoor kitchen.
But have you through the location through? Is electric available at the location, and if not, how far to bring it into the kitchen area. Think through the same thing with any plumbing needs.
If you want a sink and there is no plumbing at the kitchen location, try to learn about your plumbing options from a plumber prior to having the outdoor kitchen contractor price them.
Getting water, and particularly a drain into the area can be very expensive, expensive enough to have you rethink whether you really want that sink. But it does not cost anything to find out your options.
OK, so you have a location in mind. Now you have to figure out how much cabinet space you have, then determine if the appliances you want will fit. For example, let’s say you have a 12 foot length of cabinet space available. You want a grill, side burner, refrigerator, and sink.
Grills vary in size from 27 inches to 60 inches. Most people are fine with something in the 27 inch to 36 inch range. Only consider going larger than this if you do a LOT of entertaining.
Let’s say you want a 36 inch grill. A standard side burner is 12 inches wide, most outdoor refrigerators are 24 inches wide, and you can allow 20 inches for the sink. You have almost 8 feet worth of equipment width in a 12 foot length so even when you allow a bit of room between appliances you still have plenty of space.
Now, how much will this outdoor kitchen cost? Again, let’s look at the equipment.
The grill price will depend on the brand and features of the outdoor kitchen grill. If you want a grill with lights and a rotisserie it will be more expensive than one without those things.
But an even bigger factor is the brand because the brand will determine the level of quality. You want a grill made from 304 stainless steel. This is a type of stainless steel that will not rust. It is more expensive, but most brands will come with a lifetime warranty against rust.
So, depending on those things mentioned already, this grill will cost you anywhere from $1200 to $4000. That is a wide range, so it definitely pays to do your homework.
Next comes the refrigerator. A stainless steel refrigerator that is UL approved for outdoor use will range from $1300 to $3000, again depending on brand. I see no reason to purchase the higher level when it comes to outdoor rated refrigerators.
The warranties are all pretty much the same, and they are all stainless steel wrapped and will not rust. My suggestion is to save money here and spend a bit more on the grill.
The double burner will cost somewhere in the $400 to $1000 range, again depending on brand.
One quirk of these is the less expensive brands tend to have very little adjustment in their flame levels. They tend to have high, even when you put them on low. This can get frustrating when you are trying to simmer something.
OK, so now you have a good idea of what your equipment will cost, right? Um, wrong.
Combined, these 4 outdoor appliances can cost you anywhere from $3200 to $8300! That is a huge variance.
This is why you have to do your own homework. Only you can decide what level of appliance and what price point you are comfortable with, so you should have a good understanding of these things prior to calling in contractors.
Once you decide on the appliance package, you can start to get some prices for completed outdoor kitchens.
Call in at least 3 contractors and let them draw and propose the project. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples. Are the cabinets constructed similarly?
There is a big difference between concrete cabinetry and wooden cabinetry. Concrete will last a lifetime while the other may only last couple of years. Also be sure they are pricing the same kinds of appliances.
You have already seen the huge price differences in outdoor appliances, so the only fair way to compare overall pricing is to take this into account.
Be sure to get references. Any contractor who cannot or will not provide them is not someone you want to deal with. Ask to go see a completed project or two. Past customers are a good contractor’s best source of advertising.
And finally, don’t discount your gut feeling about the contractor as an individual. Some people are just easier to talk to and deal with and that is worth some amount of money, even if they are at a higher price point. But again, only you can decide just how much that is worth.
Once you finally have your design,you can begin to get into color schemes and other, more style related things. Some people like to match the pool tile, while others like to match the patio chair cushions. it is a very personal process, so take your time. Some people love the look of outdoor stainless steel cabinets, while others prefer the look of stone or stucco.
If you follow these steps and stay disciplined in your approach, you can take the stress out of all phases of your outdoor kitchen project. When it is finished, you will be able to truly enjoy it with no nagging questions about whether you handled it the right way.
Instead, you can send out the invitations to your neighbors for the inaugural party at your new outdoor kitchen!