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10 Things to Consider Before Building an Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is a great addition to any home, especially if you frequently entertain guests. Plan and design your outdoor kitchen with these ten handy tips.

There is little better than going out with friends and family for a nice barbecue in the summer. Even better is when that can happen on a personal deck or in the garden. They make great DIY projects that can enhance the overall appeal of the house and grant one more space for ultimate entertainment.

There are a few things to consider before tackling any home improvement project, and building an outdoor kitchen is no exception. Keep reading to learn about what should be considered before building the perfect outdoor kitchen.

Budget

The first thing to ever consider on a project is the budget. Is it something that is going to be a long-term project where things get ticked away a little at a time, or is it going to be one big, bulky expense? No matter what, it’s going to cost money, so a budget needs to be set in place.

A coin jar "budget"
A budget needs to be set in place.

Permits

Before partaking in any building project, check with local laws, ordinances, and any HOAs to determine if there are any permits required. Nobody wants unexpected fines when they just want something nice, so get those checked first. Most of the time if there isn’t going to be plumbing, electrical, or roofing involved it doesn’t need a permit, but locations and their laws vary. Not to mention, some HOAs are pretty picky about what can and cannot happen in their space.

Purpose

Determining what sort of purpose the outdoor kitchen is going to serve is going to be essential in helping decide everything else. Is it going to be a space to entertain or just a place to grill? What sorts of things are going to be needed to achieve personal goals and style?

For example: consider lots of counter space for preparation or lots of seating for entertaining. Add in features like a firepit or a nearby garden to help pass the time when food is cooking. In the end, knowing what sorts of things are wanted and needed can really help put everything else into perspective without going out of hand.

Size

Size is always a factor when tackling a big project such as building an outdoor kitchen. Not only is the size of the equipment and furnishings, but also the space it’s going into. Additionally, if the plan is to entertain, the number of people expected also needs to be factored into the size of the outdoor kitchen itself.

Electrical

Some outdoor kitchens can get away without any sort of electricity involved. Others, especially higher-end ones, are going to need it. While one option is to run hazardous extension cords everywhere, another is to just hire a professional to wire it into the house itself. The extension cords work if the plan is only to use it once in a while, and the electrician option is good for more sustained use.

A person installing electrical lines.
Some outdoor kitchens can get away without any sort of electricity involved.

Plumbing

Plumbing is the same as electrical. It could be done without, or it could be built into the house’s lines. If the plan is to build a fully functional outdoor kitchen, plumbing is essential for sinks and any other water features. Calling in a plumber would then need to be budgeted into the rest of the expenses.

Ventilation

Part of the perk of having an outdoor kitchen is getting to do things that can’t be done indoors such as grilling or roasting over an open fire pit. These things need a lot more ventilation than standard equipment and are going to need to be factored into the design and layout of the space. The good news is that there is going to naturally be a lot of ventilation outdoors, but there are still some issues.

A man grilling.
The good news is that there is going to naturally be a lot of ventilation outdoors

For instance, it’s not a good idea to put grills, smokers, or fire pits near the house or plants. They also can’t be in a space with too much exposure or risk damage. Keep these sorts of things in mind when selecting appliances and their respective locations.

Shade

Everyone’s love of the sun varies and so are their shade requirements. Shade helps keep things cool, but in wooded or temperate areas might not be a requirement. Some people want outdoor kitchens just so they can be out in the bright sunshine with their families and friends, while others just want the additional fresh air. Deciding what to do about shade can also help determine the sort of appliances to install.

A shaded outdoor kitchen.
Shade helps keep things cool, but in wooded or temperate areas might not be a requirement.

Common options include an arbor, a table umbrella, large trees, or even the roof of the porch. However, there are always other fun, unique ideas that designers can come up with to help beat the heat while still looking great.

Durability

An outdoor kitchen is going to have to be a little bit more durable than what’s indoors simply because it’s going to be exposed to the elements. Therefore, it has to be able to stand up to a lot of harsh beating from the world around it. Take that into consideration when selecting furnishings, appliances, and materials. Stone and steel are both popular choices as they are sturdy, easy to maintain, and are going to last a very long time.

Maintenance

As with every other aspect of the home, an outdoor kitchen needs to be maintained. Some materials are a lot easier to clean up and keep maintained than others. It’s a fact that is often overlooked for many projects but should really be considered. Is there enough time and resources available to keep everything in top shape? What would be easier or harder to maintain?

A man cleaning the grill.
Some materials are a lot easier to clean up and keep maintained than others.

Conclusion

An outdoor kitchen is a wonderful retreat in the warmer months of the year. They make for great places to entertain, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the outside world. Not to mention, there are certain types of food that can only really be prepared outside, so it might as well have a stunning place to prepare it. However, there are a few things to consider before tackling the project so be prepared.

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