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Is an Outdoor Kitchen an Accessory Structure?

An outdoor kitchen is an accessory structure to a home that most often includes features such as a grill or stove, cooktops, refrigeration and some sort of wet sink. While the traditional definition of an accessory property does not actually include kitchens or cook spaces on this list, the term has widely been broadened for the purpose of describing outdoor kitchens.

If you are considering adding an outdoor kitchen to your property, then you may be wondering whether or not it is classed as an accessory structure. There are several rules when it comes to accessory structures. So, is an outdoor kitchen considered to be an accessory structure?

An outdoor kitchen is usually considered to be an accessory structure. There are some rules that need to be followed to ensure that it stays under the accessory structure umbrella. However, in most cases, they do fall under this category. 

In this article, we will take a look at some more information on outdoor kitchens. We will also dive into what is considered to be an accessory structure and the rules surrounding these types of outbuildings. 

What Defines an Outdoor Kitchen?

An outdoor kitchen is defined as a place outside of the home where you can prepare meals and cook. This is a convenient place for cooking, roasting, baking, or many other ways of heating and preparing foods. 

The outdoor kitchen will have some type of heating element or appliance such as a cooktop, a stove, an oven, or a grill. It will also usually have some form of plumbing such as a sink with taps. 

A man grilling outdoors.
This is a convenient place for cooking, roasting, or many other ways of heating and preparing foods. 

An outdoor kitchen is usually considered to be an accessory structure since it’s a structure outside of your home that resides on your property. 

The Benefits of an Outdoor Kitchen 

There are many benefits to having an outdoor kitchen installed. Below is a list of the main benefits of this type of structure:

Energy Usage

When you run an indoor kitchen during the summer months, this can make your house very hot and may lead to additional air conditioning or other cooling costs. Using an outdoor space to prepare and cook meals can keep the warmth outside and can help to keep your house cooler, reducing your energy bills. 

Reduced Smells in the Home

When you cook inside, it fills your home with all kinds of smells that can often linger for hours and even days sometimes. If you cook outside, this keeps all of the smells outside rather than in your home. 

Woman smelling her pancakes.
This keeps all of the smells outside rather than in your home. 

Great for Entertaining

We all know that outdoor cooking is a lot of fun. It’s a great way to entertain family and friends, particularly in the summer months. An outdoor kitchen can be a space where you host dinner parties or invite guests around for cooking or baking nights. 

More Space

There is usually a lot more space outside than inside. This is another aspect of an outdoor kitchen that makes it great for hosting events. If you plan on having a lot of people over for dinner, you can prevent people from getting too cramped in your home by hosting the dinner party outside. 

A person serving food.
This is another aspect of an outdoor kitchen that makes it great for hosting events.

Less Cleaning Up

While there may be some cleaning up needed for an outdoor kitchen, there’s certainly not as much as inside. You won’t need to worry as much about crumbs getting on the floor or spillages. Indoor kitchens usually require a lot more cleaning as spillages need to be cleaned up quickly to avoid staining and crumbs need to be cleared right away to avoid bugs, rats, mice, or other pests from being attracted to the home. 

Fewer Trips In and Out

When you host outdoor dinner parties, you can easily cut out a lot of trips in and out of the house by having your kitchen directly there in the backyard. Instead of cooking the food in home and having to carry it all outside, you can easily cook it all outside and eliminate those lengthy trips in and out of the house 

A family dinner outside.
You can easily cut out a lot of trips in and out of the house by having your kitchen directly there in the backyard.

What Is Considered an Accessory Structure?

An accessory structure is an outdoor building or structure located on your property and is used by the residents of your property. Every accessory structure must adhere to some local regulations. 

An accessory structure or building is associated with a dwelling. This is most commonly a backyard structure and it can either be attached or detached from the house. The structure must be used exclusively by the people that live in the existing property. 

There are some guidelines that need to be adhered to for an outdoor building to be considered an accessory structure. Below is a list of the guidelines:

  • They can only have two plumbing fixtures
  • They usually need to be open-air structures like a gazebo or trellis
  • They can’t be air-conditioned
  • They are not allowed in the front yard or in the front 2/3 of the side yard
  • One-story structures are limited to 12-15 feet in height limits depending on where you live
  • Some cities require permits for structures larger than 120 feet in square footage
  • You must obtain electrical/plumbing permits
  • Some cities do not allow certain kitchen facilities such as ovens, stoves, or refrigerators
  • They can’t be rented or occupied by anyone other than residents of the existing property
  • They can’t be used for business purposes
  • Properties with less than one acre of land can only have a maximum of two accessory structures
  • Accessory buildings can’t exceed 75% of the square footage of the main property

Examples of Accessory Structures

There are several outdoor structures that can be considered to be accessory structures alongside outdoor kitchens. Below is a list of examples of other accessory structures that you may come across in backyards at residential properties:

  • Pool House
  • Fencing
  • Garage
  • Storage shed
  • Patio
  • Gazebo
  • Dock
  • Decking
  • Pavilion
  • Home hobby station
  • Pergola
  • Home workshop
  • Greenhouse
  • Garden structure
  • Cabana
  • Boathouse
  • Playhouse
  • Swimming pool
A outdoor kitchen in the patio.
There are several outdoor structures that can be considered to be accessory structures.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many benefits to having an outdoor kitchen on your property. Most of the time, these structures are considered to be accessory structures. In some cities, you may be required to get a permit for the structure. However, this should be checked locally as every city is different. In the majority of cases, outdoor kitchens do simply fall under the accessory structure category. If you’re concerned, it is always best to seek advice from your local authority before constructing an outdoor kitchen. However, most building companies will be able to provide information on the rules and regulations regarding this type of work. 

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