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How to Build the Outdoor Kitchen of Your Dreams

An outdoor kitchen can add many benefits to your home. It will expand your entertaining space, get you outdoors more and increase your property value. With proper planning and design, an outdoor kitchen will add years of enjoyment to you Bergen County home.

It’s important to plan a kitchen that meets your needs. The cost of appliances and accessories add up quickly, so don’t include things you don’t really need. A basic outdoor kitchen design with a top-quality gas grill and countertop area will typically cost several thousand dollars. For a luxury kitchen with extra appliances and custom features, expect to pay a lot more. For best results, prioritize your budget and decide what’s important and what’s not, then find a professional outdoor kitchen contractor who can build the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.

Outdoor Kitchen

Things That Will Affect Your Budget

1. Cooking Equipment

The appliances you choose will have the biggest impact on your budget. There’s a wide variety of makes, models and sizes available, so choose wisely according to your needs and budget.

Grills – As the centerpiece of the cooking center, the grill is usually the most expensive appliance in an outdoor kitchen. There are many top-quality, professional-grade grills on the market:

  • Gas only grills – Cooks completely with gas heat
  • Electric grills – Cooks completely with electric heat
  • Hybrid fire grills – Cooks with a combination of gas, charcoal and wood
  • Wood-fired grills – Cooks with wood, but often comes with a gas starter

Optional Cooking Appliances:

  • Cook tops and side burners
  • Warming drawers
  • Griddles
  • Deep fryers
  • Rotisseries
  • Smokers
  • Pizza ovens

Many gas grills use both direct and radiant heat for superior grilling techniques. Direct heat produces high searing heat with fast preheating. Radiant heat helps to distribute even temperatures.

NOTE: An outdoor kitchen with gas appliances requires a gas line that must be trenched and connected to the main gas connection at the house. Installation must meet code regulations in your Bergen County, NJ area and must be done by a licensed professional contractor.

Outdoor Kitchen

2. Refrigeration Equipment

State-of-the-art refrigerators with energy-efficient features like advanced insulation, forced air cooling and variable-speed compressors are available in different models and sizes. These refrigerators provide food-safe temperatures for outdoor food storage.

Optional Refrigeration Equipment:

  • Freezers
  • Under-counter beverage coolers
  • Ice makers
  • Ice bins
  • Wine chillers
  • Keg tappers

NOTE: Refrigeration equipment is electric and requires power from a main circuit. A water line is necessary for ice makers, sinks and dishwashers. Wine chillers and keg tappers must be kept cold for proper operation. To comply with code regulations, wiring, outlets and water lines must be installed by a licensed professional outdoor kitchen contractor.

3. Accessories

In addition to major equipment, there are a lot of useful accessories for your outdoor kitchen:

  • Sinks
  • Dishwashers
  • Blenders
  • Storage drawers and pantries
  • Storage cabinets
  • Cutting Boards
  • Trash bins
  • Lighting
  • Cooking Utensils

Outdoor Kitchen

4. Kitchen Location

Where you choose to put your outdoor kitchen will affect your budget, primarily due to required utility costs of your selected equipment.

Outdoor kitchens located close to the house can save you money. Since they are situated within close proximity to the indoor kitchen, you can use the indoor sink, refrigerator, oven and storage to cut down costs. Kitchens located further away from the house must be more self-sufficient. They will require separate equipment, utility hook-ups and proper drainage. These extras will inflate your budget.

NOTE: Utility costs for an outdoor kitchen can add up to thousands of dollars. Electrical wiring and outlets, water lines and gas lines must be installed by a licensed professional contractor. They must be installed according to city building codes and regulations and require building permits. You can cut your budget down by locating your kitchen close to the house.

5. Kitchen Materials

The building materials you choose for your kitchen will affect your budget.

  • Building materials – You can build the framework of your kitchen with a variety of materials like natural stone (granite, limestone, slate, flagstone, river rock), or brick, stucco, concrete, wood and tile. The cheapest options are stucco and concrete. The most expensive option is natural stone. Choose materials and colors that compliment the architectural style of your home.
  • Countertops – Custom countertops can be made from natural stones like granite and slate, or brick pavers, concrete and tile, as well as cultured stone (man-made materials) which is considerably less expensive. Be careful to select materials that are easy to clean and maintain outdoors in northern NJ weather conditions, especially in cold winters with snow and ice.

NOTE: Check with your contractor to make sure materials are properly sealed for protection from spills and stains. Your contractor can help you select the best materials for your home.

6. Finding the Right Contractor

A major component to building a stunning outdoor kitchen is hiring the right contractor who can build the kitchen you want within your budget. Kitchen appliances, equipment and materials make up a high-end project that requires a professional contractor with expert knowledge and skills. When you’re investing thousands of dollars on your dream kitchen, you can’t afford costly mistakes.

There are a lot of outdoor kitchen contractors in northern New Jersey, so how do you find the right one? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Get referrals from friends and relatives
  • Get referrals from neighbors who have outdoor kitchens
  • Do an online search in Bergen County and Passaic County
  • Look for a reputable company with a long history in business
  • Look at professional qualifications
  • Visit businesses with a showroom location
  • Review photos of previous outdoor kitchen jobs

Schedule a meeting at your home so your contractor can see the job site and discuss your project. It’s important to feel comfortable and confident with the contractor you choose. At the scheduled meeting, confirm that the contractor arrived on time. Was he professional? Did you feel confident in his abilities?

Look for a professional outdoor kitchen contractor who listens to your needs and concerns for the project. Look for someone with honest, ethical businesses practices. Look for professional knowledge and expertise. Finding the right professional contractor is key to the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.