An outdoor kitchen provides an ideal place to entertain guests or relax with the family. When you plan to put up the outdoor kitchen space, you need to consider various factors since it’s a significant project that requires extensive knowledge on remodeling and how to achieve outdoor spaces.
Today outdoor kitchens are popular with more elaborate features than in the past that increase your home value, ease your cooking, extend your entertainment and living space, and help you spend more time outdoors.
However, unlike the indoor kitchen, an outdoor kitchen is subject to extreme weather, and you need a contractor that understands how materials respond to elements. Also, the contractor should understand your lifestyle, cooking style and have the expertise to recommend features and amenities that keep the family outside to enjoy a culinary experience.
To help you pick out the best contractor to work on the project, you can consider the factors below.
In this article:
- Consider Licenses and Certifications
- Consider an Extensive Portfolio
- Find Out How Soon a Project Starts
- Interview the Candidates
- Consider the Construction Materials
- Contractor’s Knowledge of Appliances
- Examine the Contractors Project Planning and Design
- Determine their Professional Network
- The Common Outdoor Kitchen design Mistakes to Avoid
Consider Licenses and Certifications
When hiring an outdoor kitchencontractor, examine whether they are certified or licensed. A good company should have general liability insurance and workers’ compensation cover.
If unlicensed, there are chances they are uninsured, and in case of mishaps on the project, you will take responsibility for injuries or damages. Besides, in case they under-deliver, you cannot regulate such contractors. Therefore, you need to be keen on incorrect or lapsed licenses since such contractors tend to avoid responding to customer complaints after the project.
Consider an Extensive Portfolio
To confuse unsuspecting customers, some contractors can use fake pictures. To help you out, visit the company’s website and find a portfolio to get an idea of the company’s work and pictures for project ideas and inspiration.
Secondly, look at the materials, projects, and designs to know the type of contractor. Low-end kitchen companies have a handful of products and materials, whereas luxury kitchen contractors demonstrate they can work with various products and materials.
You need a company with the ability to work with your materials or complete projects with different materials. Finally, consider the consistency of pictures in their portfolio. Are the images of the same quality? Are there multiple images of a single project? Some contractors post images provided by manufacturers or rip the work of other companies.
Find Out How Soon a Project Starts
Reputable companies with high-end products typically have a backlog of projects in their queue. An outdoor kitchen contractor or company that immediately starts on the project should raise a red flag.
Reputable contractors usually have around 15 active projects, and when one project ends, the next in queue falls into their schedule. Companies that start almost immediately indicate low demand and instability.
An outdoor kitchen showroom indicates a serious contractor dedicated to offering the best experience to customers. When you touch and feel the different cabinet grill, syles, and appliances, it speaks volumes than browsing online or leafing on brochure photos.
Additionally, since the outdoor kitchen varies and each project is unique, the contractor needs to communicate enough to complete the work within your time and budget.
Interview the Candidates
After narrowing it down to a few contenders, you can set up meetings for interviews. To avoid confusion, take quotes from up to three candidates. During the interview, consider how the contractors answer your questions as the project needs effective communication for success.
After selecting the contractor that seems right for the project, examine the documents they prepare and determine whether they look professional. Also, scrutinize the contract whether it seems balanced and fair.
The written agreement should include the payment schedule and bid price, site plan, scope of work, a sequential program of the primary tasks for construction, a written list of procedural closeout, change order clause, an express warranty, waiver of lien, and a clause on dispute resolution.
Consider the Construction Materials
It is critical to know the materials the contractor will use since they determine the safety and lifespan of the outdoor kitchen. Therefore, ensure you understand their reasons for selecting specific materials since some are not ideal for constructing your outdoor kitchen to avoid compromising the quality and design. The island structure and countertops are the most critical to making the kitchens long-term investments.
Also, it is best to factor in safety as you plan the project since your family and friends need to enjoy the kitchen safely. For best results, the materials need to be high quality and non-combustible.
When they use combustible materials, you will need to include additional safety considerations. In addition, identify the ventilation requirements since most grill manufacturers give minimum ventilation to vent your island in case of gas leaks.
Contractor’s Knowledge of Appliances
Appliances are a significant part of the kitchen project, for instance, the grill, and you will need to pick out the right appliances that fit your needs.
Unfortunately, some contractors are not familiar with kitchen appliances and might request that you separately outsource the equipment, which means you research on the best companies that might need additional time you might not have. Also, the contractor might recommend low-end appliances to lower the project’s cost to make it appealing. However, the outdoor kitchen devices should last many years without issues.
Most contractors don’t work with appliance manufacturers, and in case of issues, you might need to handle them yourself. Having a direct relationship with the manufacturer is vital. You deal directly with an expert on your appliances and educate you on the best setup to meet your needs.
Examine the Contractors Project Planning and Design
Also, it would help if you considered how the contractor handles the design of the project. The design is essential in the outdoor kitchen project to link the functionality and aesthetic value of the kitchen. Therefore, ensure the contractor doesn’t fail on design. It is better to provide visuals to ensure you are clear and get it right before the construction, as it might be impossible to make changes later.
Before hiring outdoor kitchen contractors, determine their experience and work history to guarantee quality work. You can visit their website or ask about their work history and the number of outdoor kitchens constructions. It is best when they have many years of experience and can provide videos or pictures of such work.
Although it might not appear a big deal, the contractor’s experience makes the difference since, at times, they might miss the minor details in the outdoor kitchen. It is a problem in the long run and can cost you money to correct. However, when working with a specialist, you won’t worry about such issues.
Determine their Professional Network
Kitchen installation contractors might not be specialized in every aspect and might need a hand with specialized sectors like electricity and plumbing. In such cases, the professional contractor needs to have reputable subcontractors like electricians and plumbers that can perform the tasks that require specialized skills. Also, the backyard kitchen involves working electricity and gas, and a slight mistake in planning or connections might lead to dangerous accidents.
Some outdoor kitchen contractors suggest completing the kitchen, and you won’t even need plumbing services. However, this might be a way to convince you to contact them and then later deliver substandard projects. Therefore, find professionals contractors by viewing their online profiles. Also, you can ask your family and friends that have collaborated with the companies since professionals have adequate tools and skills to provide efficient services.
The Common Outdoor Kitchen design Mistakes to Avoid
Enjoying drinks and grilling out with friends in your backyard are among what you might do in the outdoor kitchen. Therefore, the kitchen needs to be well designed and set up. Below are the design mistakes to avoid:
1. Prioritizing Design Than Function
Homeowners need the outdoor kitchen to look great, and it is why they spend time on great photos for inspiration. However, having the kitchen pretty is not fun when you can’t use it due to inefficiencies.
For example, you might place the grill at a spot where it looks good, but when you cook, smoke wafts into your living room. Also, you might choose smaller versions of the counter space when you don’t like bulky models, and you end up preparing food in an indoor kitchen since you lack adequate space outside. Therefore, it is critical to prioritize function than the design as you plan the outdoor kitchen.
2. Lack Of Adequate Counter Space
Due to the practical uses of the outdoor kitchen, you need adequate counter space to place your drinks, dishes, and ingredients. Also, as you pull food from the grill or when guests finish with plates, you need to put them. To get a better idea, consider the space for cooking indoors.
It would help if you also had a sink and tap at the counter that are critical additions to the outdoor kitchen since constantly running into the house sink can be frustrating. You can replicate the preparation area in the house to the outside kitchen.
3. Cutting Design Costs In Wrong Places
There are options for an outdoor kitchen for any budget, but you have to figure out what you want in the design before construction.
To save costs, you may avoid spending on all appliances like refrigerators and ovens and have the fundamentals like a high-quality grill and solid structures. Therefore, make a list of your needs and wants to determine what fits your budget to avoid shortcuts in the end.
4. Not Understanding Proper Finishes and Materials.
Outdoor cabinets are not equal, and you need a material that looks beautiful and can still stand any weather. The handles, screws, and hinges should be resistant to corrosion. When choosing the countertop material, pick for outdoor use, and that doesn’t fade and is freeze resistant.
Also, avoid dark materials on the countertop as they quickly get hot with sun exposure. To help you out, you can sample the countertop, leaving it in direct sunlight to test. Your outdoor sink needs to be rated outdoors, solid copper, 304 stainless steel, or concrete synthetic. Lastly, the materials should require little maintenance.
5. Trying DIY
Although it might look simple, installing the outdoor kitchen need the right experience, tools, design, materials, and time. You might be tempted by saving on costs to handle the work yourself but end up spending more in the end as you might hire a professional to fix your mistakes or pay later for additional repairs from poor construction.
6. Picking The Wrong Location
For the project, you need a nice spot in the outdoor area with adequate space. The kitchen shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight and, when possible, should be the least windy area. Also, examine the kitchen surroundings and its proximity to your house because you need adequate space for people to congregate and enough space to move around when in the kitchen.
Nobody wants to feel cold, and you can ensure the kitchen has some heat source as you might need to heat seating areas and install retractable covers for cooler months.
7. Installing Cooling And Cooking Appliances Close Together
When designing the outdoor kitchen, you need to separate your cooking appliances from the cooling devices. Avoid installing the refrigerator adjacent or underneath your grill since excess heat means it will work harder than it needs to.
Overheating the internal parts can cause them to fail. If you have a tight space, you can install one foot from the side burner or grill. Moreover, ensure a solid barrier between appliances in the island structure since your devices will operate at reasonable temperatures and last longer with a good layout.
Narrowing down to the right contractor is critical to a successful outdoor kitchen project. You need a company with adequate experience, an extensive portfolio, and is licensed. It will help you get the project right the first time and that which can last.
However, since the outdoor kitchen is intricate like the indoor counterpart, the homeowner should work with the contractor to guarantee perfect outdoor space. You also need to frequently revise your budget through the stages of your project to avoid subsequent surprises and miscalculations.