So you want an outdoor kitchen, but you have budgetary constraints. Honestly, who doesn’t? Even people building lavish outdoor kitchens almost never tell their contractor, “Price is no object!”
But for folks with more ordinary budgets, those constraints can require more planning to make sure you get something good for the amount of money you have. So one of the secrets to building an outdoor kitchen on a budget is to start planning it well ahead of time.
Do Your Research
The great outdoors can be hard on furnishings and fixtures. Something some people find counterintuitive is that the “cheap” solution can cost you more in the long run.
Those cheap chairs may not make it to the end of the first season. Better quality chairs may last several years. Wrought iron is the recommended material for furnishings that will last a few years.
So if you don’t want to be bled by high maintenance costs, you need to look at not just the upfront price tag but the lifetime cost of the item. How long do you expect it to last? What is the cost per year of different options when you take into account the durability of different products?
For an outdoor kitchen, you really want to make sure you get a good quality grill that will last. This is the single biggest complaint people have. They routinely regret spending too little on a grill and having to upgrade it in short order because it just doesn’t last.
Use the Portable Options
If you are on a budget, you may find that one of the things that breaks the bank is trying to run plumbing and similar out to it. It may be fine to use a cooler instead of a refrigerator, and propane is a great option for fueling your grill.
If you aren’t putting a roof of some kind over the space, you may also want lightweight furnishings that can be put away without too much hassle. You may not want to pack everything up every night, but you should at least put it away seasonally. Cold, wet weather can take a toll on furniture.
If you expect to be able to do more in a year or two, plan for that. Maybe you need to go with low-end, temporary solutions this year, but you want to put in a permanent island at a later date.
Ripping up a cheap foundation and re-doing it is both costly and aggravating. If you expect to upgrade later, make sure your foundation will support your plans, too, not just your short-term solutions.
This is also an excellent time to plan things like extending water lines, gas lines, or electrical lines. Even if you can’t do the extension now, make sure you aren’t building anything now that will be in the way of those future goals.
Think of it as the idea of “Don’t wallpaper a room before adding new electrical outlets.” There is a particular order that work needs to be done for the purpose of being efficient and cost-effective. It should be done in the correct order even if the second part won’t happen for another year or two.
Get A Prefab Brick Oven
If you want a brick oven, a prefab unit is not only cheaper; it will go in much faster. Building a brick oven from scratch takes a really long time, even if you hire a professional. It typically takes even longer if you go the DIY route.
A professional mason can take a few months to build a brick oven from scratch. An amateur can take up to a year. In contrast, the prefab unit should be completed in no more than a week.
Consider Your Climate
If you are in a sunny, dry area like the American southwest, you may be perfectly happy to put cushions on chairs…. even without a roof. But if you are someplace wet and cold, you may want to stick with hard furnishings or prioritize devoting part of your budget to building some cover.
Not only is it a cost-effective approach, but it is also a low maintenance way to go. A high maintenance outdoor project isn’t a pleasure. It’s a headache that you may end up regretting.