Owner Builder Ideas: Outdoor Kitchen


Natural gas grills are getting bigger and better. Propane can be used but if an outdoor kitchen is planned as part of the owner builder project, natural gas lines can be put right into the home design, be bid on by the plumbing contractor, and be rolled into the construction loan.

Dining Areas

Don’t forget a place to eat once the cooking is done. Islands are a good option, but a separate area , perhaps around a gas fire pit is always nice. There are a number of options when designing the outdoor kitchen and dining area and it may make sense to go to an outdoor kitchen specialist to help design something that is within your budget and fulfills your needs.

Who’s Involved?

Designer/ Architect

The plans need to show the running of gas and electrical at the very least. It is best to have the whole kitchen designed with specs for your trades to follow. This allows for the bid to be incorporated into all subcontractor bids upfront and the overall project cost estimate.

Home Design Page

Outdoor Kitchen Designer

Because the outdoor kitchen and entertaining area is becoming so popular, companies that specialize in this are becoming more numerous. It may be advantageous to hire a professional to help in the design and maybe even to complete to whole process. It is definitely worth obtaining some competitive bids between some outdoor kitchen contractors and subbing out each portion of the project individually. Remember, the advantage is, you are already have subcontractors bidding on your house, they may include this portion at a reduced price to win the whole contract.


Gas and possibly water will be required for an outdoor kitchen. Gas is needed for the grill and a firepit or gas fireplace. Gas grills are the standard but having water in an outdoor kitchen is definitely an upgrade. Why not? Remember, if the plumbing contractor is awarded the bid to finish the house plumbing, doing this additional plumbing work is worth it.


A first class outdoor food prep area has a refrigerator, freezer and lighting, maybe even a microwave. Low volt options such as stereo, speakers and cable are also becoming popular. What could be better than a cool October Sunday, tailgating outside and watching the game? Discuss costs with your electrician up front. It shouldn’t cost all that much to get the basics, 2-3 outlets for appliances and some lighting fixtures. Costs do tend to go up when adding low voltage options.


The framing contractor may bid on building the base of your kitchen. It’s important for setting the rough openings to have your appliance package selected or at least the sizes of units. Many outdoor kitchens are built with steel framing. There are also kits that you can purchase. Hiring a specialist may simplify the process.

Cabinet Company

Should the owner builder have cabinets installed? Certainly it is worth investigating. There are of course weathering issues to consider. Discuss what type of options you have with the cabinet contractor. There may be a weather resistant modular cabinet.

Owner Builder: Cabinets Page

The outdoor kitchen will also need countertops.

Concrete Contractor

It is likely that that the owner builder will have a concrete pad installed for the kitchen area. Be certain to discuss any electrical or plumbing installation and preslab preparation requirements with your concrete contractor.

For more information on flatwork visit or flatwork page.


The landscaper will need to be involved in the layout and planning of an outdoor kitchen. If the owner builder opts to install pavers or flagstone instead of concrete, the landscaping contractor will normally handle that as well.

Owner Builder: Landscaping Page

Roll it into Mortgage/ Construction Loan

As you can see, a well thought out and complete outdoor kitchen, dining and entertainment area will require a number of contractors and suppliers and will end up costing a good deal. It is probably best handled by including it in the intial planning, bid and cost estimating process. That enables the owner builder to roll costs into the construction loan. If this isn’t done, the costs may be too much at the end of the build.

Owner Builder Financing, Construction Loans, Construction to Perm Loans


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