So you’re looking to hire a contractor for your outdoor kitchen project.
Naturally… You want to know about both the positives and negatives of going the contractor route.
At this point, you’ve probably heard all the advantages.
It’s the disadvantages that are far more difficult to uncover.
It’s no surprise why!
No one wants to admit that they have blind spots.
When it comes to purchasing a product or hiring someone… You’re only seeing the best foot they put forward.
We’ll readily admit that we’re not perfect either.
But in today’s pursuit of the truth… We’ll be revealing the difficulties of working with a contractor to build your outdoor kitchen.
Before we dive in… It’s important to note that a contractor may truly be a good option for you.
However, you can’t determine this without knowing all the facts.
- Is Your Contractor A Generalist Or Specialist?
- Your Expectations Vs. Reality
- Reliability Of Contractors
- Sneaky, Hidden Costs Of Contractor To Build Outdoor Kitchen
- The Warranty Debacle
- Customer Service
- You’re On Your Own With Your Entertaining Space
- Isn’t A Contractor More Convenient?
- My Guy Is Local, Isn’t That Better?
- If Not A Contractor, Who?
Is Your Contractor a Generalist or Specialist?
When it comes to hiring a contractor… You want someone with significant experience building an outdoor kitchen.
This point may seem overly obvious.
However… You’d be surprised how little experience most contractors have with grill island construction.
This comes from the concept of a generalist vs a specialist.
More than likely… Your contractor is a generalist. They’re reasonably skilled in a wide variety of project types.
In most cases, this isn’t necessarily an issue. Being proficient in multiple skills allows them to better serve the community.
However… This is a problem with outdoor kitchen construction.
Unlike some of the other tasks your contractor may perform… Building a grill island requires an immense amount of skill.
This is where you’ll need to determine if your outdoor kitchen contractor is a generalist or a specialist.
Disadvantages of a Generalist
Working with a generalist is a pretty hands-off process… For the contractor!
Due to their lack of experience with outdoor kitchens… Expect that you’ll be the one driving the job forward.
In a sense, you’ll be your own general contractor.
Most of the time… It’s up to you to complete the research.
Your contractor won’t have a wholesale supplier for appliances. Nor will they know which products or materials are best for your needs.
So you’re the one who has to figure it out!
And to add insult to injury… Most generalists don’t understand the importance of proper ventilation.
This can be a significant safety hazard!
So what are we getting at here?
A Generalist is Just NOT Worth the Risk
If your contractor is a generalist… Our advice is that it’s simply not worth the risk.
Let’s share an example.
Say you need to get some dental work done.
Do you want your dentist to complete the task, or your primary care physician?
Both are well educated… The difference being that one is a specialist, and the other a generalist.
Obviously, we would all choose the dentist for our dental work.
The same concept applies to your grill island project. You don’t necessarily want to hire a pool or landscaping contractor.
You’re probably thinking… “Well, I’ll just hire a specialist over a generalist then. Should be easy enough!”
Sadly, it’s not that simple.
Unless you live in an location like Florida or California… Finding a specialist is like mining for gold.
They’re rare… A lot of work to find… And precious, indeed!
Even if you do manage to find a specialist… There are some additional concerns to consider.
Have your own Outdoor Kitchen Idea?
Disadvantages of a Specialist in Outdoor Kitchens
You may be scratching your head a bit here.
Understandably so! We’ve just told you that you should hire an specialist outdoor kitchen contractor for your project…
But also say that’s not always a good idea.
Well… There’s just a bit more to consider before hiring a specialist outdoor kitchen contractor to build.
Mostly, this comes down to the concept of “you get what you pay for”.
Your Timeline vs. Their Timeline
If your local contractor is an outdoor kitchen specialist… They’re going to be busy!
That high demand means a couple things.
For one… You’ll need to wait for an opening in their schedule. This can force you to wait much longer than you want.
And of course… You will have to pay premium costs for these sought after services.
Construction Materials & Methods May Not Be Right for You
And even though you’re working with a specialist… The preferred method of construction and the outdoor kitchen materials used may not be best for your needs.
Most contractors will utilize the frame method for building. This can be fine if you are in a dry, arid location.
But if there’s a lot of moisture or freezing?
A frame style outdoor kitchen can easily become damaged… And turn into a nightmare to deal with.
Point is… Even an outdoor kitchen specialist may not be able to meet the vision of your backyard space.
You’ll need to get crystal clear on your expectations before choosing your solution.
Speaking of expectations…
Your Expectations vs. Reality
In the age of the internet… This is a concept we’ve all encountered at one point or another.
The internet is rife with ideas that seem good… But in practice?
Reality sets in and we find that it wasn’t such a good idea.
This can also occur when hiring someone for your custom outdoor kitchen.
It’s likely you’ve been given some rosy expectations for your timeline.
Perhaps they promised your custom outdoor kitchen will be ready for peak barbecue season.
We’d like to pose a question…
When was the last time you had a contractor-run project that was done on time?
While it may seem harsh… You’ll quickly realize how many of your home improvement projects have been delayed.
To be frank, it’s the reality of the situation!
Do you really want your outdoor kitchen to be the same way?
We would think not.
The longer the timeline of your project… The longer your backyard is going to be disturbed.
So not only will your outdoor kitchen be in limbo… You won’t even be able to enjoy your patio during the warmer weather!
That certainly doesn’t sound like a great way to spend the nice summer weather.
The point is… Many contractors overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to timeline.
In our current environment, most contractors are working on a 3-6 month lead time for new projects.
So if you hear that your outdoor kitchen can be completed in a couple weeks… Proceed with caution.
Reliability of Contractors
We’d like to believe that our friendly local contractor is always reliable.
Sometimes they are!
But most of the time?
Not so much.
In fact… There’s a bit of a reputation when it comes to reliability.
It’s akin to a wild goose chase.
More than likely, you know the feeling.
Sometimes you can’t even get a conversation started. As we’ve mentioned, those with experience building outdoor kitchens are busy!
If they have a complete job load… The chances you receive a call back are slim.
And if you do get a call back?
Your contractor may be fairly communicative at the beginning of the project… But this often doesn’t translate once ground is broken at your house.
At this point… You’re one of the many projects they are juggling between.
This is where you run into the scenario of phone call after phone call… But no response on their part.
Believe it or not, it can get worse.
Think about the long run of what happens if there’s a problem with your outdoor kitchen.
Once again, the phone goes unanswered. Already being so busy… Why would they want to go back to fix an already completed job?
Of course, this doesn’t always happen.
At the same time… We’ve heard enough horror stories to validate this is a very real possibility.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to tell how reliable your contractor is. In this scenario, checking reviews and finding testimonials will be essential.
Sneaky, Hidden Costs of Contractor to Build Outdoor Kitchen
Who likes to pay more for a project than they were expecting?
Exactly no one.
An unexpected additional cost is one of the most frustrating aspects of a home improvement project.
Sadly, this problem is just as prevalent when building an outdoor kitchen.
When working with a contractor… You’ll likely become familiar with the term “change order”.
In the context of a grill island project, this can come up in one of two ways:
Essential features were not included on the initial quote
Unforeseen changes require an additional cost
Let’s review both in further detail.
The first tends to be more questionable.
Essential Features Not Included?
Sometimes, your contractor won’t include all the essential pricing on your initial quote. Perhaps the granite countertops weren’t included. Or maybe the outdoor appliances weren’t included.
Regardless of what’s missing on the sheet… You’re going to be required to pay more than you expect.
This is incredibly aggravating! Your outdoor kitchen simply isn’t complete without countertops, appliances, etc. These are not elements you can avoid.
While still frustrating… The second scenario is often more benign.
Unforeseen Changes = Additional Cost?
Sometimes, there truly are unforeseen challenges in the project that justify an additional cost. Perhaps there’s a requirement for more materials… Or a section has to be constructed differently.
This type of change order is a common occurrence.
Again… Your contractor won’t always do this.
Yet, it’s extremely common. So at the very least… Make sure everything is included in your initial proposal.
That means all essential features. Especially the warranty!
build a kitchen with a lifetime warranty
The Warranty Debacle
For many large purchases… The warranty plays a significant role in your final decision.
It only makes sense!
You want to know your investment will be protected if something goes wrong.
But when it comes to contractors?
For some reason… The entire concept gets thrown to the wayside.
Beats us. It’s especially important to secure a warranty here!
Unfortunately, many do not include a warranty for their services.
This is a huge gamble.
Any number of things can go wrong with your outdoor kitchen space. And if trouble strikes… It’s on you to pay for the repairs.
That just doesn’t seem right.
If you’re considering hiring a contractor… Make sure to ask about their warranty!
And while you’re at it?
Get a sense of what customer service is like…
We’ve already touched upon the issue of reliability.
We haven’t detailed what that means for your experience as a customer.
Customer service can often be overlooked… Until you need it!
When you need help, it should be easy to receive assistance.
Unfortunately… The general unreliability of contractors does not bode well for customer service.
You want open communication, a fast installation, and support for any issues that arise.
When you have to work tirelessly to get ahold of your contractor… None of the above qualities are achieved.
It shouldn’t be a full time job to simply reach someone.
Even if you do manage to get the problem fixed… You’re left frustrated by the whole ordeal.
It shouldn’t (and doesn’t!) have to be this way.
You should work with a company that highlights customer success… Not just customer service.
A good Customer Success team will accomplish a few things. They’ll ensure your project goes off without a hitch… And prevent problems before they occur.
What if there is a problem?
It’s handled in a way that exceeds your expectations. Swiftly and generously.
Point is… Customer service and success is not necessarily a strong suit for your contractor. Get clear on the level of service you can expect before moving forward with your backyard space.
You're on Your Own with Your Entertaining Space
In many ways… You’re on your own when you hire a contractor to build outdoor kitchen.
What do we mean by this?
Primarily, this has to do with appliances.
Outdoor kitchen contractors typically don’t have wholesale accounts with appliance manufacturers.
What does this mean for you?
Most contractors don’t sell appliances themselves.
That means it’s up to you to source everything.
For some homeowners… This isn’t a huge deal.
However, it can also end up being a huge inconvenience for you. Especially if you’re not familiar with grills and outdoor appliances.
You’re going to have to do your own research… Figure out what brand is best… Order it… And also make sure it’s going to fit in your outdoor kitchen.
Are you starting to see how much extra work that actually is?
It may not be a deal breaker for you… But it just seems like a lot more headache than it’s worth.
If you can, look for a contractor that is able to offer you grills and appliances.
It’s assumed that your outdoor kitchen will be built safely… But should it be assumed?
This goes back to hiring a specialist vs a generalist.
If you hire a generalist… You already know you’ll be rolling the dice on quality.
But you’ll also be rolling the dice on safety.
It’s not guaranteed your contractor understands how to build an outdoor kitchen safely.
At the very least… They have to be aware of combustible materials and proper ventilation. There’s a whole host of other criteria they’ll have to meet as well.
You’ll just need to get clear on their skill level.
There’s nothing more important than the safety of you and your family!
Questions Homeowners Ask Us
Now that we’ve reviewed the main concerns when working with a contractor…
We wanted to share some questions that homeowners frequently ask us on the topic.
Before we share these questions… It’s important to say that hiring a contractor may truly be the right choice for you.
There are great contractors out there who are more than qualified to build outdoor kitchens. Unfortunately, they are rare!
We’ve seen the aforementioned issues so often… We felt compelled to share. In sharing our concerns… Our hope is to guide you to the right decision for your needs.
A successful project, of course!
Without further ado… Let’s get to those questions.
Isn't a Contractor More Convenient?
On its face… It may appear that hiring a contractor is more convenient.
The expectation is that it will be a hands-off process for you. The contractor will handle everything with little need for input.
As evidenced above… Contractors actually tend to add complexity to your project. And more complexity = less convenience.
For one, you’ll generally be sourcing your own appliances. This significantly increases your time investment through research.
You’re also beholden to your contractor’s timeline. The timing that’s convenient for you is not considered. You’re reliant on what is convenient for them.
Overall… Hiring a contractor is less convenient than other options. This is mainly due to the lack of control you have over your project.
Again, not all are like this! But they’re the exception, not the rule.
My Guy is Local, isn't that Better?
When considering who to work with for your outdoor kitchen… Many think that sourcing local is always better.
Sometimes it is!
Unfortunately… You’re more likely to have a negative experience overall.
Well, all of the reasons mentioned above!
We won’t rehash it all here… But there are some other drawbacks you may encounter.
For one, your local contractor may be taking an archaic approach to outdoor kitchen design.
What do we mean by this?
Remember that most contractors are considered generalists. This also applies to the concept of outdoor kitchen design.
Your local contractor probably doesn’t have access to high-tech design techniques. And in our modern age… Creating a design with pencil and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore!
While there’s nothing wrong with taking a more traditional approach… It means you’ll have a harder time visualizing what your outdoor living area will look like.
Additionally, you may not end up with the best possible design for your space. Just because your contractor can build an outdoor kitchen… It doesn’t mean they know how to optimize designs!
Always keep in mind the skill level of your contractor. It’s not a guarantee that they follow flawless building practices.
Even knowing all this, you may be dead set on hiring local.
You will just have to be extremely careful with who you decide to hire.
On the other hand, you may not want to hire a contractor.
The question becomes…
If Not a Contractor, Who?
If you don’t want to hire a contractor… You might be scratching your head a bit.
You’re not sure what the alternatives are.
It seems like your only options are (a) hire a contractor or (b) do it all yourself.
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case!
You don’t have to wait on a contractor… Or go at it alone.
There’s a happy medium for all.
And that option is RTA Outdoor Living.
Yes, it’s us!
If you don’t mind… Allow us to spend a moment sharing how RTA can help you.
How RTA Can Help You
RTA stands for ready to assemble. This means our outdoor kitchens arrive at your door… Well… Ready to assemble!
There’s much more than meets the eye here.
Right from the jump… You’ll receive expert guidance on every aspect of your project.
We have a suite of Design Experts on our team ready to create the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.
Aside from our highly trained Design Team…
You’ll have access to a whole host of top notch design resources. Between a free online design tool, 3D blueprint software, a dense library of photos… It’s just scratching the surface of what we can provide you.
We should also mention that this entire process is completed from the comfort of your own house.
That’s right! You don’t even have to lift a finger. Until your outdoor kitchen panels arrive, of course.
Once your panels arrive, all that’s left is a painless assembly process. With a friend or two and a power drill… You’ll be up and running in a couple hours.
Sounds pretty fantastic, right?
RTA is by far the most convenient way to install an outdoor kitchen.
So… Are you ready to tackle your outdoor kitchen project?
Let’s get started!
Reach out to us to schedule a call with one of our Design Experts. It’s the first step toward outdoor kitchen bliss.
Even if you don’t end up working with us… We are simply overjoyed you are planning a grill island project.
There’s nothing we love more than to help homeowners like you host the moments that matter.