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Contractor to Build Outdoor Kitchen: Your #1 Best Option

By James King

October 5, 2023

You’re chomping at the bit to transform your outdoor living space with a brand new BBQ island.

But hold up… Even with the grandest ideas swirling through your mind, it probably won’t be long before you hit a wall.

Especially if your heart’s set on crafting a custom design… You can’t just jump into an outdoor kitchen project feet first.

And if you’re feeling stuck, it may be time to enlist the help of an outdoor kitchen contractor.

But before you commit to the idea of a contractor to build outdoor kitchen… You probably have a lengthy list of questions. (Rightfully so!)

What exactly does an outdoor kitchen contractor do?

How on earth do I find the best outdoor kitchen contractors near me?

And most importantly, does a contractor really have what it takes to bring your custom outdoor kitchen dreams to life?

In today’s quest for the truth… We’re unpacking all of these questions, and then some.

By the time we’re done, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not an outdoor kitchen contractor is your best choice.

Ready? Let’s begin.

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Outdoor Kitchen Contractors: What’s Their Role?

two contractors finishing an outdoor kitchen with natural stone veneer

Before we dive into the heart of this article, let’s take a quick moment to ensure that we’re all on the same page.

What does an outdoor kitchen contractor actually do?

The answer is simple.

Outdoor kitchen contractors oversee and bring to life custom grill island builds… Catering to homeowners whose grand ideas can’t be fulfilled by off-the-shelf, pre-designed outdoor kitchen kits.

When you hire a contractor to pull off your outdoor kitchen project, you’re typically starting from ground zero. In other words, your backyard is a bare canvas… And you need help turning it into a true entertainment oasis.

A skilled outdoor kitchen contractor will have the right resources to evaluate your outdoor space, draw up a custom design, source materials and essential components, and construct a fully functional outdoor kitchen area that’s truly tailored to you.

But this all raises an important question:

How do you find the best contractor for the job?

Want to bring your idea to life?

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How To Find The Top Outdoor Kitchen Builders In Your Area

If you’re craving a custom outdoor kitchen design… You’re probably wondering: How do I find the best outdoor kitchen builders near me? 

Plugging “outdoor kitchen builder near me” into your search engine will undoubtedly reveal a plethora of results… Some of which may not be the most relevant.

So, how do you narrow things down?

Well, there are some fantastic resources at your disposal to do precisely that.

Websites like Angi’s List and Houzz for example, will help you fine tune results, and clearly identify your local contractor to build outdoor kitchen options. (Google Local Map Pack will also be useful!) 

But, even with these resources on your side… Know that finding contractors will be easier in some areas than in others.

In the sunny, temperate locales of Florida, California, or Texas, for instance… Outdoor kitchens are ever-popular.

And as a result of this higher demand… Contractors will be more prevalent.

However, in northern regions like New England or New York… Outdoor kitchen contractors may be harder to churn up.

This is especially true of specialized outdoor kitchen builders.

But wait… What do we mean by “specialized?”

General Contractors Vs. Specialized Outdoor Kitchen Builders: What’s The Difference? 

After identifying contractors in your area, what’s next?

Before signing any contracts… Hold your horses.

It’s crucial that you hire a contractor with significant experience building outdoor kitchens.

While this sounds like common sense… You’d be surprised by how little experience most contractors have with grill island construction.

This brings us to the concept of “Generalist vs. Specialist.”

General contractors are easier to track down… But are rarely your best bet.

They’ll be reasonably skilled in a variety of home improvement projects… But a specialized knowledge of outdoor kitchen construction isn’t a guarantee.

It’s like having your primary care physician do dental work. (Not the wisest choice!)

Now, specialized outdoor kitchen builders are tougher to find.

But, they will have a more intricate, well-rounded knowledge of outdoor kitchen construction.

So, how do you weed out the general contractors… And uncover the true specialists?

Let’s talk through some unmistakable signs of a generalist.

General Contractor To Build Outdoor Kitchen Giveaways

To get a clearer sense of whether a contractor is a generalist or a specialist… Keep an eye out for these common warning signs.

Do They Have Relevant, Fine Tuned Experience?

modern backyard design featured image

There’s no better way to effectively sift out general contractors than by checking their available services.

General contractors often promote a wide array of home improvement projects, in addition to outdoor kitchen design.

These offerings may include anything from hardscape workmanship, landscape design, patios, fire pits, roofs, and even swimming pools.

Naturally, someone offering such a broad spectrum of outdoor living services probably doesn’t have a specific, in-depth knowledge of BBQ island construction.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that even if you are able to identify a contractor who specializes in outdoor kitchen craftsmanship… It’ll also be crucial to verify that they have years of experience under their belt.

A newcomer may not have honed their skills quite yet… And may not be able to sufficiently elevate your entertaining space to the next level.

No Mention Of Safety

With sizzling hot built-in outdoor grills and appliances in the mix… Outdoor kitchens can certainly pose safety hazards, particularly when crafted by someone who’s not extremely well-versed on the topic.

At minimum… A specialized outdoor kitchen builder should have an understanding of combustible materials and appropriate ventilation.

So if a contractor doesn’t clearly lay out the safety steps they plan on taking… It’s a good indication that you may be working with an inexperienced generalist.

In our eyes, this isn’t a matter you should have to inquire about.

And if you do, it suggests that your contractor isn’t prepared to prioritize your safety.

Can You Identify A Portfolio Of Past Projects?

If you can’t clearly identify a gallery of past outdoor kitchen projects… It implies one of two things:

  1. The contractor doesn’t want their past work on display.
  2. The contractor doesn’t have past work to display.

It goes without saying… But this is a huge problem.

Not only will this make it incredibly difficult to determine build style, materials used, and style preferences…

It also typically points to a lack of specialized experience.

No Relevant Customer Reviews

Finally, comb through a contractor’s customer reviews.

If you can’t find any (or if ratings are low)… We’d suggest taking a different route.

But even if a contractor has tons of positive ratings… They need to speak directly to outdoor kitchens.

Proficiency building patios or pergolas doesn’t pertain to their outdoor kitchen skills!

And if you can’t identify any outdoor kitchen-specific reviews, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a generalist.

Keeping all of these considerations in mind… Weeding out general contractors should be a fairly easy task.

But that said, you’re not necessarily in the clear. 

Do Specialized Outdoor Kitchen Contractors Really Cut It?

At this point, you should feel better prepared to spot an outdoor kitchen specialist.

But while entrusting a specialist is certainly preferable to relying on a general outdoor kitchen contractor…

We regret to inform you that even working with a specialist won’t be without challenges.

You may be scratching your head a bit here. Understandably so!

We just told you that you should hire a specialized outdoor kitchen contractor for your project…

But now we’re saying that it may not be the best idea.

What gives?

Allow us to show you some potential challenges that lie ahead if you choose to hire an outdoor kitchen contractor.

1. Timelines Are Long And Drawn Out

contractor calendar filling up

Simply identifying a specialized outdoor kitchen contractor can feel like a full-time job…

But even after you’ve found one, your timeline may only continue to stretch thin.

Outdoor kitchen specialists are in high demand… Which means their schedules are pretty much always jam-packed.

This means a few things for your own timeline.

Firstly, you’ll need to wait around for an opening in their schedule.

And even after you get an “in,” it doesn’t equate to smooth sailing ahead.

Following an initial consultation… The contractor will then spend time drafting a design proposal.

And once that’s finally approved… Materials and appliances need to be ordered.

Only then can construction take place.

And depending on the scope of your project… It may take several weeks for your BBQ island to come to life, or it could turn into a months-long affair. (As we mentioned, specialists are usually swamped, and your project likely isn’t high on their list of priorities.)

The point is… Many contractors overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to timelines.

And in our current environment, most contractors are working on a 3-6 month lead time for new projects.

So if you want your new outdoor kitchen ready in time for grilling season… Working with a contractor may leave you sorely disappointed.

2. Questionable Customer Service

All contractors, even those specialized in outdoor kitchen construction, have a bit of a reputation when it comes to reliability.

Sometimes, contractors are so in over their heads that even getting a conversation started is near-impossible.

Especially if they have a hefty workload… The odds you receive a call back are slim.

And on the off-chance that you do get a call back?

Your contractor may have great communication early on… But this often doesn’t continue once construction begins

By this point… You’re just one of the many projects they’re juggling.

And if you have any questions… Good luck getting quick answers.

3. Limited Design Resources

Just because a contractor has experience building outdoor kitchens… Doesn’t mean they’re a pro at optimizing designs.

Even the best local outdoor kitchen contractors probably won’t have access to high-tech design technologies.

And in our modern age… Creating a custom design with a pencil and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with taking a more traditional approach… It means that you’ll have a harder time visualizing what your outdoor living area will look like.

And in turn, you may not end up with the best possible design for your space.

4. No Access To Appliances

Though there are exceptions to this rule… Outdoor kitchen contractors typically don’t have wholesale accounts with appliance manufacturers.

This means that most outdoor kitchen contractors don’t sell appliances themselves… And sourcing the essential components may wind up on your plate.

For some homeowners… This isn’t a huge deal.

But for others… It can turn out to be a huge inconvenience.

You’ll have to do your own research… Figure out the best brands… Order the appliances… And confirm that they’ll fit in your outdoor kitchen.

As you can see, it can quickly turn into a lot of extra work on your part. (Not to mention, further extend your already drawn-out timeline!)

Take the contractor out of the equation

Use our free 3D design tool to create the perfect outdoor kitchen with the appliances that suit your needs. Start today!

5. Limited Construction Materials & Questionable Build Method

a diy outdoor kitchen project that needs electrical utilities ran

Even when working with a specialist… Their preferred method of construction and go-to outdoor kitchen materials may not be well suited to your needs.

On one hand, limited material selection can limit your creative possibilities…

And in addition… Even those with years of experience building outdoor kitchens may still rely on questionable build methods and not-so-quality materials!

Metal frames are a major culprit in this regard.

While these can be fine if you live in a dry, arid location…

In regions with humidity, moisture, or temperature fluctuations… A frame-style outdoor kitchen can quickly turn into a nightmare to deal with.

Point is… Even an outdoor kitchen specialist may not be able to meet the vision you dreamt of for your backyard space.

And in that case… Why pay a premium for a specialist to build your custom outdoor kitchen?

Speaking of costs…

6. Unpredictable Costs

When working with a contractor… You’ll likely become familiar with the term “change order.”

When it comes to grill island construction… This comes up in one of two ways:

  1. Essential features weren’t included on the initial quote.
  2. Unforeseen changes require additional payment.

Let’s review both.

Essential Features Not Included

Sometimes, your contractor won’t include all the essential pricing on your initial quote.

Perhaps the countertops weren’t included… Or maybe the appliances were left out.

Regardless of what’s missing… You’re going to have to dish out more dough than you originally expected.

This is incredibly aggravating!

Your outdoor kitchen simply isn’t complete without all the essential components… Which means these additional costs aren’t ones that you can weasel your way out of paying.

Unforeseen Changes Require Additional Payment

Every once in a while, there truly are unforeseen challenges in the project that justify an additional cost.

Perhaps more materials are required… Or a section of your summer kitchen has to be constructed differently.

This type of change order is common… So to avoid paying even more than necessary, it’s crucial to confirm that every essential feature is included in your initial proposal.

7. The Warranty Debacle

Finally… You want to know that your investment will be protected if something goes wrong.

But unfortunately, many contractors don’t 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.

So if you’re considering hiring a contractor… Don’t forget to ask about their warranty!

Who Needs A Contractor? Here’s A Convenient Nationwide Outdoor Kitchen Solution

At this point, you may be on the fence about hiring a contractor to build your outdoor kitchen.

But, what are your alternatives?

It seems like your only options are:

A). Hire a contractor.

B). Do it all yourself.

Thankfully, this is no longer the case.

There’s a happy medium for it all… And that option is RTA Outdoor Living.

Yes, it’s us!

Allow us to share how RTA can help you.

It’s More Convenient (& Much Quicker) Than Working With A Contractor

When working with a contractor… Your timeline may quickly spiral out of control.

But when working with RTA… This won’t be a challenge at all.

For starters, RTA offers custom outdoor kitchens nationwide… Which means you don’t need to spend extra time and energy searching for reputable local contractors.

We’re specialized in all things outdoor kitchen… And have plenty of customer reviews, extensive safety resources, and a sizable photo gallery to back up this claim.

But, that’s not the only way we’ll streamline the process.

Here’s what else you can expect:

RTA Timeline

traditional vs rta process mobile graphic
traditional vs rta process graphic

The process begins with our free, easy-to-use online design software.

At your discretion (and from the comfort of your own home)… This tool can be used to obtain a 3D rendering of your ideal custom kitchen layout, in just minutes.

On top of customizing your own layout, dimensions, and aesthetics… This tool also makes choosing appliances quick and easy.

With a few clicks, you can factor in your choice of appliances, accessories, and outdoor kitchen cabinets from Coyote Outdoor Living’s premium selection (we also offer high quality pizza ovens from Alfa!).

Then, once you’ve submitted your design… It won’t be long before you’re connected with a Design Expert to help approve and finalize your plans.

From there, you’ll be handed off to a personal project manager… Who’ll keep you updated and answer all your questions, even after your kitchen is crafted and sent to your doorstep.

Then, it’s time for assembly… Which is already 95% completed by the time your kitchen arrives.

In fact, whether you DIY or work with one of our Pro Installers, it’ll only take one afternoon to come to full functionality!

And that’s it! Easy peasy.

Rather than whiling away the entire BBQ season waiting around for a contractor… You can have your custom outdoor kitchen designed, built, and ready to host the moments that matter in just 6-8 weeks. (NOTE: This timeframe can fluctuate, so be sure to ask what our current lead times are!) 

Now, you may have noticed that we keep bringing up the term, “custom…”

Let’s flesh out this point a bit further.

You Can Customize To Your Heart’s Content... Without Sacrificing Durability

So, we’ve already established that you want a high-quality, perfect outdoor kitchen that’s flawlessly tailored to your tastes…

And sometimes, a local outdoor kitchen contractor simply doesn’t have what it takes to tick off all your boxes.

Their go-to build method may leave you questioning the longevity of your investment..

And a potentially limited material selection may not quite match your desired aesthetics.

So, how does RTA step up to the plate in this regard?

Well, our outdoor kitchens are constructed with composite concrete panels.

These are a super durable (and safe!) solution for your outdoor entertainment space… A claim which we back up with a limited lifetime warranty.

But, there’s more to it.

Our composite concrete panels also allow for easy customization!

They can be molded and finished to suit a variety of different styles… And paired with durable concrete or granite countertops to meet various aesthetic needs, from rustic to modern.

As we mentioned earlier… Layout and dimensions are also easily adaptable, for fitting outdoor entertainment spaces from large to small.

Now, how does all of this add up cost-wise?

We Won’t Change Up The Total Cost

When you work with a contractor to build your outdoor kitchen… Your invoice may unexpectedly change multiple times over the course of the project.

But here at RTA… We know how frustrating it is when change orders and unforeseen challenges elevate your total price tag.

So, from the start… We’ll make sure that our outdoor kitchen pricing remains clear and consistent.

You’ll never have to pay more than expected down the road…

Not to mention, you won’t have to spend extra for weeks and months of construction labor.

But wait… It gets even better.

Thanks to our high quality build method and top-notch appliances from Coyote (which boast a lifetime warranty!)… You won’t even have to worry about spending money to replace or repair components down the line.

All in all, we believe an outdoor kitchen should be a one time investment… And something that doesn’t continue to drain your wallet.

Alright… That’s enough on how RTA can help you, for now.

What’s the next step?

Your New Outdoor Kitchen Is Calling

mike pyle with his family at their custom outdoor kitchen with a modern concrete finish

At this point, you’ve seen the challenges that may lie ahead when you work with a contractor…

And you’ve also seen how RTA can help curb those challenges.

It goes without saying… But you have a lot to mull over!

If you want to find out even more about how RTA can help you… Check out our Learning Hub, test our online design tool, or simply reach out.

Our team is more than happy to help you get started, whenever you’re ready… So you can spend more time hosting the moments that matter.

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.

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