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By Jayme Muller

September 16, 2021

trying to find the hidden cost in their outdoor kitchen (1)

If you’re currently doing research on an outdoor kitchen project, there’s a lot you’re pondering.

Determining budget, figuring out the right layout, choosing outdoor appliances, and more. If you are working on budget now, we suggest you read our outdoor kitchen cost guide. It will help you understand average costs of your project and other factors to consider.

When putting together an outdoor kitchen there are obvious considerations that come to mind. Selections of appliances, countertops, island finishes, patio layout, etc. However, we wanted to create a comprehensive picture on what owning an outdoor kitchen actually looks like. This way, you will be best prepared to tackle your project!

Over the years, we have helped countless families with their outdoor kitchen projects. So we have extensive knowledge of the hidden costs you may encounter in owning an outdoor kitchen.

trying to find the hidden cost in their outdoor kitchen (1)

From the outside, it appears outdoor kitchens are fairly low-maintenance. The reality is, there will always be some level of maintenance and upkeep involved. The frequency of upkeep required comes down to appliance selection, material selection, patio layout, etc. Not all outdoor kitchens are made the same so maintenance requirements can vary widely.

It’s for the above reason we wanted to compile the top 9 hidden costs of your outdoor kitchen. Knowing these hidden expenses will ensure your outdoor kitchen project is a success… Not a stress.

Let’s get started!

Hidden Cost #1: Patio Construction

contractor laying paver patio surface for outdoor kitchen

You may be scratching your head a bit at this one! No, it’s not a maintenance and upkeep cost. However, this is often needed before building an outdoor kitchen. After all… In order to own an outdoor kitchen, you need somewhere to put it!

There are a few scenarios that come into play here. Some of you may have an existing patio in your outdoor space. Will the outdoor kitchen you want fit on your current patio? It may not. In that case, you may have to extend your backyard patio if you don’t want to make design adjustments. Naturally, this is an outdoor kitchen cost you likely weren’t expecting.

That’s why we stress the importance of working with a design expert. They will not only assist you with design… But help you understand your patio space and how to accommodate the design you desire.

Or, you may not have a patio in your outdoor space yet. So you have the additional cost of building and planning this in preparation for your kitchen. Even with an existing patio, there is prep work to consider.

The patio construction itself isn’t so much a hidden cost… It’s more so the support and base of the patio that gets overlooked. You may need additional supports to place the outdoor kitchen island on.

Whether building new or modifying an existing patio… You must know the weight of your outdoor kitchen. Speak with your deck/patio contractor to ensure the deck or patio is properly supported. This will ensure your backyard patio doesn’t become compromised over time.

Traditional masonry outdoor kitchen construction is typically too heavy for your patio or deck. If you decide on this method… You’ll likely have to invest in additional beams, rafters, or structural footings to carry that additional load.

Is there a way to avoid this hidden cost?

With RTA outdoor kitchen islands being a lightweight prefab option, this can be a great choice for you. You can build on existing patios or decks without the need for additional supports. Pretty great, right?

Next, let’s talk utility lines.

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Hidden Cost #2: Utility Lines

To most, utility lines are an obvious expense. If you want a sink, refrigerator, and/or natural gas built-in grill… You know you’ll have to install water, gas, and electrical lines. It just makes sense!

As mentioned earlier, we’re not here to discuss the obvious in costs. We’re dipping into the hidden costs and maintenance involved with having utility lines.

hidden utility line costs for outdoor kitchen

Here's a helpful hint for you:

The closer to the house you can build your outdoor kitchen, the less expensive it will be to run utility lines.

As far as ongoing maintenance goes, water lines are the biggest culprits. This is especially true if you live in an area with a freeze thaw climate. You’ll have to winterize your water lines to prevent damage. Whether you complete the task or you hire someone… It has to be done every year.

Let’s shift to hiring someone to run utility lines. There are ways you can avoid unnecessary installation costs. The best time to run your utility lines is before the patio goes down. Make sure to plant the utility lines and have them trenched, with conduit run below the patio.

If your contractor has to work around an existing patio or other obstacles… This will drive up the difficulty of the project. Increased difficulty = increased cost of labor.

Also look to your proposed outdoor kitchen solution. Some outdoor kitchens have designs that plan well for utility lines. Designs with utility lines run inside the outdoor kitchen are your best chance to save money. If you have an outdoor kitchen with a ton of studs and frames impeding the electrician or plumber from running lines… It will only make the job more difficult. And as discussed above, increased difficulty = increased cost.

This is another benefit of RTA. Our systems are frameless and completely hollow inside. Therefore, there’s nothing getting in the way of an electrician or plumber running their lines. They’ll be happy, and your wallet will be too!

rta outdoor kitchen without countertop (1)

Further, our customer success team will work with you to coordinate the utility line plan. That way, you can complete the task in the most efficient and economical way.

Now onto landscaping.

Hidden Cost #3: Landscaping / Re-Landscaping

This category is often overlooked. Think about it. You’re sprucing up the look of your outdoor living space by adding an outdoor kitchen. Naturally, you’ll want to spruce up the landscape of the area around it as well. Some already have their backyard in tip-top shape, but not all of us!

So what’s the cost?

Landscaping around the patio can easily be a couple thousand dollars. That’s a lot of dough to add to your outdoor kitchen project. Of course, landscaping isn’t a requirement for outdoor kitchen ownership. However, many customers like to complete both projects together.

There is a flip side even if your outdoor living space is already pristine. This is great! But depending on the outdoor kitchen solution you decide on… You might have to spend time and money redoing your backyard.

Why?

It all depends on the construction method of your kitchen. Take block construction or one piece modular systems for example. These systems require heavy machinery or equipment during the installation process. Sounds benign, but this machinery will tear up your beautiful backyard! Of course, there are ways to prevent the damage as much as possible… and at the very least you may be stuck regrading and reseeding your lawn.

This is a great reason to go with a solution that has a non-invasive construction process. RTA is an excellent example of this! There is zero property disruption involved in our kitchen kit assembly. You simply take the pieces out of the crate and carry them into place. Once completed, you can’t even tell there was any construction performed.

Another hidden cost we’d like to draw your attention to is change orders.

Hidden Cost #4: Change Orders

Change orders can be a hidden cost involved in the project itself. Change orders are most common when working with a contractor. There are many things they may have not factored into the initial quote with you.

Here's a piece of advice:

When finding the right company to complete your outdoor kitchen project... Ask them if the quote they provide is the final price.

This means no change orders or surprise expenses that come after the fact. The price is final with no additional outdoor kitchen costs.

contractor calling customer to make a change order for outdoor kitchen

It’s a problem that comes up more often than you may think. We have worked with many customers who come to us after working with another company. They had agreed on an outdoor kitchen package with another company… Only to find that countertops weren’t included and had to source them elsewhere.

You can certainly imagine how frustrating this is! You receive a quote with the understanding that includes everything you need… But that ends up not being the case. Pretty challenging to have an outdoor kitchen with no countertops!

Sneaky costs such as this is why we believe in offering you the complete package. Our outdoor kitchens include appliances, countertops, and the panels that make up the structure. No matter who you work with, it is key to understand what is included. That way you don’t get blindsided by unnecessary costs or change orders.

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Hidden Cost #5: Appliance / Island Covers

While not necessary to your project, we highly recommend them. If you’re sourcing complete 304 stainless steel appliances, that’s great! However, just because the material is high-quality… That doesn’t make it indestructible.

It’s an excellent idea to invest in appliance covers for ongoing protection of your appliances. Usually, you’ll find these through the appliance brand you order from. They’ll be made specifically for the model of appliance you have. Most grill covers cost anywhere from $50 – $100. Like anything else in life, the more you protect your appliances… The longer they will last.

Of course, you want your outdoor kitchen to be made from durable materials. It should be able to withstand the elements without having to cover it all the time. Yes, I know what you may be thinking… ‘It’s an outdoor kitchen, why do I need to cover it?’

It’s a fair question. Even though your outdoor kitchen is built for the outdoor environment, it’s never a bad idea to consider extra protection. If you’re spending several thousand dollars on your project… Buying a $300 – $700 island cover is fairly cheap insurance to protect your investment.

Look at your island cover the same way you would at a pool cover. It’s used during the off-season for protection. You’ll use appliance covers more frequently as they are easy to take on and off. On the other hand, island covers are meant to be used if your outdoor kitchen will be out of commission for a few months.

Hidden Cost #6: Grill Hoods

Hoods are specific to certain setups, however, it is worth mentioning here. Generally speaking, most people know very little about island hood setups and how they work. If you’re installing your outdoor kitchen under a covered structure… You will want to invest in a grill hood setup.

Grill hoods collect the smoke from your grill, suck it up through a flue, and blow it out through the top.

Why is this important?

If you don’t have a hood setup… The smoke will stick into your back wall and ceiling structure. Over time, this will turn into a soot covered mess! A downgrade in aesthetic is not the only downside. With nothing to handle the smoke, you and your guests will likely be smoked out of the area when grilling. That’s a bummer for everyone involved.

For setup, hoods are designed to sit about 36″ above the grill. The blower sucks up the smoke, travels up the flue, and exhausted out of the structure. The whole package can cost you anywhere from $2,000 – $4,000. Not to mention an additional labor cost for an experienced contractor. They’ll have to install the setup plus make cutouts into the roof structure if needed.

As mentioned previously, a grill hood setup is only required for certain instances. But if your project meets that criteria, you’ll want to factor that into your project.

outdoor kitchen grill with hood (1)

Hidden Cost #7: Appliance Parts & Replacements

If you’re purchasing from a reputable manufacturer, you’ll probably be offered an extended lifetime warranty on the appliances. Regardless, make sure to read the warranty closely. This lifetime warranty covers the burners and housing of all the appliances.

This means that the other parts and components are not covered under the lifetime warranty. The warranty for those components generally last 1-5 years. Of course, once the warranty is up you’ll be responsible for covering the cost of any maintenance or replacement need. You’ll also be responsible for any labor costs incurred when installing replacement parts.

So, what kind of components or parts are we talking about here?

motor for outdoor grill
Rotisserie Motor
new valve for built in outdoor grill
Standard Valve Liquid Propane
heat control grid for built in outdoor kitchen grill
Heat Control Grid
grill light for coyote built in grill
Hood Light

Here are a few examples:

  • Refrigerator Compressors
  • Grill Lighting
  • Electrical Components
  • Valves
  • Cooking Grids

Some are small-ticket items that will only set you back about $15 or so. However, a refrigerator compressor will run you anywhere from $50 – $300. It can easily add up!

Therefore, it’s important to work with a manufacturer that always has parts readily available. So in the event something does go wrong… You can get the necessary parts for repair and know what to expect for cost.

Hidden Cost #8: Hosting

group of friends discussing the hidden costs of outdoor kitchens (1)

Let’s be honest…

Once you own a great outdoor kitchen setup, your house is going to be the place to where everyone wants to congregate. You’ll be hosting more than you ever did before, which was the whole point of the project in the first place!

So… Why do we bring this up?

Well, frequent hosting leads to additional expenses. You don’t cook air on your grill! You need meats, food, beverages, and other miscellaneous party needs. Needless to say, the cost adds up quickly! This is an expense you will incur every time you host.

Again, most of us know this is part and parcel of owning an outdoor kitchen. It’s no surprise, but worth mentioning!

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Hidden Cost #9: Maintenance or Repairs

There’s a good amount to cover here, so let’s start with maintenance.

Most outdoor kitchen setups should require little ongoing maintenance. And when considering all the benefits of outdoor kitchens… A little maintenance here and there is well worth it.

So what has to be maintained?

Countertops are the primary example. Every so often, countertops have to be re-sealed. So yes, you will have to take the time to complete the task and purchase the sealer.

However, material selection will determine how often you have to reseal your countertop. More porous materials such as ceramic tile (grout in between) or concrete will require an annual or biannual resealing. More dense materials such as granite or quartz require less upkeep in this area.

Now let’s talk repairs.

Know that high-quality outdoor kitchens really should not require any repairs. With that said, not all outdoor kitchen solutions are created equal. Some solutions simply are not designed to last many years. In this case, you’ll be stuck with the repair costs… Or worse, having to replace the island altogether.

As expected, these repairs can be quite costly from a financial standpoint. However, we often overlook how costly these repairs can be from a time perspective as well. You may have stones that come loose, cracking stucco, loose or broken tiles, etc. You can easily see how your dream outdoor kitchen can turn into a nightmare!

It’s for the above reason it is so crucial to do your due diligence on outdoor kitchen materials. Even if one company is more expensive… It makes sense to work with them if the materials and construction practices are better. A decision like this can be the difference between buying an outdoor kitchen twice vs. investing once and no more. It’s a big deal!

Outdoor kitchens with a lifetime warranty is always an excellent idea. If anything goes wrong, you don’t have to make repairs on your dime. That’s why we utilize construction methods that are stable and allow us to confidently offer a limited lifetime warranty. You should feel confident in your investment and not have to worry about hidden repair costs.

To learn more about our material and construction methods, click here.

Where to go from Here?

determing the cost of an outdoor kitchen (1)

Well, there you have it. The top 9 hidden costs of an outdoor kitchen project. We hope you gained some helpful information and have a better understanding of what outdoor kitchen ownership looks like.

Here at RTA, we strive to be the source for all your outdoor kitchen needs. If you’re looking into outdoor kitchens, you may want to consider us!

We manufacture customized prefab outdoor kitchen kits and distribute them all over the US. It’s our passion to help clients with their outdoor kitchen designs. We provide them with extensive planning and design resources.

If you’re looking for more assistance, we’d love to work with you! You can reach out to one of our design experts to start planning your project. We’re with you every step of the way.

We look forward to helping you out!

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