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Outdoor Kitchen on a Budget? Here’s 5 Ways to Save

By Jayme Muller

April 8, 2022

Perhaps you’re in the depths of outdoor kitchen research… And you realize your rosy vision of an outdoor kitchen is slightly out of budget. Maybe even a bit more than slightly.

We understand. Most of us come into a new and exciting project with high expectations. You want all the bells and whistles… But then reality sets in. More specifically, that bank account number.

So, what is the outdoor kitchen aspirer such as yourself to do?

You could use cheap outdoor kitchen materials to make your design fit your budget. (And pay for it later).

You could scrap the project entirely… Only to look into your backyard with bitterness.

Or, you could make some adjustments to save some cash.

To us, it’s a no-brainer!

There are a few unknown ways to save money on your outdoor kitchen project. And no, you don’t have to sacrifice! All you need is a bit of strategy and experience.

That’s where we come in.

Without any further ado… Let’s review 5 ideas for an outdoor kitchen on a budget.

  1. Keep Your Outdoor Kitchen Close To Your House
  2. Consider Utilities Carefully On A Budget
  3. Focus On Versatility With Your Kitchen
  4. Consider An Alternative Solution
  5. Knowledge Is Power

1. Keep Your Outdoor Kitchen Close to Your House

Perimeter placement of outdoor kitchen.
satellite outdoor kitchen next to pool
Satellite placement of outdoor kitchen.

Some terms you’ll see thrown around in the outdoor kitchen industry are “perimeter” or “satellite”. This refers to the location of your grill island in relation to the house.

A perimeter outdoor kitchen is going to be situated near the house. It can either be directly touching the back wall, or be placed nearby.

Satellite outdoor kitchens are the exact opposite. These will be built away from the house… Usually a pretty good distance away.

The location of your outdoor kitchen will have a direct impact on the price you pay. Satellite grill islands just cost more. Plain and simple.

Why?

Well… There are two primary reasons for this.

For one, utility lines are cheaper with a perimeter outdoor kitchen. It’s easier and requires less labor to install.

Think about it.

If your outdoor kitchen is 100 feet away from the house… That means you need to hire a professional to dig a trench the whole way there. Not to mention the added material cost. You’ll pay more for conduit, wire, pipe, etc.

Keep in mind that professionals often charge by the linear foot. So the further away your outdoor kitchen bar is… The more it will cost.

Placement of Your Outdoor Kitchen to Save on a Budget

To save some cash, consider placing your outdoor kitchen directly on the back wall of the house. Just punch the lines through the wall and you’re ready to go. In some cases… The utility lines are already punched out the back wall. In that case, you’re saving even more time and money!

Secondly… You may be able to drop some appliances when building a perimeter outdoor kitchen. It  may sound crazy at first, but just hear us out.

When your outdoor kitchen is far away from the house… You obviously don’t want to be lugging around everything you need. It makes sense to minimize trips to the house as much as possible. So fridges, pull out trashes, and sinks are all common additions.

With a perimeter outdoor kitchen… You can still have these appliances, but it becomes less necessary. Being nearby, it’s still easy enough to hop into the house and grab what you need. As a result… You can cut down on many of the outdoor appliances you would normally consider.

As we know, appliances are expensive! Being willing to cut down on a bit of convenience can be the difference between having a grill island or not.

Ultimately, when building an outdoor kitchen on a budget… Opting for a perimeter setup will save you some money.

Cutting down on #2 can also help make your affordable outdoor kitchen dream a reality…

DESIGN A KITCHEN CUSTOM TO YOUR SPACE

Use our free 3D design tool to create an outdoor kitchen to fit your space and budget.

2. Consider Utilities Carefully on a Budget

WATER

$500-$2000

ELECTRICAL

$300-$1000

GAS

$15-25

(per linear ft)

 

For most outdoor kitchen designs… Utility lines are required.

Why would you want to avoid installing them?

Well… Utility lines can add several hundred to a couple thousand dollars to your project. That certainly poses a challenge to building an outdoor kitchen on a budget.

It’s obvious there’s a cost to hiring a professional for installation. It doesn’t end there, though. There may be parts of your backyard that need to get ripped up in order to bring utility lines in.

Take, for example, a concrete patio. There may not be a simple route to installing utility lines in your backyard. It’s possible the patio has to be ripped up in order to bring utility lines in… Then, you’ll have to repair the patio afterward. That sounds like a nightmare!

Utility Lines and Your Appliances

As far as appliances go… You’ll have to get creative with your options. You’ll need water lines for a sink, electricity for a refrigerator/appliances, and gas lines for a grill. Needless to say, the utility lines stack up quick!

To avoid running gas lines… Consider running your gas grill off a propane tank. Yes, it will be a bit less convenient. But, you don’t have to pay someone to run gas lines! You could also consider a charcoal grill for a completely analog option.

Sinks are generally the most involved as far as appliances go. You’ll need both water and drain lines for your sink to function properly. And for those who live in cold climates… You’ll also have to winterize your sink every year.

Refrigeration is often a sticking point for homeowners. They’re highly convenient… But what if you don’t want to run electric lines?

You can still enjoy cool, refreshing beverages. Consider a drop in cooler or ice chest to keep cool drinks at the ready. It’s a great compromise to reduce the average cost of an outdoor kitchen.

Moral of the story? Seriously think about eliminating appliances that require utility lines. While it may seem like a huge compromise… If you build a perimeter outdoor kitchen, you may not need many of these appliances anyway!

The money you’ll save between appliance cost and utility lines can be quite a sizeable sum. The savings can make an outdoor kitchen on a budget seem easy!

Coyote outdoor grills come with interior halogen lights. However, they use a piezo ignitor which doesn’t require power.

3. Focus on Versatility with Your Kitchen

When it comes to versatility… What we’re really talking about here is appliances.

More often than not… The tendency is to want to stack your outdoor kitchen with as many appliances as possible. We get it! When planning an outdoor kitchen, you approach it with gusto.

As you are well aware… The trouble is our gusto often far exceeds our budget. Appliances can easily skyrocket outdoor kitchen cost.

Thankfully, you can still balance your budget and appliance desires. The key is to choose appliances that are versatile.

Example of Appliance Versatility
coyote power burner with wok accessory

Take a power burner, for example. If you’re not familiar with them… It’s a high-intensity burner you can use for side dishes. There’s a much larger temperature range than a traditional side burner. The power burner can take you from high heat to a low simmer.

Right out of the box, a power burner will allow you to have lobster boils and cook side dishes. You can take it a step further with the power burner from Coyote Outdoor Living. They offer accessories to provide you even more versatility.

You can buy a griddle insert to transform your power burner into a flattop griddle. This is perfect for cooking eggs, bacon, pancakes, and more. I bet you never thought you’d be able to cook breakfast al fresco!

Yet another accessory you could add is a wok. This will allow you to cook stir fry and other Asian inspired cuisine. As you can see… There’s a lot you can accomplish with one appliance!

Here’s where the savings come in. Before, you may have wanted both a side burner and a standalone griddle. This combo would cost you in the neighborhood of $2,500-$3,000.

A single power burner which can accomplish both functions will cost you $1,200-$2,000. That saves you a big chunk of change!

This isn’t the only versatile outdoor kitchen appliance, however. How about the star of your outdoor kitchen? Why, the grill of course!

You may be torn between a gas grill and a charcoal grill. Rather than purchasing two grills… Why not just get a gas grill with a charcoal tray? It won’t be a pure charcoal experience… But it will at least replicate the flavor you’re going for.

There are also many accessories you can add to your gas grill. Smoker box, rotisserie, etc. All of these contribute to the versatility of your grill.

Point is… When it comes to appliances, do your research! Oftentimes, a single appliance can accomplish many tasks alone or with accessories. Minimizing the appliances you purchase simplify building an outdoor kitchen on a budget.

4. Consider an Alternative Solution

Since we offer an alternative outdoor kitchen solution… You may be thinking, “of course you would say this!” We will admit we’re a bit biased here… But hear us out.

People veer away from prefab outdoor kitchens for multiple reasons. Some solutions don’t allow you to customize your layout… Others are concerned about receiving a cheap product that won’t hold up.

We understand these concerns. They’re completely valid! However… Not all prefabricated outdoor kitchens are made equal.

Why RTA is a Good Consideration if Your on a Budget

LINEAR LAYOUT

$6,000 – $10,000

L-SHAPE LAYOUT

$12,000 – $18,000

U-SHAPE LAYOUT

$18,000 – $28,000

Take RTA, for example. We provide an affordable prefab solution without the pitfalls homeowners normally encounter.

Want a custom outdoor kitchen? We can do it. Even better… Our outdoor kitchens are made with high quality materials designed to stand the test of time. No matter what climate you live in.

But we digress…  You want to know how to save money on an outdoor kitchen.

Benefits of Prefab Options on a Budget

Say you decide on a prefab option.

A great benefit of prefabricated outdoor kitchens is they are lightweight compared to traditional methods.

Generally speaking… You won’t need structural footings or additional support for your patio or deck.

This is quite convenient! You simply install without having to put in any other legwork. Therefore… You save some money not having to hire an engineer to ensure your patio doesn’t settle or sink over time.

Also know that most prefab outdoor kitchens are not considered permanent structures. While this may not seem important to know… It actually means you can often avoid the process and expense of obtaining permits.

Obviously, check with your town office first! Know that if you hire a contractor or have a permanent structure built… You can pretty much guarantee you’ll need a permit. This can drag out your timeline by a mile!

If you choose a semi-DIY product like what we offer at RTA… You can design it yourself while also having access to our design experts. From there, you can assemble yourself without ever needing a contractor.

This is quite a contrast from how other outdoor kitchen companies operate. Many will charge you just to see a design. And with contractors being busier than ever… Labor can get expensive.

If you skip the contractor entirely, you don’t save just money. In some cases… You save your sanity as well!

YOUR CUSTOM OUTDOOR KITCHEN KIT

RTA Outdoor Living has options for every budget. The best part? You get to design it yourself, for free.
Can You Save if You Hire a Contractor?

At the same time, prefab outdoor kitchens aren’t for everyone. If you’re set on hiring a contractor or builder Can you still save money?

In some cases, yes.

First… Let’s get clear on the difference between a contractor and an outdoor kitchen builder.

Outdoor kitchen builders generally specialize in outdoor kitchens. Yes, we know it’s obvious! On the other hand, contractors do not always specialize in outdoor kitchens. More often than not, we can consider them generalists.

What does this mean for your outdoor kitchen on a budget?

Well, if you hire a contractor… You may shell out extra for unnecessary labor by learning on the job.

Another aspect to look out for is change orders. An outdoor kitchen builder has systems in place. They know how to price your project. A contractor doesn’t necessarily have this experience… Therefore, you can get hit with change orders through the span of your project. This can seriously hurt your wallet!

We’ve covered a lot here… But there’s still one more tip we have to review.

5. Knowledge is Power

Knowledge on… What, exactly?

Well, knowledge is important for all aspects of your outdoor kitchen project. Here, we really want to draw your attention to materials.

At the end of the day… Materials are going to comprise a large percentage of your budget. They are also directly tied to the quality and longevity of your investment.

Therefore… We need to get the best price possible while also maintaining quality in materials.

How do we determine this?

Well… Learning about outdoor kitchen materials, of course.

Learning About the Best Materials

In the process, you’ll also need to understand your environment. Some materials will perform well in your climate… Others not so much. This is particularly true of homeowners who live in harsh, northern climates. You have to be far more careful of materials than someone living in sunny southern California.

Wondering where to start?

Lucky for you, we’ve already thought about that. Take a peek at our blog for a framework on all things outdoor kitchen materials.

Balancing Aesthetics & Quality

There are two main things to consider when deciding on materials. First and foremost, consider durability. Obviously, you want your investment to last as long as possible! More durable materials lead to a longer lasting outdoor kitchen.

On the other side of the coin… We have aesthetics. You also want your outdoor kitchen to look good in your backyard. Who wants an eyesore? The materials you choose should create a beautiful centerpiece in your backyard.

Of course… Looks aren’t everything. If you select materials solely on aesthetic… It won’t mean much when your outdoor kitchen breaks down in a couple years.

While we need to balance aesthetic and quality… Make sure you never compromise on the quality side of that equation.

It’s definitely tempting to skimp on quality to save money now… But you’re much better off shaving costs down in steps 1-4. Using cheaper materials can cause you serious headaches down the road. The future repairs and replacements often end up costing you more in the long run.

If you’re still unsure what materials you should use… Consult with an outdoor kitchen expert! They will give you the best insight on what materials will work best for your needs.

Bringing All Your Savings Together

At this stage, you have a lot of information to consider!

More likely than not, you won’t have to employ all five tips to stay within your budget. Review each one carefully to decide which tactics will be best for your project.

Now, some of you may be feeling overwhelmed. We won’t dismiss the fact that outdoor kitchens can be a complicated project!

Does this have to be Complicated?

Thankfully, outdoor kitchen projects don’t have to be complicated. There are alternatives out there that do most of the thinking for you.

Allow us to throw our hat into the ring. RTA outdoor kitchens are the simplest and easiest way to complete your project.

Why?

We shared with you some of the benefits earlier… But let’s review.

All outdoor kitchen projects begin with a design. For many homeowners… This alone can be a long and convoluted process.

We take a different approach. RTA offers a free online design tool. You can have a full outdoor kitchen layout prepared in the span of 5 minutes. From there, your draft enters the hands of our design experts.

You’ll be assigned a personal design expert. They assist and walk you through every step of the process. Questions? Concerns? They’ll answer all with your best interests in mind.

Once your design is complete… It heads off to be handmade by our manufacturing team in Cambridge City, Indiana.

From there, it’s shipped to your door 95% complete. We should mention that our panels are made from an ultra high performance concrete. So no matter where you live… You can feel confident our materials are designed to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at it.

All that’s left to do is assemble. With a friend and a couple basic tools… You can complete this task in as little as a couple hours.

That’s it. You’re free to grill and host the moments that matter.

Simple, right?

We think so too. Compared to any other outdoor kitchen solution on the market… RTA is hands down the most convenient way to add a custom grill island to your backyard.

Have more questions? Feel free to schedule a call with one of our design experts. We at RTA are passionate about all things outdoor kitchens… So we’re more than happy to assist you with your project!

We hope to hear from you!

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