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Friday, August 2, 2013

Outdoor kitchens heat up remodeling scene

Outdoor kitchens heat up remodeling scene

By Jim Nowlin, Remodeling Concepts

Many homeowners enjoy the summer months - and spring, fall and winter - with the sizzle of their outdoor grill. But running back and forth between the kitchen and the barbecue can get old quickly.
Outdoor kitchens make life easier for those who enjoy grilling meals and entertaining outdoors, making a deck or patio an extension of your living space. It also can enhance your home's resale value. With the proper amount of forethought and planning, you'll be enjoying your meals in the great outdoors in no time.
Here are some factors to consider when determining if an outdoor kitchen is right for your household.
What works best in your space?
Outdoor kitchens can be as elaborate or as simple as you'd like. But to make the most of your new space, you need to consider the design carefully.
Think about how the space will be used. Do you want guests to eat outside or mingle while you cook? What features (pool, trees, etc.) are in your backyard and need to be worked around? Is there enough ventilation area so smoke from the grill can blow away?
Have a professional check the patio or deck where you plan on building your outdoor kitchen beforehand. While most can support the additional weight, you may need to add structural support.
Make sure there is plenty of space for people to watch without getting in the way or being too close to open flames. Typically, there should be 3 feet of space on either side of the grill for work space and food preparation.
How often will you be using your outdoor kitchen?
This will determine numerous factors, including the equipment you purchase. If you will use your outdoor kitchen just in the summer, a grill with wheels can be moved into the garage and protected from the elements once the seasons change. These types of grills are the most common and come in a wide variety of sizes and prices with a range of features.
If you want to use your outdoor kitchen year-round, consider a built-in grill. Look for one with side burners in the base unit that allow for cooking at different temperatures simultaneously. This base can provide extra countertop and storage space. Make sure the grill is in an area that can withstand high temperatures and is impervious to stray embers or sparks, such as a stone patio. You won't be able to take it with you if you move, so think carefully before investing a lot of money in a permanent grill.
Take into account lighting needs. If you eat or entertain into the dark evening, you'll want direct light for work areas. Softer lighting works well for socializing areas.
What other equipment do you need?
Standard grill accessories include griddles for grilling fish and vegetables, a meat thermometer and tongs. An exhaust hood for a built-in grill will keep smoke out of guests' eyes. Refrigerators with ice makers are ideal for storing beverages and food that needs to be kept cold. An outdoor sink makes prepping and cleaning veggies an easy task. Unless you plan on washing dishes outside, a cold-water connection is all you need.
For small appliances and stereos, you'll need outdoor GFCI outlets. Consult with a professional electrician for local code requirements. Consider purchasing patio heaters or an outdoor fireplace if you plan on grilling in the chilly months.
For those days with inclement weather, you'll want to get a cover for your grill. Select weatherproof materials for countertops, cabinets and other elements of your kitchen. Stainless steel, slate, tile, stucco and stone all work well. A large tent or outdoor umbrella can cover your guests and equipment and provide shelter from the sun or rain.

This article was provided by a member of the Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association. The Remodelers Council is dedicated to promoting professionalism and public awareness through education, certification and service to the community. To find a professional remodeler in your area, visitwww.ghba.org/consumers.

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