A couple of years ago the Los Angeles Times reported on outdoor kitchens as trend gaining traction here in SoCal, spotlighting the high-end projects being ordered by our town’s rich and fabulous. The article noted that innovations in materials and design had paved the way for sophisticated installations offering the kind of luxury and convenience that appealed to many more homeowners than previously. The good news is that outdoor kitchens are not just for the one-percenters. A SoCal homeowner doesn’t have to have a mansion or spend a fortune to get in on this perk.

In fact, owners of more modest homes discover that adding an outdoor kitchen is a very cost-effective way to increase a property’s living space. This can transform even a small home into an expansive, spacious entertainment venue. While the high-end features like a super-sized grill with infrared searing zones, a rotisserie and a side burner, a wood-burning pizza oven, and in-ground heating are very impressive, our year-round California weather provides enough fabulousity to make an outdoor kitchen at any price point a game-changer for the homeowner. With a great design, the basics of refrigeration, grill, running water, drain, and lighting go a long way.

The economics of an outdoor kitchen project need to be thought through before getting started with planning. Budgeting for materials, appliances, and construction is pretty straightforward, but to the extent that return on investment is important to you, you should become familiar with what your neighbors have done. If you go too far beyond them in terms of the cost and sophistication of their outdoor kitchens, you’re ROI at resale is likely to be diminished.  Or, if you’re going to be the outdoor kitchen pioneer in the area, your upgrade could give you a price premium on a near-term sale, before the comps have caught up. It’s worth discussing this with a locally-knowledgeable realtor and with your contractor. 

You’ll likely need permits. You’ll probably be building out your house’s plumbing and electrical wiring to support a sink, lighting, and any outdoor appliances like a refrigerator/freezer. If permits are pulled, a reassessment of your property for the value of the improvement may well be followed by an increase in your property taxes. 

An experienced contractor from MG Construction & Decks is your best starting point if you want to explore the option of putting in an outdoor kitchen. They know the drill and have stables of realtors, designers, and other specialists who can inform you on all aspects of the project. Whether you go for an estate-scale glamping park with a wi-fi compatible smart grill or a family-style burgers-and-dogs patio, you’ll be under the same California skies, and loving it.