How To Build An Outdoor Kitchen On A Budget {Cut Costs But Not Quality}

Do you want an outdoor kitchen to take your meals, parties and your backyard to the next level? Do you know that outdoor kitchens are highly coveted and add value to your home?

In this article, we’ll try to cut the costs of building an outdoor kitchen without sacrificing on its overall quality.

How To Build An Outdoor Kitchen On A Budget: Set a budget and plan for all costs to add up to 80% of that. Unknown costs may occur and you’ll be covered. DIY saves you money, but so does letting go of using sinks, fridges, power lines, building at high season and acquiring permits. 

How Do Outdoor Kitchens Add Value To A Home?

Resale value and assets included in your property give you leverage and fills your pocket with extra income in the event that you wish to sell your home. In the meantime, it’s time to enjoy a life outdoors with an added living space that expands your regularly occupied space in and around your home.

You spend more time outdoors and connect yourself and your home to fresh air, hosted events, gatherings and any excuse to grill and chill outside instead of stuffing ourselves in our home kitchens. Fire up the heat and fill the air with the aroma of fresh food that doesn’t get into your furniture, fabric and linens indoors.

An outdoor kitchen is trendy and popular right now. They are routinely shown on home and garden TV shows and YouTube channels. You can have your own outdoor kitchen without breaking the bank to get one.

Why Should I Build An Outdoor Kitchen Closer To The House?

You may think that the outdoor kitchen will look best near the edge of your backyard property, but it’s better to stay close to home. The following reasons are self-explanatory:

  • It’s cheaper.
  • It’s more convenient. 
  • Less covering or shade needed (the house will cover most of it).
  • No need for more patio flooring.
  • Use the utilities and power lines already in place.
  • Avoid additional plumbing costs.

How Much Cheaper?

Covering

Without the need to buy or install a new roof, pergola, gazebo or cabana, you’ll save anywhere from $300 on a DIY project to $15,000 or more.

Flooring

Adding extra concrete, tiles, brick or any material you choose requires labor and materials. Your backyard deck that is in place can house the outdoor kitchen without building more flooring further away. Expect savings at about $1,200-$9,000.

Power

Running power over to an outdoor kitchen in the outskirts of your property will eat up some of your precious budget. Expect another $300-$2,500 savings here.

Plumbing

A sink and fridge are two items you have to carefully reconsider. Most budget friendly outdoor kitchens leave them out of the plans to save a ton of money on plumbing and the cost of appliances.

Skipping the fridge and sink and staying close to the ones in the home will save you $1,000-$3,000 while the plumbing costs could be canceled to save you another $300-$1,500.

How Much Is An Outdoor Kitchen Going To Cost?

A DIY project with a few friends could be as cheap as $300 plus the pizza and beer for your pals. Contractors could be hired and they can show you two options. Prefabricated outdoor kitchens and custom setups for your space and taste requirements.

Minimum Prices

  • DIY = $300
  • Prefabricated = $1,500
  • Custom = $2,500

Maximum Prices

You could go as high as you want. The sky is the limit here, but these prices are commonly quoted for all the bells and whistles included.

  • DIY = $3,000
  • Prefabricated = $30,000
  • Custom = $50,000

You would have to consider the type of stone, wood and finishings you’d like.

What Are The Benefits Of Movable Outdoor Kitchen?

You can apply the DIY prices of about $300-$3,000 and have a movable outdoor kitchen to save you money and headaches.

  • No need for a permit
  • Flexible space
  • Easily winterized and stored away

Permits

Getting permission to build is a hassle and you could be turned down. An outdoor kitchen as a permanent structure usually requires building permits. A movable outdoor kitchen is not permanent so it’s exempt from permits.

Flexible Space

The flexibility offer you the chance to use the space in multiple ways. If you’re throwing a party with many kids, it might be better to open up the space for them to run around and keep the grill off to the side. The options are yours to play around with.

Winterizing

Many colder climates in the winter would force outdoor kitchen owners into finding ways to winterize and prevent exposure to frigid conditions. Moving the outdoor kitchen to the garage or shed would be an option worth looking into.

What Are Some Items I Shouldn’t Include To Save Money On An Outdoor Kitchen?

You can increase your counter space and feel like your outdoor kitchen is luxurious to you without having to fill it up with expensive appliances and options like the ones below:

  • second grill
  • pizza oven
  • stove and burners
  • fridge
  • conventional oven
  • wine fridge
  • ice machines
  • taps and kegs
  • sink
  • griddle
  • smoker
  • covering

You can consider buying portable or smaller options for all of the above, but the costs need to be reduced without sacrificing on your overall feeling of enjoying the outdoor cooking space.

YouTube video

Why Should I Use A Propane Grill?

Running gas lines are going to cost money and will need permits. This is not something most people do themselves. The labor, time and costs will be saved with a propane tank.

Sure, you’ll have to change the propane tank when it runs out, but the installation costs are over $1,000 per gas line or more. The propane options allows for movability and flexibility to design a functional outdoor kitchen on a budget.

Can I Buy A Used Outdoor Kitchen And Make It Look New?

The term “used” could be substituted for “pre-loved” here as you’ll take on ownership of a prefabricated outdoor kitchen from a retailer or private seller. You can cut your costs in half this way and still end up with a big, beautiful setup.

With a little sprucing up and finishing touches, you can make it look good as new. You can piece together what you need from online stores and marketplaces where sellers can offer you an outdoor kitchen island or the material needed to build the countertop and base.

You can save 75% or more this way. Your property value still rises with this addition to your home and no one will know how cheap it actually was when you went for a “pre-loved” set-up.

How Can I Extend The Outdoor Kitchen Countertop And Save Money?

Every foot of additional countertop space is going to run you over $300. Consider the type of finish you will use and watch that price grow exponentially higher. The best solution might just be a cart with wheels.

  • An outdoor kitchen cart = $200-$500
  • 3 feet of extra countertop space = $900-$3,000

Another advantage of the movable kitchen cart is the multifunctional uses it can provide you and the ease of storage. You can use it indoors or place it in the garage to not take up too much space. Also, you won’t need to include that in your plans that you submit for a building permit on the rest of your permanent outdoor kitchen space.

When you think of a kitchen cart think about the extra options such as the following:

  • drawers
  • buckets 
  • shelves
  • a bar station
  • tray storage
  • garbage receptacle 
  • hooks
  • magnets

What Type of Finish Should I Use? Stone, Ceramic, Stucco?

The most affordable option is going to be stucco. It’s made of aggregates, binder and water that hardens and fits in well with the outside of your house.

It can be painted to blend in even better. Stucco is about $5 per square foot and multiple times cheaper than using stones like granite. Choose outdoor ceramic tiles over stone. Consider the differences between these three choices:

  • Stucco = $5 per square foot
  • Outdoor ceramic tile = $10 per square foot
  • Granite = $50 per square foot

We encourage you to shop around and find better prices than these estimates. No matter what, the order will go with stucco as the cheapest, then outdoor ceramic tile followed by various options of stone.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is The Best Covering Option On A Budget?

Hopefully you can place the outdoor kitchen close enough to your home where your roof provides the coverage you need. A pergola at $300-$10,000 or a gazebo up to $20,000 can be avoided with your home’s roof and an outdoor umbrella or sail shade.

When Is the Best Time To Build An Outdoor Kitchen?

Don’t wait until summer because a contractor will be either too busy or their prices will be higher. Try to schedule professional work to be done in the autumn or winter after the summer season is over where prices, negotiability and timelines work in your favor.

What Outdoor Kitchen Items Are The Most Important To Spend Money On?

Safety comes first. Don’t skimp out on anything that reduces durability or is made with combustible materials. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets should be new and hopefully you won’t need to use them. High grade stainless steel will not corrode for years to come. Don’t buy anything that will rust or corrode in less than a couple of years.

Good luck and enjoy the good times with your outdoor kitchen.