ARTICLE Penny Lewis

Indoor kitchens are one of the most expensive rooms in the house, so it stands to reason outdoor kitchens don’t come cheap. Expect to pay at least $20,000 to really get cooking outside. Landscape architect Nichola Vague from Zones, says basic outdoor kitchens start with standalone components fitted into an existing space. The most entry-level pieces are available from hardware chain stores. Prepare to spend a bit if a top-of-the-range outdoor kitchen is on your wishlist. It’s not unheard of to spend $40,000 or more on a kitchen inside – and this price bracket can be the same for outdoors, too.

Which appliances are the best for basic outdoor kitchens?

It goes without saying, but be sure to choose appliances specially designed for outdoor use, especially if your outdoor kitchen is not undercover. Nichola says basic outdoor kitchens can be as simple as stainless steel units bought at Mitre 10, which are more elaborate than a barbeque. “They might have a type of hotplate in addition to the frill, as well as a couple of cupboards,” she says. Prices start from around $800.

Some off-the-shelf outdoor kitchen models have granite benchtops, cupboards and even a sink. It’s now standard for even basic barbeques to have hoods, so expect an outdoor kitchen retailing for around $2,500 to have one, too. A hood means you effectively have an outdoor oven, not just a grill.

Built-in stainless stell hooded barbeque unit with stroage and sink

Love pizza but don’t have the space or budget for a dedicated pizza oven? Consider an inexpensive pizza stone. Just leave the stone to heat up sufficiently under the hood for a crispy base and cook your pizza in only a matter of minutes.

Refrigeration is also a biggie if you want to avoid walking back inside all the time to fetch food, condiments and drinks. Even if you are not storing food outside permanently, you will ideally have refrigeration to keep drinks cold and keep chilled food safe from spoiling. Small stainless steel 118-litre capacity fridges especially made for the outdoors are priced from $800. Larger models are also available.

Outdoor appliance costs
Start from approximately $800 each

Should I use electricity or gas?

Electricity is essential in any outdoor kitchen, just as it is for an indoor kitchen. But there are special requirements when you are dealing with electricity outside. Trilect Electrical services tells its clients that Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets must be installed in any area where electricity and water may come into contact. A landscaping specialist will not only know the codes inside and out, they’ll also know about the requirements of GFCI outlets. It’s a good idea to put the outdoor kitchen on its own GFCI circuit board inside your house, because it’s far simpler to reset the system from indoors.

Theresa Davis, leisure buyer for Bunnings, says the Metador Entertainer 6-burner outdoor kitchen it sells runs on LPG out of the box, but it can run on main gas (natural gas) once converted by a licensed gas fitter/plumber. “We also recommend checking with local council requirements in regards to gas conversion.”

Theresa says it’s personal preference to run natural gas or LPG. Running on natural gas will eliminate the trouble to purchase/refill LPG gas bottles. Running on LPG will be convenient if the kitchen needs to be relocated or when main gas is not readily available.

Plumbing installation and water supply

Theresa says the Metador Entertainer 6-burner outdoor kitchen it sells comes equipped with a mixer tap for hot and cold water and would generally be required to be plumbed in by a licensed plumber. “The wastewater goes through a pipe from the bottom of the sink and can be directed into a drain or can be properly plumbed in as well. We would recommend checking with local council requirements in regards to water supply and waste management,” Theresa says.

What type of lighting should I plan on getting?

Just as you need the right lighting in your indoor kitchen, so too will you need the right illumination outside. A mix of task lighting for prep work and cooking is required, but also ambient lighting too, to set the right mood for the dining area. Nichola Vague recommends investing in the right lighting. She believes in having fewer, good quality lights, rather than poor quality lights that you will end up replacing.

“I tend to use good lights throughout. There’s nothing worse than fitting a house out with lighting and then having to replace it a year later.” 

Make sure the lighting you choose is specially designed for outdoor use. Outdoor lights with 2-3 year warranties can be purchased from Mitre 10 for around $85 each.

Outdoor lighting costs
Approximately $85 each, excludes installation.

Does everything have to be brand new in the outdoor kitchen?

Well-known chef Al Brown has chosen many pre-loved materials forthe outdoor kitchen at his family home in Ellerslie, Auckland. Many of the fittings and decorative elements he transplanted from his previous home in Wellington. His three requirements for his outdoor kitchen were copious bench space, running water and something to wash up in and he found an old washtub in an inorganic collection. “I love original, not bought off the shelf. Finding ideas and scouring recycle yards is part of the process.”

Nichola Vague says she loves the whole movement of repurposed materials. “I haven’t had much to do with that, but I love that whole look. I love that whole movement.”

Outdoor fireplace place which can also be used as a pizza oven

 

How much does it cost to add heating?

You may like to add on to an existing outdoor fireplace, or if you are starting from scratch, freestanding powder-coated gas outdoor heaters start from around $330.

Basic outdoor heating costs
From $330

If you need some inspiration, check out this outdoor lounge and barbeque area Zones created for $27,000.

How can I create an outdoor kitchen on a mid-range budget?

Nichola Vague classifies mid-range outdoor kitchens as when you actually start looking to create a space, rather than insert cooking appliances into an existing outdoor area. The more customisation, the greater the expense. At the very least, you will need to invest in shelter to get the most out of your outdoor kitchen and increase its usability and comfort. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have enough space for prep – always a must in any kind of kitchen. Budgeting $30,000 to $40,000 should get you a good mid-range kitchen to suit your needs.

 

How much will paving cost?

You will need to choose materials that stand up to the rigours of the weather – and cooking. Concrete is a popular choice for paving, benchtops and fireplace surrounds, but as it’s a porous substance it will need to be sealed. The typical cost for a new concrete patio is from around $315 per square metre. This price will vary, depending on size, access and any removal of existing areas.

Karen Syddall from The Tile Depot says there’s not a lot that can’t be tiled, so tiles are a good option for paving, benchtops and other surfaces. Popular looks at the moment are natural and organic. Because tiles are fired at 12,000-13,000C they’re often used as barbeque hotplates.

Outdoor tiles must be porcelain because they have a low density/porosity biscuit (the first firing of pottery, which permanently hardens the clay), which makes them frost-resistant and anti-slip. There are different levels of anti-slip, depending on where you are tiling. “For example, the area around a swimming pool requires a higher anti-slip rating than a front-door entrance that may be partially covered.”

Outdoor paving costs
From $315 per m2, installed.

What kind of mid-range kitchen appliances are available?

DCS grills by Fisher & Paykel are priced from $6500. They are marketed as grills, rather than barbeques, defined by their higher burner power and ability to quickly reach intense, searing temperatures, beyond the realm of ordinary barbeques.

For a hide-away designer touch, Kiwis heading over the ditch should check out the Tilt outdoor kitchen from Tait showrooms in Melbourne’s Fitzroy and Sydney’s Redfern. Designed by Justin Hutchinson, the Tilt Outdoor Kitchen fits into a box that opens to create a 2.2m-high awning.

Made from folded aluminium and stainless steel with timber battens, the Tilt comes with an Electrolux 900mm barbeque and utensil shelves. Optional accessories include a Hafele sink and Roger Seller tap, wok burner, roasting hood and integrated LED lighting, rain awning and internal shelving.

Concrete footings, electrical, natural gas and water connection will need to be talked about and arranged with your landscaping specialist.

Mid-range appliance costs
From $6,500

How much does an outdoor shelter cost?

You will need to spend $10,000 to $25,000 for a pergola with louvres to protect you from the sun and rain. Louvretec super roofs are designed with a minimum 4m-span and are engineered to withstand super-high wind zones. Louvretec also sells a range of PVC and mesh shade blinds for sun and wind protection along the sides of your pergola. Some louvred pergolas come with strips of gas or electric heating built into them.

Mid-range outdoor shelter costs
$10,000 - $25,000+, installed

How much do outdoor fireplaces cost?

Many homeowners will choose to link an outdoor kitchen with an outdoor fireplace. “You want to be able to use it as much as possible so you’re not just tied to the summer months. Autumn is the time of year that outdoor living – and outdoor kitchens – come into their own – evenings are crisp and cool. You are outside but in a snug area,” Nichola says. 

Outdoor fireplace costs
From $3,000, excludes installation.

For further inspiration, see how this Auckland family enhanced their outdoor space by installing a louvre roof and a flat top, Japanese-style grill. 

How can I create a luxurious outdoor kitchen?

Landscape designers will work in tandem with architects and kitchen designers to create your ultimate outdoor kitchen. Nichola says high-end outdoor kitchens are fully-customised kitchens, with built-in benches, fridges, plumbing with hot and cold water and even range hoods

What sort of high-end kitchen appliances should I choose?

Nichola says ultimately the price of your outdoor kitchen will depend on the appliances you choose. At the top of her high-end outdoor kitchen checklist are extensive shelter (so it can be enjoyed year-round) and sufficient ventilation.

Homeowners with generous budgets are opting for any fixture and fitting in their outdoor kitchens that you might find in an indoor kitchen. A sturdy stainless steel kitchen sink (around $150, excluding installation) with a gooseneck-type mixer (around $300, excluding installation) is very useful for washing large pans and cooking utensils, or for preparing freshly caught fish, ready for the grill. And if your outdoor fridge is filled to overflowing, a sink is an ideal vessel to fill with ice and keep extra drinks chilled.

Outdoor appliance costs
Outdoor sinks: around $150, excluding installation
Sink mixer taps: around $300, excludes installation

What options do I have in terms of outdoor furniture?

On a high-end budget, you can afford to splurge on designer or bespoke outdoor furniture. High-end dining set options commonly include powder-coated aluminium, teak, rattan or stone - with costs starting around the $5,000 mark.

High-end outdoor dining set costs

From $5,000   

What else is there to consider?

Low-maintenance is the key to an enjoyable outdoor kitchen. Being outside is about leisure time, so you don’t want to have to spend hours outside constantly cleaning. Nichola says other considerations include thinking about how you will use the space – how will you access it from inside?

Is there enough space for circulation so people can move around easily? Is there sufficient bench space for food preparation and stacking dishes? Where is the kitchen positioned in relation to the outdoor dining area? Is there enough room to cook? You may like to consider a bench that doubles as a bar area with stools that can stand up to the rigours of being out in the elements, so that you’re not missing out on the action.

Will you have dedicated storage for crockery, cutlery and serving dishes outside? Ensure there’s a water and insect-proof place to store them, along with your barbeque tools, otherwise you will be carting them outside from your indoor kitchen. A small pantry with cooking oils and condiments is also a great idea.

With hardscaping, a louvre roof, appliances, an outdoor fire and outdoor dining taken care of, all that’s left to think about is the landscape surrounding your kitchen. You might opt for a surrounding vegetable garden, soft garden lights, water features or perhaps a living wall? It all depends on your personal taste, but the landscape surrounding your outdoor kitchen can make or break the mood of your new space. If you need inspiration, check out this stunning outdoor kitchen in Titirangi

Get in touch with Zones to discuss your landscaping project

If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your outdoor kitchen project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build.

Note: All costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a cost estimate accurate to your specific project, please consult your local renovation specialist. All Zones Landscaping franchises are independently owned and operated.