‘Expert Advice’ column

Offering year-round entertaining, extending your living space and adding value to your home, it’s little wonder that Aussie home owners have embraced outdoor kitchens with enthusiasm.

However, there are traps for young players, so whether you’re adding an outdoor kitchen to an existing home or incorporating one into a new build, it’s important to do your research and plan carefully before taking the plunge.

 

As a first step talk to your local council about relevant regulations as some require professional plans to be drawn up for the project and submitted to council for approval. Some authorities also require a flame failure device to be connected to gas barbecues. This feature can’t be retro-fitted, so it pays to seek out a barbecue that has one fitted at time of manufacture, such as Heatlie’s Island Gourmet Elite. Speaking of gas you’ll also need to consider whether you want to go for LPG or Natural Gas, as natural gas connections need to be installed during the building process.

 

Another big consideration is position, particularly if you want to use your outdoor kitchen year-round. Outdoor kitchens that lead seamlessly from a home’s internal living areas or kitchen are ideal, but free-standing, gazebo-style kitchens can also work well. Consider also whether you want to incorporate a dining area or even a relaxed alfresco living space, complete with big-screen TV and bar area.   And don’t forget to think about how you can make the most of any views and privacy factors, and protecting your outdoor kitchen from the elements with a roof or sail.

 

Your budget is also something to consider early. Do plenty of research before you start and be realistic – as well as building materials you’ll need to factor in appliances and a barbecue, bench-tops – even floor coverings and furniture.

 

The next big decision is whether you opt for a built-in outdoor kitchen designed and constructed by a builder or a modular system, which are cost-efficient and often easy to install. Also consider whether your outdoor kitchen will be a fully-contained external kitchen – complete with fridge, sink and bench-tops – or simply an extension of your existing kitchen.

 

When it comes to bench-tops, granite and stone are popular options for outdoor kitchens, mainly because most barbecues need to be installed into a non-combustible bench. The exception is the Heatlie Island Gourmet Elite, which is designed specifically for outdoor kitchens. You can install this unit into any type of bench-top – even MDF and wood – as it’s been designed to deflect heat away from the bench.

 

Of course, the barbecue is the centrepiece of any outdoor kitchen and it pays to choose wisely.

My best tip is to buy for the long-term – choose a unit that offers a ten-year warranty, that’s made in Australia and that offers the ability to buy customised products and spare parts down the track. This approach will definitely save you money in the long-term. Also consider whether you really need a hood – or it just for looks – and beware of gimmicky trends like infra-red burners, lava rocks and ceramic brickettes – in my experience, they often don’t live up to the hype.

 

There’s no doubt that creating an outdoor kitchen has many benefits, however it pays to do you research, budget wisely and think carefully about what type of kitchen will suit your family’s needs.

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