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Cooking Out Is In


Having outdoor living spaces that go well beyond a picnic table and charcoal grill hold appeal for most buyers. Conversation areas, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens range from desirable to “must have” in some parts of the country.

Should You Pay More?

Fans of outdoor kitchens, in particular, point to the social advantages they offer. During parties, especially, everyone can be part of the action. When entertaining outdoors, it also eliminates the trips back and forth between the patio and the kitchen and enables the cook(s) to be outside with everyone else. There is also some energy efficiency to be gained, especially in warmer months. Cooking heats up a home, boosting air conditioner use. Making use of an outside kitchen can reduce energy demand.

Adding an outdoor kitchen to a home can start around $3,000 for a nice grill and counter. Add in amenities, like a refrigerator, pizza oven, sink and cabinents  and the cost can riva that of a new indoor kitchen.

When trying to decide how much to spend, consider how often you will use this extra feature. In some parts of the country, use will be seasonal, and in areas like New England or the Midwest, that season will be much shorter. However, these are also areas where people tend to want to maximize their enjoyment of outdoor time. In warmer climates—California, Florida, the Southwest, and Southeast—outdoor kitchens tend to reflect a lifestyle that moves more seamlessly between outdoor and indoor living.

What to Look for When Buying

When looking at a home with an existing outdoor kitchen, here are some tips for evaluating its value and how to treat it when making an offer.

  • Establish what will be remaining with the house and what will be leaving with the owner—grills, furnishings, and appliances may be portable. Also, be sure to add the items you understand will be sold as part of the home to the addendum of your purchase offer.
  • Check the values of brand-new items online to ensure you are paying a fair value.
  • Verify the appliances are made for outdoor use, protected from the elements, and mounted in place.
  • Assess the condition of the masonry features.
  • Ensure the kitchen appliances and electrical outlets—along with any decking—conform to local code.

The Potential for a Payoff

The National Association of Home Builders estimates that outdoor kitchens can return as much as 130 percent of its cost on resale depending on how recently it was added. A home’s location and the associated climate are also important factors.

Resale value, however, isn’t really the point when it comes to having an outdoor kitchen. It’s about the experience, convenience, and the memories you’ll enjoy of sharing family meals in a natural setting—your own backyard.

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