An outdoor kitchen is a great way to increase the value of your house and maximize the enjoyment you get from your property. With careful planning, you can build a kitchen and entertainment area that lets you get many months of use each year.
So, how long will this type of project take? The truth is that every property is unique, and any outdoor kitchen construction timeline will need to be customized for your Hunterdon County, NJ property and community. Here’s what you should know about the typical order of operations to get a sense of exactly what’s involved in building the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.
Phase One: Planning and Design
The design process could begin at any time of year, although it’s helpful to live through a summer in your home so you understand your traffic flow and how you want to use the space. The planning process generally involves the following steps.
- Wish List: Before you speak with a landscape architect, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you want in an outdoor kitchen. This should include its location, must-have appliances and design features and any materials and styles that you love. If you have problem spots that you want to hide or any wonderful views that you’d like to highlight, be sure to include those ideas in your thinking. Brainstorming ahead of time is a good way to jump-start the design process.
- Site Consultation: A professional landscape designer will always make an in-person site visit — it’s the only way to understand all the features and challenges of your property. At the visit, they’ll walk around your property and make notes and sketches of its general shape, size and most salient features. They’ll probably also snap a few photos for reference. This provides crucial information about everything from the soil quality and drainage issues to where the sun rises and sets on your land.
- Initial Design Discussion: After getting a good look at your property, it’s time to sit down and discuss your ideas with the landscaper. They’ll listen to your wish list and take a look at any design inspiration photos you’ve collected. Your landscape architect will also make suggestions for improvement based on experience. Then, you can work together to hone the design.
- Proposal and Estimate: Once your landscape designer has a good sense of what you’re looking for, they’ll draw up plans and provide an estimate. A good estimate will include a full materials price list and expected labor costs.
Phase Two: Permitting and Preparation
Before the outdoor kitchen construction process begins, your landscaper will need to take care of a few things.
- Permitting: Many townships in Hunterdon County, New Jersey require special building permits for outdoor kitchens, particularly those that require building a freestanding roof structure or a substantial outdoor hearth. Every municipality is different, but a qualified professional knows how to navigate the permitting process to get your project approved.
- Ordering Materials: Once you’ve approved the appliances and building materials, your landscaper will order them. If you’ve chosen unique natural stone or something that needs to be special ordered, it could take longer to receive your items.
- Site Preparation: Your landscape designer may need to tear down existing outbuildings or dig up existing lawn. It’s also possible that large rocks or boulders need to be removed or the earth graded or terraced. This will all happen before your outdoor kitchen is installed. Rocky soil or steep grades can add to the time it takes to complete your outdoor kitchen project.
Phase Three: Construction
Once all permits are in place and materials have arrived, it’s time to build your outdoor kitchen.
- Paving: In general, your foundation of natural stone or pavers will be installed first. Typically, this requires putting in a stone dust base and then laying the stone in the pattern you’ve chosen.
- Building Up: Next, it’s time to build any stone walls, benches or countertops you have planned. If your design includes a freestanding roof to protect your outdoor kitchen, it will also be installed.
- Adding Utilities: Before construction is finished, electricians will complete wiring for your grill, appliances and lighting fixtures. The same applies to running water lines to your outdoor kitchen if your design includes a sink.
- Finishing Touches: Finally, appliances and accessories are installed, and the kitchen countertop is added. This is when your landscape designer will add plants and patch the lawn as well.
Two Factors That Affect Your Outdoor Kitchen Construction Timeline in Hunterdon County, NJ
The two biggest issues that can have an effect on your personal project timeline will be 1) permitting and 2) weather. Depending on where in Hunterdon County, permitting can take several weeks to clear — there are several hoops to jump through. Getting started several months before you hope to open your outdoor kitchen can help account for permitting delays and keep things running smoothly.
Early spring weather can be particularly hard to predict, and heavy rains will delay a project. It’s also not possible to begin while the ground is still frozen, so a long winter can cause delays to your timeline in spring. Thunderstorms and strong winds can also put construction on hold, and there’s simply no way to predict when these will pop up. Flexibility is key.
Fortunately, working with a professional landscape architect will ensure that your project runs as smoothly as possible. They have connections to suppliers and municipalities to smooth the process, and they have the experience you need to build your outdoor kitchen efficiently. A true professional will also keep you apprised of any schedule changes that pop up so you’ll know when you can plan that first big barbecue to celebrate your project’s completion.
Why Choose Parker Homescape?
We have transformed hundreds of landscapes in and around the Hunterdon, Somerset, Essex and Union County areas, including Chatham, Basking Ridge and Bedminster since our founding in 2006. Unlike many of our competitors, we undertake only one client project at a time, ensuring that every deadline is met and that every detail is considered. Additionally, a lead foreman with over 30 years of experience oversees your project from start to finish. This approach makes us one of the most sought after landscape design companies in Central New Jersey, and translates into a seamless, stress-free experience for you and your family.
Whether creating a stunning front yard design, installing custom landscape lighting or building a custom outdoor fireplace, we believe that each landscape project is unique. We proudly promise customized solutions, superior customer service and competitive pricing for each of our clients.