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Outdoor Kitchens: Investment in the Eye of the Beholder

Apr 13, 2020 by Marc Rapport

Each year, as the days get longer and the weather gets nicer, many of us look for ways to enjoy more time outdoors. And for homeowners, this can mean looking for new ways to make the most of their own backyards.

An attractive aspect of outdoor living can be an outdoor kitchen -- part of the bigger indoor-outdoor living movement, where homeowners are looking to bring the functionality and comfort of their indoor living space outside.

And is there a better way to enjoy your outdoor space than doing the cooking and eating right there? But before you decide to invest in a full kitchen setup, here are some things to ask yourself.

1. How much will it cost to build?

The list of amenities an outdoor kitchen can have is long. From a nice grilling workspace to a fully operational kitchen with water, gas, and power, the options can add up quickly -- and so can the cost.

HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI) says a nice grilling station can cost a homeowner about $5,000, but a full kitchen with water, power, and appliances can run that tab up to $50,000. So, before you decide to invest in an outdoor kitchen, it's important to consider your budget and prioritize where you spend your money. While a stone pizza oven might look great, it's very expensive, and how often are you going to host homemade pizza nights before you're burned out?

2. How much will it cost to maintain?

Once you've spent the money to build your dream kitchen, you'll want to make sure you're protecting your investment by properly maintaining your space. If you're considering adding a space that has electricity, gas, water, and even cable running to it, how much will this increase your monthly expenses? And as all homeowners know, you own it, you pay for it; if you're installing a kitchen that is exposed to the elements, maintenance and repairs will be part of the experience.

3. How much will you use it?

Much like the ellipticals, treadmills, and stationary bicycles collecting dust in homes across the land, it's easy to build an outdoor kitchen with good intentions that then gets little use. Before investing thousands of dollars in building an outdoor kitchen, it's important to really consider how much you're really going to use it.

Weather is just the first consideration. For the at-home grill master, you may be confident that you'll make an outdoor kitchen a worthwhile investment. But if your culinary skills are normally limited to the microwave and restaurants, your money may be better spent on your weekly pizza takeout than building your own pizza oven.

4. Is it a good investment?

If you plan to sell your home anytime soon, it's also important to consider whether the projects you are taking on in your home are worth the cash you'll be laying out. With an outdoor kitchen, it's hard to say definitively. does cite around a 55% return on investment (ROI) on an outdoor patio space that includes a kitchen area. But then in a National Association of Home Builders survey of recent and prospective homebuyers, 31% of respondents put an outdoor kitchen on their list of features they did not want in a house.

Of course, that means 69% of the respondents chose not to put an outdoor kitchen on their list of unwanted features, but still, three out of 10 is a lot of potential buyers who could be turned off by seeing one at a house they're considering.

Still, homeowners looking to maximize their own enjoyment of their backyard might find that an outdoor kitchen is a great investment if it's something they can afford and will use regularly, especially if they live in a part of the country with the kind of weather that lends itself to that lifestyle.

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Marc Rapport has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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