Outdoor kitchens are one of the biggest trends in deck design, with most demand at the high end.
Credit: Archadeck Outdoor kitchens are one of the biggest trends in deck design, with most demand at the high end.

Monica Vaughan of Archadeck says outdoor kitchens are “among the biggest trends in deck design.” The production coordinator of drafting for the nation's largest deck franchiser, based in Richmond, adds that while company franchises can design and build any type of outdoor kitchen, Archadeck sees the most demand at the high end — $75,000 to $100,000 projects, incorporating gas, electric, and plumbing hookups and all the subcontractors that come with it.

Lawrence Winterburn, president of GardenStructure.com, a network of contractors across North America, notes that outdoor kitchens at these levels tend not to be on decks but to involve decks as part of the landscape design. What's more, including that kitchen in the design inspires roof enclosures, pergolas, arbors, screens, fences, and other fancy carpentry typically within a deck builder's bailiwick.

Like Full-Tilt Remodeling “Outdoor kitchen” describes a range of projects, including, at entry level, an outdoor grill and countertop, but expanding from there to a high end that might include working plumbing, locking appliances, beer taps, and a bar.

In the high-end scenario, the deck builder is likely part of a large crew, more like full-tilt remodeling. Winterburn's experience is that “no single contractor is likely to do the whole job.”

Still, if your customer's budget isn't $75K, there's a growing suite of options that will fit the bill and match your company's experience and design capabilities. Whatever type of outdoor kitchen you are asked to design and install, one key to efficiency and preventing callbacks is partnering with an expert.

One-Stop Operator That would be someone like Richard Rodriquez. The owner- operator of Outdoor Kitchen Co., in Nottingham, Pa., has installed everything from basic grill and countertop units to pizza ovens. He is both a skilled designer and a source for the appliances themselves.

If you feel like your role building the actual deck gets short shrift, don't. Depending on how customers face the cabinets and appliances (stone is popular) and what they select for counter-tops (think granite or concrete), Archadeck's Vaughan points out the potential need for framing upgrades — joists, footings, posts, ledger connections, etc., for deck-mounted systems.

However your process for the installation goes, one benchmark of quality work might be an invitation to your customer's first big dinner party. Hey, if you have to hunt for leads, doing it over gourmet food at a tricked-out, decked-out space is a good start.