If you are thinking about turning your backyard into a more enjoyable living space by adding an outdoor kitchen, it’s easy to see why. You can have relaxing evenings outside, barbecuing and drinking cocktails as the sun sets. Your friends and family can come over to take a break from daily stresses, and spend quality time together outside.
Sounds great and all, but is it worth the investment?
There are many outdoor kitchen return-on-investment (ROI) stats flying around out there with no verifiable source to be found. So, let’s take a look at recent traceable studies along with the other factors that should be considered.
By the end, you will have the facts you need to decide if an outdoor kitchen is worth it for you.
Will it make it easier to sell your house?
How beautiful is an outdoor kitchen to prospective buyers?
The American Institute of Architects Q1 Home Designs Survey said 69% of firms reported an increase in outdoor living space activity in 2016. However, an outdoor kitchen has continuously been ranked as one of the undesirable features in a home.
Vice President Rose Quint of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says a recent 2017 survey found that outdoor kitchens aren’t popular with 2017 buyers. This data is consistent with the 2013 findings, stating that 31% of buyers unequivocally reject the idea of an outdoor kitchen, according to the National Association of Home Builders survey on What Buyers Want.
Why are people against them?
Most buyers are more concerned with the necessities like Energy Star appliances, a laundry room, a walk-in pantry, and garage storage, rather than luxury features. One homeowner spent $10,000 building an outdoor kitchen with a nice stone grill island, lighting, electrical, and a refrigerator. He says, “In the end, we enjoyed it for four years before selling the home. According to our real estate agent, our buyer hardly noticed it.”
In the end, we enjoyed it for four years before selling. According to our real estate agent, our buyer hardly noticed it.”
An outdoor kitchen is not likely to help sell your home more quickly because it does not appeal to the majority of homebuyers. However, it will likely be attractive to a specific, smaller audience of people who are looking for more luxurious features in the home.
Outdoor Kitchen ROI: Cost vs. value
What does the monetary return on investment for an outdoor kitchen look like?
Remodeling Magazine investigated the return on investment of an outdoor living area with a kitchen and reported the findings in the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report. The project included a 20 x 20-foot flagstone patio and a stone-veneered modular kitchen complete with a gas grill, a refrigerator, storage, and a sink. It also had a cedar pergola, fire pit, and four chairs.
The total cost was about $52,000, while the value came out around $28,500, giving the project an ROI of about 55%. Compared to the other home improvement projects, this one ranked as almost the worst in terms of ROI, coming in at 27th out of 29.
Of course, ROI will depend on where you live, what materials you use, which appliances you buy, and how it all comes together. Michael Kelczewski, a Realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, says, “Determining the resale value of a specific amenity is challenging, as each submarket differs. That said, the general rule of thumb is a 50% ROI for outdoor kitchens.”
While not the best home improvement project you can invest in to get your money back, it does offer value in other ways.
Beyond ROI: The experiential value factors
The experiential value brought from an outdoor kitchen should also be considered when evaluating the investment. Many people add this feature because they want to expand their living space, enjoy more time outdoors, and have a place to entertain guests.
In fact, Absolute Outdoor Kitchens surveyed many people who have completed outdoor kitchens and found that the number one benefit was that they were having more fun entertaining.
How important is it to you to have an inviting and fun place to share meals with your family and friends? For many, it is a dream to be able to create this kind of experience in their backyard. Instead of spending money going out to eat or taking expensive vacations, you are creating your paradise at home. A home you don’t feel like you need a vacation from. That has a value in and of itself that only you can put a price on.
Backyard Kitchen ROI: The Verdict
If you really want an outdoor kitchen and will enjoy the space, then it certainly can be worth the investment. To minimize losses, here are a few tips:
- Financing costs can be minimized by comparing the offers of various lenders to ensure you get the best deal. Don’t settle before shopping around, as online personal loan lenders like Avant, Prosper, Lightstream, and many more are competing to win your business. Compare top lenders here.
- HomeAdvisor reports that the average cost for an outdoor kitchen starts at around $2,700 and goes up to about $16,000, so you can start small. Start with an outdoor grill and bar and see how much use and enjoyment you get out of it. Then, you can make upgrades if it’s worth it to you and your family.
- Shop around for designers and construction companies to find the best value.
Outdoor kitchens can be a wonderful addition to your current living space. However, whether or not it’s worth the investment will depend on if the total value justifies your costs. To find out, identify how much your outdoor kitchen is going to cost. Research the typical ROI on this project in your local area. Then factor in your experiential value. Then, you can make the call.
Jessica Walrack is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney, The Simple Dollar, Interest.com, Commonbond, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Guardian, Personalloans.org and many others. She specializes in taking personal finance topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them accessible and fun.