All you need to know about getting a built-in outdoor grill

By:  Steven Randel, Houzz

If grilling is one of your favorite outdoor activities, consider creating a built-in grill on your patio or in your yard that allows you to be a chef out in the fresh air.

Grills can make a house party easier by getting everyone outside. Your family and friends will feel more relaxed, because they can really kick back on lounge chairs and let the kids go crazy on the lawn or in the pool, and everyone can enjoy the aroma of delectable dishes sizzling over the fire. Could this be the year for a built-in grill?

An arrangement like this makes it easier to cook and serve, and it can add a lot to your patio design. This marvelous wooded setting has an equally marvelous configuration with its grill.

Pergolas can nicely frame an outdoor cooking area. Fixed lighting and other details combine to make this a highly functional and beautiful setup.

Who to hire: Many contractors do this type of work on a regular basis. If you find a contractor you like, ask to see photos of similar previous projects; your results could be very similar. This can be a great way to go if you already have a good idea of what you want and you like the person’s work. Some businesses that sell grills offer their own design and build services.

Hire a designer such as a landscape architect if you have an area that is more challenging, such as a sloped backyard. You also may want to involve a designer if you need to coordinate your grilling area with existing features in your landscape.

Bringing in a designer is best done as soon as possible in your project. He or she may offer suggestions that you have not considered and often has specialized knowledge that could even save you money.

Cost: Once you find a gas grill you like (nice ones run around $1,000), it will need a base to support it and the simplest wood frame, possibly with a stucco finish. Labor, materials and design could be a few hundred dollars.

More extravagant grills obviously cost more, and you may want to have stone wrapped around the base of your grill station and then have it topped with a custom concrete counter. By the time you get all of the materials, the grill and the design drawings, and have paid for the labor to have it built, you will be in the territory of several thousand dollars.

Sloping terrains and second levels cost more, too. And consider “project creep.” Projects often end up being more expensive than you anticipate, simply because you end up doing more improvements along the way. You might want to add a roof to your new grilling area, for example.

This patio is more intimate. You will want to consider scale in planning your design. Large yards can easily take sprawling configurations, and smaller spaces need to be appropriately proportioned.

Areas sandwiched between structures can be great places for your built-in grill. This handsome brick structure holds the grill and has plenty of utility space while making a very nice architectural statement to define this area.

The beautiful white limestone exterior of this house has been extended to subtly provide a comfortable place for a grill. You may want your grill to blend in, just like this one.

Typical project length: Give yourself at least two months from conception to the first delicious steak. Possibly give yourself less time for simpler DIY projects, and up to three or four months for more complex plans.

Permit: You will likely need a permit for this type of work, since most grills need a gas supply. There are still plenty of units that can be set up to use tanks, but the convenience of a fixed gas line usually wins out.

Best time to get started: Midwinter is probably best. You will want to begin construction once the weather starts to warm and complete it before summer.

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