Australians are an outdoorsy bunch and there’s nothing we love more than cooking – and dining – alfresco. It’s a passion which, over the past decade or so, has led to the rise of the outdoor kitchen as a ‘must-have’ inclusion in both new and renovated homes.
At its most basic, an outdoor ‘kitchen’ comprises a barbeque built into a benchtop with some integrated storage space. More commonly though, these outdoor entertaining hubs include a sink and tap, a fridge or wine cooler and a dishwasher; as well as a variety of cooking gadgets such as a barbeque, coal or gas grills, Teppanyaki plates, wok burners or even a pizza oven.
A well-designed outdoor kitchen will improve the general amenity of a home and transform the entertaining experience. It brings the convenience and ease of indoor cooking to the great outdoors – food is prepped, cooked and eaten all in one beautiful alfresco area.
While the trend originated at the luxury end of the housing market, outdoor kitchens are now routinely incorporated into mid-level project homes around the country. The most common iteration is for the outdoor kitchen space to function as a seamless extension of the internal kitchen, extending onto an adjoining deck or patio. In these instances, homeowners will often seek continuity and consistency in the design and finish of both kitchen spaces.
Because outdoor kitchens are still a relatively new concept, the industry has struggled to keep up in terms of design standards, safety, installation techniques, and material compliance. Finishes and fixtures that are used for indoor kitchens, for example, are not necessarily going to be durable enough for outdoor applications, or may even be unsuitable (for instance flooring that becomes slippery in the rain). And one of the biggest issues being reported by industry is the failure of products in outdoor kitchens due to incorrect placement (one example is refrigerators which shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight).
In response to the lack of industry guidance, HIA has created a set of industry reference checklists covering key elements of the design and construction of outdoor kitchens.
These comprehensive checklists highlight common pitfalls and potential issues that often arise in the wear and performance of outdoor kitchens – issues that are easily avoided if addressed at the planning stage – to help members maximise the functionality and ongoing durability of these spaces.