What types components do people select for their outdoor kitchens & spaces?
Most of the time you’re going to have a gas grill or egg cooker, which is a now popular style for barbecue pits. Other items include a sink and refrigerator, with a TV. Usually they have a fire pit or a fire place, either gas or log. And then for seating, a couple of couches, plus a table & chairs. Most of the time these outdoor living areas are enjoyed in the evenings with family & friends!
Do most people have a covering or roof structure?
Most of the time, at least half of the Outdoor Kitchens section is covered. We’re building one that’s right now that’s designed for half of it as a sitting area with the TV and the other half is exposed. A granite counter top with a gas grill and a steaming cooker round that one out.
Do some people extend their house roof?
Yes they do. Whenever possible we’re going to aim to use these existing lines of the home. Most of the time we do them, we tie into the house, add on matching trim boards and painting to make it look like it was there originally, perfectly cohesive with the existing appearance. Some other structures are basically freestanding. They may be away from the house side, near the swimming pool or on another side of the court yard. We’ve completed every possible outdoor construction variation for Outdoor Kitchens.
When a outdoor living area is far from the house or detached, is it difficult to extend electricity, gas lines? Is that something your company does?
Extending these lines is not a problem to reach outdoor kitchens & outdoor living environments almost anywhere on your property . One significant caution, in many subdivisions, the back 10 feet off of the fence contains an easement for utilities. So we have to stay off of there, but we can build up to that point. We definitely avoid getting into the utilities and having to go in there and dig them up. If a home owner builds something in the way they have the right just to destroy it to get to their utility. Once our team is out there on your property, it’s pretty easy to figure out for all that is. .
How long do outdoor kitchens take to build?
The typical kitchen, full blown with complete features, would be fully finished in approximately four weeks (w/o any serious weather or permitting delays). A simpler kitchen can be knocked out in around two weeks! Most outdoor living projects usually really take about three weeks of construction time. Because there are different trades coming in, we’ve got a licensed plumber, licensed electrician etc. So the job may be opened up and waiting for a trade to come in and perform their portion. But they may be running a day or two behind on one of their other projects. So the coordination for these outdoor kitchens has to fall in line correctly and we work hard at this aspect for our clients!
Do you create water elements like fountains, other displays like that as a part of outdoor living?
Yes, we can. Usually the customer will buy the fountain or water element in order to pick exactly what they want and then we’ll install it for them. This install would include the plumbing, and with most of them a power plug for your fountains and then you fill it up full of water and it just recirculates that water.
How do you work with inspectors?
We pull the structure permit and the subs will pull off of our permit. But, an electrician has to be a licensed electrician to pull a permit. We carry the big insurance policy, so we are approved in most municipalities. As for our sub contractors, the plumber will call for his own inspection. City & county inspectors usually provide a 24 hour window of notification prior to their visit. They’ll come and inspect the project with the official check sheet. We The the inspector will pull it out, check off whatever inspections we’ve called for, and then we can call a 1-800 number to make sure that we pass. Once we have the approval, your outdoor kitchens project can proceed with whatever’s next on the timeline. Aspects frequently inspected, cement slabs, hurricane clips and ties, electrical elements, in ground plumbing etc. And of course at the end of your build will be the final inspection!
On a typical outdoor living project, how many inspection visits?
For a normal outdoor build, the inspection sequence is first your framing, then your slab and then the underground inspection for the plumbing and electrical efforts. If it’s a wood structure then it will have hurricane clips and ties. These basically keep everything in place it was to blow down or blow over in a tornado or tropical storm. These keeps the pieces tied together even in terrible Houston weather. That way everything just doesn’t fly in different directions. It keeps it all mangled up in one pile. This is basically what hurricane clips & ties are designed for. After the electrician’s done, they’ll come and check that all the fans and lights and switches and plugs are installed. And same thing with the plumbing. And then I’m usually the final inspection as the project manager. It’s done in the sign off.
What about permitting for people who live in Fort bend County? Are there areas that don’t require building permits?
We handle outdoor kitchens permitting for Fort Bend County, plus most city municipalities as required. The contractor has to be registered the city, which means they register and pay a fee per year. Plus they also have to have a copy of business insurance in their name and they’ll place it in their municipal system. It’s just the hassle of having to deal with one, getting your permit from the get go and then to waiting on inspectors. You may have a outdoor kitchens project ready to be closed in and with a forecast of rain coming. But you’re not able to close the area in due to waiting on an inspector. Sometimes we’ve nailed the roof on, following the inspector’s visit right before a storm!
What’s the average cost range of appliances?
Usually on a basic shell customers always supply their own gas grills and their liner. We align the gas grill so that nothing can catch on fire. The customers usually like to pick out their own gas grill, like the sinks, and we can give them options. Refrigerators, wine coolers, kegerators, they can truly pick out whatever they envision for their outdoor kitchens & living environment. Usually that’s all up front. The customer says, I’m going to buy this and that and y’all supply everything else. When they ask us to, we’ll give them some options. And then everything depends on what they pick, they can pick up a hundred dollar gas grill or $1,000 gas grill, and then either way it costs the same amount to install it. We build around it. So a basic shell, could be just the cover. A basic cover with minimum size would start probably about 10,000. We’re building one now that’s around 37,000 half covered, half open. It’s got about a big, 10 foot bar, featuring fully loaded TVs. It is tied to a vaulted ceiling with candlelights in it beams, cedar beams running across the columns including stonework halfway up. A setup with a super high end kitchen would cost $20,000 total. That would be with an included amount for appliance calls. We’ve done some outdoor living spaces with a pizza oven. Every customer usually has their own idea and we simply take their vision and go with all the way with it!
How many outdoor living projects would you estimate you’ve been a part of?
We usually do an average of a eight year and we’ve been doing it for for 15 years plus. That means Hathorn Repair has completed in the neighborhood of 150 or so. Yeah, I would estimate right around there. Some of them are compromised minimally of a patio cover with their own freestanding gas grill and a covered sitting area. Of course many outdoor kitchens are much more grand is scale & scope!
Outdoor Living Style Consultations
We hang swings, from the wall to put beams in the framing so they can hang their own decorative swings. We can give them suggestions during a consult. Most customer come to us with a readymade idea or maybe pictures or something they’ve seen online or in a magazine for their design. We love visited with anyone interested!
How does the payment process work for a $20,000 project?
For repeat customers, sometimes we don’t even ask anything until the end. For a bigger project, we direct the customer’s money to purchase what we need them to purchase. Of most common model is either three payments, four payments or two payments. We write up a totally separate sheet with that type of repair. And every time the customer pays, we update it and give them a copy of the receipt. That way everybody knows where the outdoor kitchen project budget progression stands. Most of the time in our projects, everything is in the original estimate. We do take credit card payment. We also have a couple financing places where we can just send them a link off of our phone. They can fill it out on their phone and get a little loan. Lower interest actually found a new place to recommend recently. So there’s still that option too.
What happens when a project exceeds the estimate from the contractor side?
It is rare to have a significant project completion extension on an outdoor kitchen project. Demolition aspects can be affected by storm and weather. Usually a project is lengthened by additional elements that the home owners specify. It is hard to know the fullness of what you would like in a construction project before the dirt is broken, So when you add an element, we advise what that cost is and potential addition to the timeline. Then we have a separate sheet with the extras on it, for example, extra lights or decorative beams to the environment. They may want to add gutters at the end. Sometimes we’ll build a shell, including the connections for gas and electric and water, then the customer will order in their own prefab unit from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Outdoor kitchens, they’ll just set it right on there and then we’ll come back and plumb everything in. We’ve the outdoor living projects in every different kind of format.
What would you say makes Hathorn Repair distinct from other builders?
We’re all in house! All of my crew’s been together for 10 to 15 years. Our plumber, our electrician are vital and if they are tied up you know, we let them know we need them. Everybody knows ahead of time when the projects are startling and when we’re gonna need them. So most construction projects pretty well. We don’t just call anybody off the street and have them come in. It’s just not comfortable for us as GC’s or for our customers. Most have each other’s number in their phone and if the electrician needs to move something out of the plumber’s way, he can call them directly and get ’em over there. Often that afternoon, maybe first thing the next morning, to keep the ball rolling. That way, somebody is not blaming somebody else for this and blaming somebody for that. It’s just a lot easier when everybody is working together and they’re friends as well!
What is Hathorn Repair’s service area range?
Most of our job locations are 20 to 30 minutes, or 20 to 30 miles from our home site. We focus mostly on Fort bend County on we do a lot in Katy. We do a lot in Simonton & Ward. Victoria actually is about the southern limit. We’ll go to North Houston in that direction. We’ve have done a bunch of medical facility on the coast in the Freeport area. Usually when I get called beyond our range, we’ll ask the customer to see if they can find anybody a little bit closer, if they have any questions on their bid after they get into call me.
Does your company construct decks & seal them?
Yeah, we do a lot of custom decks and shade arbors, with multilayer layered decks. We don’t usually build square boxes. If we construct a square box, we’ll make them kind of a pattern out of the deck boards. Some kind of pattern where we don’t have wasted material. We do them in different ways and whatever part of the port we cut off, we use it somewhere else on the project. Also, we do a lot of circles, and different layers. The stairs, we always put a back up to the stairs, so you don’t look through it. A lot of times we’ll use the leftover cut up material. We use it for a skirting and use that to decorate the skirting and the design handrails.
Do many of the custom decks have patio covers?
For simple patio covers, shade arbors are good. We’re doing one now we’re putting a decorative irregular shade Arbor, but we’re putting it with plastic roof on top. Just to help a little bit with the sun. Mostly rain you know, on a light little rain or something. It’s great on a heavy, it’d be crazy rain. Many these patio covers function as another little sitting area. Some of them we do them away from the outdoor living area. That way if somebody can go over there, sit and talk in a private area or just get away from everybody. We also do a lot of a lot of staining. We’ve done Painting designs on concrete for reference. If there is a design already in place, then we may have to clean it with acid. Same thing with the garage floors, we perform a lot of garage floor coatings. Our team goes in there and cleans it and then primes it and then usually puts a two part epoxy with multiple colors to choose from. On one our technician sprinkled in the different colored chips. And then he put a clear sealer on top, requiring the customer to stay off the surface for a couple of days. Everything’s done in compliance with manufacturer instructions. That way we don’t ever have any problems. If we need to go back after the manufacturer for faulty material we have what we need.
How do people use an outdoor living environment?
It’s all about the individual enjoyment of the customer. They get home from work and they may change clothes, shoes, grab a beverage or a glass of wine and head out to their on-property happy place! They may choose in a book or gran the TV remote once outside and soak in some fresh air & sunshine (Lord willing). Many people cook outside to keep the mess outside and away from their inside living area. It’s just a different setting. And allows you to spread out the mess of daily American house keeping!
Tell us about your own outdoor kitchens environment?
We have a wonderful area near our pool (50 feet from the main house) with a TV and a couch lounge section. We watched the 2020 super bowl last weekend. I had friends over and having quality refrigerators that keeps good temps and waters, plus a regular oven a gas top. I have an oversize kitchen sink installed so we can wash big pots and pans or fish fryers. We may use or product box have a countertop that has a room. We have company that come over and they have their stuff in a crockpot. For the company that comes have a little bitty eight gallon hot water heater that goes underneath the the countertop. That way we did not have to re-plumb anything from the house for hot water, which saved money. Eight gallons of hot water capacity is plenty to wash any dishes or hands etc. Then the floor is a delightful stained concrete. It’s got a straight cover completely separate from the main home. We use our outdoor kitchens also to cook pizzas outside for the kids when they get out of the pool. Instead of ordering pizza, we throw a couple in the oven and let them cook and save a bunch of money.
How long did your construction processes take?
We built ours in about a week.
Are there particular brands of appliances or televisions that you’ve had good experience with?
Yes, there are several of them. We have a book that we can give the customer some referrals on high performing electronics and appliances. Some of them actually have a lifetime warranty. There just so many options. Some of them have rotisseries, most outdoor kitchens are gas, very few of them are all electric. Except for your outlets. Whether it’s propane and / or natural gas much comes with your built in gas grills. The hose they come with is actually ready to go on a propane bottle. So some of them we set a propane bottle underneath the cabinet that’s supporting the grill and plug it in and it’s easy for the customer run down to the store down and swap out their tank whenever they run out of gas. On newer model home builds, the back patio actually already may have spigots ready to tie in gas and water. So there’ll be there sticking out of the wall with a cap on them. We undo the cap, put our valve on and fleming to wherever the line needs to reach. 90% of your new homes and your subdivisions will have this helpful addition.
Anything else about outdoor living that we should know?
One important tip is that many in-ground cable boxes are wireless, so that’s one less cable we have to worry about. Most of them will have some kind of a hopper or a wireless system where the provider can just add another box. Usually it’s like another $10 a month to their existing program. So they can add another TV outside in their outdoor living. And it only cost them another $10 or so. A month. There you go. And a lot of them will actually come and install it for free. With qualification of you adding the device to your plan. So that’s another good service. We did one last week with direct TV and they came out when the customer called them, and put on for free and they programmed their remote, the third TV and got him completely set up. We didn’t have to do anything. So we had to deal with putting a plug out there for him and hung there. Most people like to pick their own TV and then we don’t have to charge for a cable line with this ground cable box approach for their outdoor kitchens.
What about scheduling these home improvements?
We usually balance, even during the busy season, with two to three weeks as a comfortable construction schedule. Sometimes we sell a job and can do it the following week, especially for small one day jobs. Bigger projects, such as flood jobs or full remodels, those may take two to three months to completely commence. And then in the, in the meantime we’re doing and working on other projects. Once we start your project, we’ll stay on it until it is fully finished! The holiday season always slows down as far as our interior painting because customers have company in the house, which also impacts re-roofing, guttering or siding exteriors. Different times of the year have various challenges for outdoor kitchens. Spring, with heightened interest in the outdoors and tax-refund funded home improvements, is our busiest season!