Hiring a Pro for an Outdoor Project

Know what questions to ask when choosing professionals for your outdoor kitchen project.


By: Amanda Lecky

Landscape architects, architects, kitchen designers and contractors have all been known to design and install outdoor kitchens. Which professional you choose should depend less on affiliation and more on experience.

Mark Allen, president of the National Outdoor Kitchen and Fireplace Association, offers these tips for hiring professionals.

  • Go with a company that's well-established in the outdoor kitchen business, with at least 25 kitchens under their belt.
  • Make sure you can visit several past projects so you can judge the workmanship and talk to the clients about how the project has held up.
  • If you live in a rural area without an outdoor kitchen company nearby, arrange for a long-distance consultation between your contractor and an experienced outdoor kitchen installer.
  • It may seem like a simple project, but you're dealing with electric and gas. If the connections aren't precise, and if the cabinets aren't vented correctly, you can end up with a very dangerous situation.

As you interview designers and installers, be sure to give each the same information, so their bids will be coincide. Check references carefully, and call your local Better Business Bureau to check the professional's complaint history.

One or two grievances aren't any cause for concern particularly if they've been in business a long time, but more than that should be a red flag. It's also a good idea to ask about the contractor's insurance. If he's not properly insured, you could be liable for injuries on the job, or damage to neighbors or municipal property. Finally, don't move forward on any project without a detailed contract.

The contract should include the following basic items:

  • Contractor's name, address and license number
  • Begin and end dates for the projects
  • Names of all subcontractors
  • Terms of the agreement, including how changes will be handled and disputes resolved
  • Description of the work to be done and what isn't included, like trash removal
  • Materials and equipment involved
  • Demolition and clean-up provisions
  • Payment schedule

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