Building a Two-Story Outdoor Kitchen on a Shoestring

Money is tight in today’s economy. An outdoor cooking area is a nice way to save cash, but could be costly unless you find some helpful resources. My outdoor kitchen is about 800 sq ft, two stories, well underway and at the present, no cost for materials. How is this done? Thoughtfulness, time, caution, and a will to make it work.

This picture is taken from the second floor which is still under construction. Nothing here has been accomplished with the help of another person besides this seventy-four year old author. I will tell you how it was done and how much it cost, but first let me ask you to use your imagination and previous experiences as we go through this project. By the way, I can sit on the second floor with my wireless computer and write to my heart’s content.

To explain why:  I have had this idea for a long time and one day when a soy bean thrasher was being moved from one field to another, the driver clipped a telephone pole and broke it off. While the repair crew fixed the accident, I watched to see what they were going to do with the broken pole. When I saw the workmen begin to load it up on one of those long trailer rigs that you have seen going and coming with a long pole and a red flag on the end, I stepped in and asked them what they were going to do with it and they told me it was headed for the trash. I told them I could save them a lot of work by dragging it away to my property with my little scooter in this picture. They laughed at me and agreed that if I could get it off the right of way, I could have it. So, I did get into my scooter, but went home and got my Kabota tractor and yanked that pole out of the ditch and drug it home. The line crew was so impressed when I told them what I was going to do with their broken pole, that they brought me ten more poles. They said I was doing them a favor because they usually had a difficult time disposing of old poles.

Now, how much money do I have in materials up to this point. Nothing. Yes, I know, you can see a few other material things in this picture, we are coming to that. I keep an eye on construction and remodeling in my neighborhood for several reasons. For years I have cut dead trees and taken the wood to people who have little or no income and often, I can get a load of good clean scrap wood for their wood stoves. I live in a rural area on six acres of land. Often, when I am cutting trees that are downed by wind storms, I cut it up into useful boards for myself.  The floor came about as I was going around picking up a load of scrap wood for my neighbors and came across a very large house that had a work crew removing the wood decking around the house and replacing it with a non-wood plank called Hardy Plank. They were so happy to find someone to haul off their removal that they took care to get as many good boards as they could for me. You might ask why I didn’t cut this up into firewood for the people depending on me. That is because you can’t burn treated wood safely, so any wood that is chemically treated is not suitable for home burning. Great, I used it for the upper and lower floors to my outdoor kitchen. Now how much material money have I spent? It is still zero. The rails that you see and the protective wooden slats were all cut from fallen or dead trees which were still in very good condition.

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Published in: Home Improvement


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  1. Dr. M, You can do anything I believe! This is amazing how you have worked to build this kitchen. I think your next endeavor should be, to be on the CBS tv show “Survivor”! You could survive as good as the best of them.

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