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Ask An Expert: Essentials For Building A Home Bar

Kevin Dunn, aka Tiki Kev, combines his years of experience as a professional home building and remodeling contractor with his love for all things tiki and tropical by helping homeowners create their own little slices of tropical paradise – perfect for relaxing and entertaining guests. Here are Tiki Kev's tips to building your own bar, and a little slice of paradise.

Kevin Dunn aka Tiki Kev
Tiki Kev's Tiki Bars
3462 Limekiln Pike
Chalfont, PA 18914
(800) 792-8454

Founded on the key tenets of quality and craftsmanship, Tiki Kev's Tiki Bars designs a wide range of custom-made dream, vacation-like retreats for the home, with each tiki bar tailored to each customer's specific entertaining needs. The Tiki Kev's Tiki Bars team first designs and custom builds each tiki bar and hut in a Philadelphia-area workshop before traveling to homes throughout the country to personally install them. For those who prefer a DIY approach, Tiki Kev also offers a do-it-yourself series of ebooks and master plans. Tiki Kev's Tiki Bar creations have been featured on several national television shows, including "Extreme Home Makeover," "The Today Show" and "The Price is Right." Tiki Kev was nice enough to share his expertise with CBS Local and the following are his tips to designing your very own bar at home.

Fully Assess Wants & Needs

Before adding a bar to your home, you need to determine its size and scope to determine its location in the home. Ask yourself how much you entertain and how you plan to use the bar. Will it be a full-functioning bar and entertainment space or are you striving for a certain "look" in a specific room? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine where the bar will go in the home and a realistic budget for materials and construction can be drawn up. Theme is important too, says Tiki Kev, for reflecting your personality and for providing a virtual getaway, a place to kick back and temporarily escape from the hustle and bustle of life while relaxing and visiting with family and friends.

Consider Environmental and Logistical Factors

If your bar is indoors, climate does not play much of a factor in its design, says Tiki Kev, because you can control the environment. For exterior bars – poolside tiki huts or bar incorporated into the design of a deck or patio – climate is an important consideration. You always want to use materials that can withstand your local weather conditions, says Tiki Kev, adding that he builds his outdoor home bars to withstand the seasons where the home is located. If you are working with a contractor, ask that they take the weather into consideration when selecting materials and design. "I've been in construction for 30 years," Tiki Kev says, "and have seen too many contractors only too eager to build [you, the homeowner] what you [tell him] want and then take your money, rather than [sharing his] recommendations, information and knowledge [to help you decide the best way to handle] your project."

Do Your Research Before Hiring a Contractor

If you are handy, says Tiki Kev, you may be fine building a home bar yourself from plans and/or a kit, but always determine the scope of work to be done before beginning the project – consider all plumbing and electrical needs. Ask for help when you need it – make that before you need it, Tiki Kev advises, adding that it can be more costly in the long run to have a contractor redo or make repairs on a project you started on your own but couldn't finish. Carefully vet each contractor before hiring though, he adds. Research reviews of past work and ask to see photos of prior jobs. Visit a potential contractor's website and social media pages to see what others are saying about them.

Related: Top 10 Questions To Ask When Choosing A Contractor

Budget Realistically

There really is no standard cost to installing a home bar, says Tiki Kev, adding that a small, backyard tiki bar for occasional use could cost thousands less than one that will be used on a weekly basis for heavy entertaining. Ten people could order the same size bar, he explains, but because everyone's needs and tastes are different, costs can vary significantly. For example, accessories like refrigerated beer dispensers, refrigerators, sinks, ice bins, ice makers, beer coolers, cabinets, lighting, televisions, stereo systems, ceiling fans, drink rails, bar stools and décor all need to be factored in. Time is another cost consideration that should be based on the time of year and the complexity of the project.

Consider How Long You Will Own Your Home

For someone who is renting or planning on selling their home in the next year or so, design and location of a home bar are very important. Most interior bars are built in as permanent fixtures or additions to the home. When it comes to the exterior tiki bars, however, the story is a little different. Regardless of the size, according to Tiki Kev, about 95 percent of the outdoor tiki bars his company installs can be moved, if needed. It's not the easiest thing in the world to do, he warns, but it is certainly possible.

Related: Top Landscapers In Philadelphi


Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on
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