Your man cave has the big screen HD TV. You have a killer home theater system. And, of course, you have a game console. The only thing missing in your man cave is a bar. You have plenty of decisions to make when you build your own bar with the most important being your budget. Let’s go over the options you have to make it something your friends will envy.

Things to Consider

Your choice of features can mean the difference between a simple addition to a complete remodel. That’s why some preliminary planning is essential. The cost of building a bar depends on several factors including:

  • Location
  • Space
  • Type
  • Functionality
  • Storage and Shelving
  • Style
  • DIY or Contracting It Out

Not all of them are mission critical, of course. If you’re on a limited budget, you may have to omit some. Think about what you want in a bar and go from there.


The average cost for a remodeling project is $4,550 with the kitchen being the most common room. You want the best return on your investment, so consider where it will get the most use. Your choice of a room should also come into play. An addition in the kitchen is an excellent choice if you want a wet bar since there is existing plumbing.

Think about what each room can bring to the table if you’re not sure where you want it. If you have a man cave already, you likely know exactly where it’s going to fit in the room.


Next, consider the available space when deciding to build a bar. You can still make it work in a small room by adding a bar in an unused corner. It doesn’t have to take up an entire wall. If you’re really limited, you might even think about installing just a back bar to store your bottles.

Make sure and take into consideration the height of the bar when deciding where you want to install it. The standard height for a bar counter is 42 inches. It’s a smart choice to stick with the most common sizes since it’ll be easier for you to find bar stools for it than if you went with a less popular one. The average bar counter runs about 20 inches with another 8 inches for the overhang. Then, there’s the room you’ll need behind it for the typical front or straight bar.


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The more bells and whistles you add will increase your total cost. Consider whether you want a wet bar. Basically, it means the addition of running water, a sink, and a drain. Sure, it’s convenient but at a price. That also means getting a professional involved if there isn’t existing plumbing.

You’ll also have to ensure proper drainage for safety and prevention of mold or bacteria. You may want to upgrade your flooring to for handling the occasional spill. You might consider using a rubber floor mat too. Otherwise, you can opt for a dry bar which is simply a serving counter with storage for beverages.

Other options you can consider include a beer tap or even a dishwasher for the ultimate in convenience. Don’t forget the maintenance that comes with having a bar as you’re doing all your planning. For example, a keg is a lot more work than just keeping a mini fridge with bottles.

Storage and Shelving

Storage and shelving are other important features you’ll want to consider because you’ll need a place to put everything. Remember wall shelves or a back bar will increase the real estate up front. You can save on space by installing them within the counter along with your wine cooler or refrigerator.


Along with functionality, give a thought to the look of the bar. You can build a bar that matches the existing style. You can even branch out and create something more eye-catching to make it more of a focal point. A bar is a place to relax and hang out with your buddies. Decorating the space helps foster that atmosphere to make it a comfortable place in your home.

Be sure to add in the costs of any extra features such as brass railing or counter materials. If you’re close to going over budget, this is a good area for trimming some of your expenses.

Even the home improvement project itself has its perks. About three-quarters of people who remodel find being in their homes more enjoyable. That’s a great way to sell it to your significant other.

DIY or Contracting It Out?

Whether you choose to tackle it yourself or job it out depends on its features, existing space, and your skill level. A simple front bar doesn’t require advanced woodworking skills or a lot of fancy equipment. That said, you’ll find it a lot easier if you use power tools instead of just a hammer and hand saw. At the minimum, you need the following:

  • Work Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Safety Glasses

If you don’t have a circular saw or sander, you can rent them. If the idea of how to build a bar sounds complicated, skip the hassle and hire a contractor instead. Another option is to buy a pre-made unit to get things running right away. While you’ll save time and effort, they are a spendy way to go without all the custom touches you could add to a DIY project.

Home Bar Examples

The obvious choice for where to install a bar is an underused room to increase its function and livability. It’ll also increase the value of your home, especially if it’s done tastefully. Besides, it’s a much better choice to drink at home rather than hitting the taverns in town. Let’s go over some ideas for creating your customized look.

Basement Bar

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When thinking about how to build a basement bar, consider what existing features you have such as electricity and plumbing. If you’re working from scratch, it’s going to be a bigger investment than just adding the bar. The average national cost for doing a complete remodel on a basement is $18,846.

Also, find out if you need to get a building permit. Getting one can set you back anywhere from $100 to $7,500 depending on local regulations and the type of work you’ll need to have done to complete the bar. Don’t forget this vital step. The fines for not having one will far exceed the cost of the permit alone.

The advantage of going this route is that you have the existing room. And if it’s unfinished, you have a blank canvas for creating the bar you’ve always wanted, keeping within your budget naturally. It can also give you the freedom to consider other options such as an L-shaped or wraparound bar.

Inspect the location that you want to place your bar before beginning any work. Make sure the walls are intact and that there aren’t any leaks or cracks in the foundation. If the basement has a musty odor, take care of the source of that problem first. No one is going to want to hang around in your basement bar if it stinks.

Tiki Bar

If you want the quintessential themed bar, consider adding the ultimate fun experience to your deck or patio. There are no set rules when it comes to how to build a tiki bar. One thing is for certain; you’ll feel a major sense of accomplishment from upgrading your existing outdoor living space. It’s an excellent option if you want to go the traditional route with the thatched roof and bamboo.

You should plan on a three-foot perimeter around the bar to give everyone plenty of space to move around and mingle. An outdoor bar requires some additional planning. While you don’t have to have a thatch roof, having a covered seating area is a smart idea during those hot summer days. It can offer a great way to get out of the sun.

You might want to add a ceiling fan to take comfort to the next level depending on how elaborate your bar design is. You’ll appreciate it behind the bar if you’re the one pulling everyone cold beers or mixing up that batch of mojitos. Unless you live in an area that is warm year round, you might think about a portable bar or one that you can disassemble easily to bring indoors during the winter.

Like the basement bar, you should find out if you need a builder’s permit especially if you’re starting from scratch. You can add a concrete patio for under $3,000 based on the national average. A deck can run north of $7,000 or more. We strongly urge you to contact your homeowners’ association before making any home improvements that can affect curb appeal.

The decision to build a bar is just the tip of the iceberg. It involves planning and creating a budget that won’t break the bank. Once you’ve completed your project, you’ll find your time and effort well spent. Just make sure to include the price for a nice bottle of bubbly to celebrate in your costs. Cheers to many happy days spent tending your home bar!

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