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12 steps to the perfect built-in braai

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It's not Mac's ideal way of braaing, but for those who prefer a built-in one, here are requirements and pointers to construct it.

I am not a fan of built-in braais, mainly because you can’t get to the other side. You always have to work over the meat at the front, plus you battle to get six guys and their beers around the fire.
If it is not under a roof you have a problem when it rains, but these are personal preferences and many people love built-in braais.
A while ago I received a question about how to build one. Here you go:
1 If you are building close or on to the house you need to ensure the top of the flue is higher than the surrounding roofs otherwise the fire won’t draw properly.
2 Check your choice of braai has a spark inhibitor built in, especially if you are close to thatch, and don’t forget you need a light inside the fire pit.
3 If you have a large roof overhang you don’t want any roofing timbers close to the flue.
4 I have checked the regulations and although they are a bit vague, it would appear you don’t need approved plans, but you do need municipal approval.
5 Once you are good to go, try a cheap portable braai in the desired position to see how you are going to be affected by wind.
6 Before building the braai, test it by placing it on a pile of bricks, with the flue in position to check it is drawing.
Get that meat cooking in your new built-in braai. Picture: Amanda Kerr
7 There are hundreds of braais built against houses where the house wall is used as the back wall, but I feel you should keep them separated, especially if your house wall is a cavity one. However, you don’t want the gap to be too big as it will become a dirt trap.
8 If it is to be freestanding, I recommend all the walls, including those surrounding the box, be 220mm or double brick.
9 Ensure every fourth course is a header course and you use brickforce every fourth course.
10 Make sure your builder has a properly dimensioned sketch of what you want to ensure you don’t get what he thinks is nice. Remember you need a solid foundation.
11 For insulation for heat transfer, ensure all of the fire box is surrounded by fire/insulation material, including the parts of the flue that are built in.
12 Use fire bricks adjacent to all metal surfaces. I have also had more success with braais built of face brick.
Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:
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