kitchen remodel tips #1: ordering cabinets

Hey lady, I have a friend who is looking at getting new kitchen cabinets, do you have any thoughts or suggestions? I know you've been doing this for a while and have probably seen a ton of good things as well as a ton of mistakes.

I have been asked this question a few times, so let me begin with my basic spiel that I give customers as they begin to dream about a kitchen remodel:

Where the display is on the floor, or wall, has little to do with quality or price. Price will be determined within the attributes (contruction and accessory options) for each cabinet. Each cabinet maker has different styles and colors, so start with that. Often the same manufacturer is making cabinets for both big box stores in your area, with a different name.

Paint is more expensive than stain, and features like handmarking add to cost as well. Features like soft-close and dovetail should be standard on semi-custom and custom cabinets. Alterations like depth, glass inserts and decorator doors all add to the cost.

That said, I recommend desiging a kitchen with every bell & whistle your can dream of, you can always remove options, but then you don't regret forgoing a $500 feature that you really wanted. A designer should be giving you a line item breakdown of the kitchen cabinets and features.

In my big box one of the best values is the name branded product. It is made by one of the custom cainet makers, but limited in styles to reduce production cost, which then saves the consumer. Paint, for example, is standard and not an upcharge (paint can be $1,500 - $5,000 of the cost in a custom kitchen). Accessories might be limited, but all of the most asked for options are available, like waste basket pull outs and pull out trays. Keep in mind these accessories are also available in the Home Organization section of any big box, or on Amazon. 

I do recommend using the big box installer for several reasons. If the product (cabinets) becomes an installed product there is no tax, the big box covers it. Look at that % as going towards your installation cost. Second, you have the labor warranty and the big box has an installation support team for you to work with, especially if you are coordinating other projects like flooring and countertops. And most importantly, these guys know the product and will verify the measurements and cabinet layout before you order, looking for construction alterations and other labor costs up front. I am fortunate to have an excellent intaller. 

At this time cabinet orders are taking 15-22 weeks from order to delivery. This is driven by current supply chain restraints, as well as labor shortages. Plan for the timeline and be prepared to function around construction and material delays.

Countertops may not be available for another 4-9 weeks after the cabinets are installed. The freeze in Texas affected the Dupont resin plant and materials like solid surface and quartz contain resins. These backorders are often by color. At this time I am not recommending customers purchase countertops at the same time as cabinets because of the long lead time. Supply restrainsts on granite seem to be relaxed, the supply restraints were originally certain colors based on where they were imported from, and specific country shutdowns.

Once you have an installation date for the cabinets, order the countertops. The countertops cannot be templated until after the cabinets are installed. Ask to have the color availability confirmed if the timeline is more important than a special color.

If you are replacing flooring you will want to select the color with the cabinets and countertops. I recommend getting samples of all colors and taking them home in your lighting. In many cases the flooring will go in first, consult with your flooring expert for your specific material. In general, hard surface flooring will go in under the cabinets, but floating flooring will go in after the cabinets. 

A few tips on functioning during a kitchen remodel:
 Set up a functional kitchenette on a bakers rack, or other space, and think about how you will handle dishwashing while the sink is out. Some tough it out in the bathtub, but you may be able to set up dishwwashing in the laundry room, for example. 

Know your budget. Ask about promotions and special financing. My big box runs a tiered promotion that takes up to 30% off cabinets. Using the store card will save the consumer another 5%, or they can choose 6 months no interest, or special financing for 84 months at 7.99% (which is pretty standard for construction projects). 

I am sure I forgot something, so add your questions in the comments and I will address them there. I will cover design considerations in a second post. 


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