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Old 11-17-2012, 01:13 PM
 
93 posts, read 318,522 times
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My wife and I are are in the very early planning stages of doing a complete kitchen remodel on our 13 year old home. We are ready to talk to remodelers and kitchen design centers with the idea of selecting the company for this project. It seems there at least two different approaches:
Select a kitchen remodel firm who will manage and complete the entire project, or select a kitchen design center. What are the pros and cons of each of these? It seems to me from our initial conversations that we might get better design services from the kitchen design center as they have designers on staff. They have a short list of "approved contractors" who they utilize for the construction work.
On the other hand working directly with the remodeler may lower the total cost with less emphasis on design services.
What are the pros and cons of both?
Thanks.
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:02 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
32,184 posts, read 74,537,867 times
Reputation: 39518
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatSea View Post
My wife and I are are in the very early planning stages of doing a complete kitchen remodel
We are ready to talk to remodelers and kitchen design centers with the idea of selecting the
company for this project. It seems there at least two different approaches:

What are the pros and cons of both?
How involved/complicated and/or trendsetting do you desire your new kitchen to be?
Will any structural work (eliminate LB walls, etc) be required?

If the plan is for an uncomplicated and plain vanilla end product...
then you'll probably be just fine working with an experienced remodeling contractor.

Otherwise, complete the floorplan and *ALL* design work first including a full set of approved
plans (with any engineering) and detailed specs prepared that you have contractors bid on.

hth
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,439 posts, read 47,537,852 times
Reputation: 10540
Please listen to me on this. This is all I have done for many decades. I know the good and bad of the kitchen business. Without prequalifying myself I'll just continue on.

If you hire a Remodeler you will get a good finished product if you are lucky enough to find a well qualified one. That is the challenge though. Make sure they are a member of NARI or NAHB. Except nothing short of that. A Remodeler will take the job from idea to turn key and your worry will be nothing but what color and style of the various products. The biggest negative is even the best Remodelers do not have Kitchen Designers on staff nor will they hire out. They usually have a guy on staff that knows enough to draw it up themselves. They will most always give you a cabinet brand from someplace they have a working relationship with. And it may not be the best.

I'm going to stop there because hiring a Remodeler to be your GC is not my preference nor is it your best choice.

Go to a Kitchen Design center. And that said, I DO NOT MEAN the big orange who only wants your little green. This goes for the big blue too. THEY DO NOT employ Kitchen Designers. They are a member of NKBA which only gives them the right to put the NKBA sticker on the front door of the store. If anyone wants to design your kitchen and is not CKD then wave goodbye. An AKBD is ok. A CMKBD would cost you a fortune because there are only 18 people on earth who have qualified for this very very prestigious certification. Even yours truly have not made it yet and I been at it for over 3 decades.

A kitchen design center has a staff of Kitchen Designers as well as sub contractors or sometimes employees at their disposal who do nothing but kitchens and baths. You see how already you are better off with a kitchen design center?

Here are a couple of tips. I'm trying to shorten this.
Your best Kitchen Designers are ex Cabinet Installers. Please see the difference between Cabinet Sales people and Certified Kitchen Designers who have spent a very large amount of money to be educated to back up their experience.
DO NOT EVER EVER let an Architect design your kitchen. They all want to. Architects design buildings, not kitchens.

Lets back up.
1. Be prepared to tell your Designer what your budget is. There is no sense in showing expensive cherry doors when you have an oak or maple budget.
2. Have pictures of kitchens you saw something in it that you like.
3. Be prepared to change your mind because you will be introduced to things you never knew existed.
4. Be prepared to change your tastes. Designers come into your project with a fresh viewpoint and (hopefully) a lot of knowledge with ideas you may not have heard of.
5. Put function first, then looks. Your kitchen can be drop dead gorgeous but if you have to trip over the island to get to the oven then what good is it.
6. Expect to get 3D drawings looking at your new kitchen from several angles.
7. Finally expect to get a firm price based on the drawing. Keep in mind any change will change the price. And many times the design is changed several times before it's to your liking.

*Do not expect anyone to give you a price either by phone or just by walking in your door and looking.

*Do not accept a price per lineal foot from anyone. It is not even close to being accurate.

*Most designers are not contractors, but their job includes guiding you through the process right to the end - and holding your hand when you need it.


*Do your homework. Window-shop for cabinets, appliances, countertops, floors - everything that's going into the room. Do your window shopping during weekdays, when show rooms are the quietest. This includes visiting your local kitchen showroom.

Lastly without rewriting another book, DO NOT EVER EVER EVER let anyone talk you into putting those despicable Chinese cabinets in your home. Yes I know you can do a whole all cherry wood kitchen for $795 but you will get very sick from the extremely excessive levels of formaldehyde, lead and sulfur. There are documented deaths from Chinese Cabinet exposure. Don't do it. I have a whole chapter alone on why these are deadly garbage.

If you need advice on brands you can search my other posts or ask away.

Good luck
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
30,129 posts, read 21,100,894 times
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We've used contractors twice for kitchen remodels. The first time DH did a lot of work himself, and we got good oak cabinets for a good price in a new kitchen because of the sweat equity put into the project. When we did this again about 12 years ago, we had a kitchen remodeler do it all. This place was established in our community, and had a good track record. I asked for specific things which their designer provided. This company did everything, and basically did it well. The second remodel was of course the most expensive.

If both companies have excellent references, and good records with the local BBB, then I'd choose the company which seems to give you best value combined with what you want.

Good luck!
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:32 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
9,108 posts, read 15,724,157 times
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I completely remodeled the kitchen at my old house (which is now a rental) about three and a half years ago (and boy, when I moved to my current house, did I wish I could have brought that kitchen with me!!). I worked out the design myself using Kraftmaid's specs books (you could get them as .pdf files from their web site, and they were very detailed). I love to cook, and the old kitchen just wasn't functional -- it was about 25 years old (original to the house) and the cabinets had NO storage "helpers," e.g. pull-out racks, etc. I knew I could have added some of those, but some (like corner units) were outrageously expensive ($500+ just for the hardware), and I really wanted a beautiful, very functional kitchen with a bar area, so I planned it all out.

Once I had the design, I took it to my local Home Depot plus some smaller kitchen dealers. HD's kitchen designer was actually very helpful, although I have heard from others that many aren't. Mine tweaked my design (e.g., there were a couple of places where I needed a 3" clearance, but I had not seen that from the specs), printed rendered 3d drawings, and priced it all out. The kitchen was 13'x13.5' with no doors or anything to account for -- my old house had an "open concept" design with a huge l-shaped living/dining combo and the kitchen open to the dining area. I was able to design a U-shape with a peninsula (imagine a u plus a 5'x3' peninsula -- that had an overhang of about 10" for barstools). It gave me a TON of very functional storage plus loads of counter space plus a very nice bar area where friends could hang out while I was cooking. I liked the design so much that when I remodel my current kitchen, I am going to try to go as much as possible with the same design.

Anyway, I got several full price estimates off the design, and HD was by far the cheapest. I know that isn't always the case, but their percentage off list was higher than anyone else's I called (I called probably 2-3 additional stores just asking what percentage they took off Kraftmaid's list prices -- much to my surprise, ALL of them gave me that info when asked). HD also had several specials running at the same time (e.g., a certain percentage off at the end for buying a certain dollars' worth of cabinets). I ended up being able to get granite countertops as well -- IIRC the price for granite was only maybe $1,000 (total) more than the price for laminate, so I went for it, and it looked absolutely gorgeous.

Note, I did not and would not go with HD for installation. A colleague of mine teaches residential construction and does construction-type work on the side, and he gave me an AMAZING price for him and his son-in-law, so my installation charges were many, many thousands of dollars less than HD would have charged for doing less.

I am curious, do you already have a design kind of worked out and just need it tweaked? Or are you starting from scratch?
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:57 PM
 
93 posts, read 318,522 times
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Thanks for all the responses . They are very helpful. We are planning a complete remodel of the kitchen with new floors, cabinets, countertops, backsplash, lighting and appliances (I may have forgotten something!!) My wife has waited a long time for her dream kitchen. Trendy? I don't think so. We both are very practical people, so function is more important than the latest trendy style. I am a woodworker (no not a cabinet builder), so I think we wil end up with beutiful, cherry wood cabinets. Neither of us like the trendy painted cabinets. We like the beauty of natural wood grain. This is a project starting with a clean sheet of paper.
We would like to be able to open up the kitchen to the family room which means removing part of a non-load bearing wall. It's doable but we may have to sacrifice more cabinet space than we would like.
From what I've read we could probably save money by going with biig orange or big blue, but we've decided to not do that, but rather go with a local remodeler or go through a kitchen design center.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:04 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,439 posts, read 47,537,852 times
Reputation: 10540
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatSea View Post
Thanks for all the responses . They are very helpful. We are planning a complete remodel of the kitchen with new floors, cabinets, countertops, backsplash, lighting and appliances (I may have forgotten something!!) My wife has waited a long time for her dream kitchen. Trendy? I don't think so. We both are very practical people, so function is more important than the latest trendy style. I am a woodworker (no not a cabinet builder), so I think we wil end up with beutiful, cherry wood cabinets. Neither of us like the trendy painted cabinets. We like the beauty of natural wood grain. This is a project starting with a clean sheet of paper.
We would like to be able to open up the kitchen to the family room which means removing part of a non-load bearing wall. It's doable but we may have to sacrifice more cabinet space than we would like.
From what I've read we could probably save money by going with biig orange or big blue, but we've decided to not do that, but rather go with a local remodeler or go through a kitchen design center.
Sounds like you are on your way to success. You have good taste in cherry wood, just know that beautiful warm look of cherry wood is the most costly. Painted cabinets are not trendy though as you said. Who told you that? Oh yea probably those stupid kitchen magazines at the check out counter which are nothing more then impulse items. These magazines show staged kitchens for photos. Most all show white kitchens probably cause they take the best pictures yet only 2% of all North American cabinet sales are white. See any inconsistencies there? Kinda like a TV sitcom that is just not true but for entertainment purposes.

No you will not save money with the big orange or big blue. Who told you that? They charge full list price, MSRP or full retail. Call it what you wish but no intelligent shopper pays retail. Sorta like buying the exact same item in Macy's who is a retailer and charges list price or Target which discounts to some degree. Most small cabinet stores discount about 50% from list price.

Good luck to ya..........
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:16 PM
 
Location: Houston
248 posts, read 813,305 times
Reputation: 210
[quote][No you will not save money with the big orange or big blue. Who told you that? They charge full list price, MSRP or full retail. Call it what you wish but no intelligent shopper pays retail. Sorta like buying the exact same item in Macy's who is a retailer and charges list price or Target which discounts to some degree. Most small cabinet stores discount about 50% from list price. /QUOTE]

Desert no they don't. This is just BS. I have been handed several Home Depot estimates last week and none were at list.

I know I'm an owner of a cabinet business and I know you are not.


PatSea,

Good luck with your project.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:17 AM
 
28,461 posts, read 79,290,739 times
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I would not waste too much debating who / where is the best retail outlet for the same brand of mass produced product(s) -- it is almost impossible to get a fully spec'd list of cabinets ready for multiple retailers to "bid on" and even if you tried to do that the end result would likely be some stuff that(as noted above...) would still need some tweaking to fit / work.

I have not had good results when using "the big orange box" -- when I tried to use them as a supplier for kitchen projects for my rental properties they screwed up orders which resulted in projects taking longer and costing me money. I have used custome cabinet builder for my own homes and been happy, but the total project cost is in another category compared to the rental house. I have had good results and good value from midsized specialty firms that employ skilled designers and are honest about how the total project cost works -- if you want to get their skills it is either priced at an hourly rate or a percentage of the project's total cost or baked into the overheard for the cost of items ordered through them. Each method has ups & downs depending on how you want to pay for things / how personally involved you can be.

I disagree that this like buying a car. I can head to "Smallville Chevrolet" and ask them for their best deal and take that price to "Rivercity Chevrolet" who will either match it, beat it, or tell me that "there ain't any profit on that sheet at all" but neither car dealer is really doing anything to "install" the car, won't have to rely on my skills of measurements / their own correctness of layout to "order the right" car, nor is there anything like talent / taste involved in putting together the right style / color / drawer pulls / trim pieces...

To get back to the OP's question about "how/ where to start" there is little doubt that you need a somewhat firm budget -- if you can afford tens / hundreds (yes hundreds...) of thousands of dollars then it makes sense to hire the most accomplished professsionals available as early in process as possible. There are folks in / around most major cities that will gladly run the whole shebang for you, guide you every step of the way and take a great big pile of dough from you for their efforts. If you have only a tiny bit of cash you can go to kind of place that sells stuff in flat boxes that you then kinda sort use pictograms to assemble into stuff that holds pots or whatnot on your own. In between there are a whole range of options from fancy showrooms with many life size kitchens all built out to dustier looking places that are more the front half of a shop / warehouse, and more than a few very good firms / individuals that mostly work out a space that is not so much a showroom as store or even a home office. The only reliable way to choose between these things is #1) Get recommendations from trusted neighbors, co-workers, relatives that have done business with someone #2) Talk to potential firm / indivual in person, at least once in your home or their primary place of business where you can discuss how they'll price their services, show you examples of their work & review ideas you have #3) Review a complete written proposal of what they'll do, how much it'll cost and how long the process will take before they ask for a cent.

There are still LOTS of good books in most libraries that all basically lay out the same general steps as well as PLENTY of magazines that showcase nice kitchens that can be a source of inspiration, products and firms. Unfortunately an awfully large number of people STILL get burned by crooks that do not know what they are doing, over charge without compunction, and give the whole process a bad rap. Very few folks get helped by Mike Holmes type heros, and too many people that end up having to hire their own "rescue crew" are too embarrassed to admit how they could have saved themselves a lot of greif (and money) had they gone down the right path to begin with...
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,439 posts, read 47,537,852 times
Reputation: 10540
[quote=MCS1;27009205]
Quote:
[No you will not save money with the big orange or big blue. Who told you that? They charge full list price, MSRP or full retail. Call it what you wish but no intelligent shopper pays retail. Sorta like buying the exact same item in Macy's who is a retailer and charges list price or Target which discounts to some degree. Most small cabinet stores discount about 50% from list price. /QUOTE]

Desert no they don't. This is just BS. I have been handed several Home Depot estimates last week and none were at list.

I know I'm an owner of a cabinet business and I know you are not.


PatSea,

Good luck with your project.
Oh why don't you shut up. Your wife owns it, not you. I heard about you. I been in this business before you were born young man. You follow me like a puppet and live to challenge my expertise. Where are your certifications? Uh huh? I thought so. How many books published? Yea I thought so. Were you ever chosen to be Chief Designer for the most prestigious Home-A-Thon in the nation? How many people write you each night on this forum asking for help because they are too shy to ask in the open forum? None right? How many Habitat homes have you built? How many Extreme Makeover homes on TV have you done my friend? Come on and help me and others out where you will be welcome rather then badmouthing others who know more then you and take the time to help others at the expense of their love for people.

And learn how to hit the quote button rather then copy and pasting all my fine text. Oh and I am the owner of a Cabinet biz, just not the one you remember me at. And a partner in another in Vegas.
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