I don’t know how many times, I read articles about home owners going over their renovations and saying how much money they saved by buying their kitchen cabinets from a big box store versus a custom manufacturer. We always hear that side of the story without hearing the other side, obviously I represent the other side and let’s say for sake of this experiment that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
- The design, layout, color and style selection. In my experience homeowners are willing to spend $30 000, $50 000 or more in a renovation but won’t $2000 for a designer. I believe that the design is the most important part of the renovation and still some home owners will give that task to a college student doing a major in Philosophy and working part time in a big box store for minimum wage. Even Design firms will give the job of designing a kitchen to the kitchen designers who do that every day, they are trained professionals at designing kitchens.
- Custom cabinets are expensive! Today in 2012 most of the reputable Kitchen cabinets Manufacturers use CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machinery, this takes the extra cost out of custom, it is not more expensive to manufacture a custom cabinet then a standard cabinet. The big box stores overhead is crazy expensive, building those 100 000 sq ft showrooms is not cheap! And you are paying for that! Profit margins of the big box stores are over the top, most of these companies are public and need to show the big profit margins. At the end, the big box store is not the manufacturer and will buy their cabinets from a kitchen cabinet manufacturer who will make another profit margin, so why is it that home owners think they are paying less from the big boxes? Because big box stores are selling home owners ¼ of the product. A box, leaving out the design, the assembly, the hardware, the counter tops, the installation and the service. They also cut down on the quality of the materials and workmanship, at the end of the day they have to save somewhere.
- RTA (ready to assemble) cabinets work great. Home owners believe that they can do a great job at assembling their own cabinets, Allen keys, plastic dowels, NO glue and no tools or skills and it will look fine. Why is it that no manufacturer uses this method of manufacturing for their own clientele ? Why is it that manufacturers spend millions of dollars in state of the art technology to do the job a home owner can do for free? It is funny to see that when home owners compare, their time is always free, on the other hand some of us believe that time is the most valuable thing we have.
- Installation is easy! Yes it is true, it looks easy for the experience kitchen cabinet installer who is been doing it for the past 20 years. There is a saying in the kitchen cabinet industry that says “ A low end quality kitchen well installed will look better then a high end kitchen poorly installed”. This saying is 100% true! Good experienced installers work for good experienced kitchen manufacturers not for big box stores, that is just a fact.
My recommendation is, hire a good kitchen designer, the best one you can find, at the end of the day it will save you money and don’t be afraid to give them your budget. Kitchen cabinets manufacturers don’t only make $40 0000 kitchens, they also do $5 000 kitchens, without your direction they can misinterpret your budget. The designer has your best interest at stake; your recommendation is his most valuable asset.