Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Comment on the Kitchen Cabinet Ordering Process

Susan Serra, over at The Kitchen Designer, has a post on the kitchen cabinet ordering process that is worthy of review and further comment here:

Ordering cabinetry is part of the service provided by all kitchen designers who represent manufactured cabinetry lines and maintain showrooms.

As Susan details, it is a lengthy and time-consuming process to get from designed lines on a piece of paper to a finished kitchen with cabinets installed correctly, as the clients expect and the designer planned them to be.

There are myriad opportunities for mistakes or oversights to creep in.
Once the cabinet floorplan, elevations and order have been prepared, every eensy little change requires changes on the plan, elevations, specifications, and order as well.

Very few clients understand the ramifications of changes and how they effect a designer's work flow and time.

As an example:
A few years ago a client was talked into changing the carefully specified custom hood I had detailed for their kitchen. A salesperson at the appliance store told the client that she could save $2000 by ordering the $5000 custom hood a little differently. The change was not substantial, and the savings was; so the client assented to the change and saved her $2000.

Problem was, the customization of the hood that I had specified allowed the mouldings she wanted to work around it and the cabinet door on the right hand side of the hood to fully open without striking the hood.

As is my custom, I had also written a caveat on the drawings that ANY changes in appliance specifications were to be discussed with the designer.

Some months later, during installation, the problem became apparent when the contractor tried to install the hood and it would not fit. Needless to say, the contractor was upset.

The upshot? The appliance salesperson denied fault and the appliance store refused responsibility. The client ordered the $5000 hood I had originally specified and ATE the $3000 hood she had on site. The project was delayed for six weeks waiting for the custom hood to arrive.

This snafu also says something about saving money dealing with such things yourself rather than dealing with a full-service kitchen dealer that installs as well. But that's another story.

I no longer sell cabinets, instead preferring to provide design services only.
But I usually write the cabinet order myself. The cabinet dealer discounts the cabinets to compensate and more than pays for my time (It's a continuity of design issue). I also prepare all drawings and details to be submitted to the cabinet company with the order. Included on my plan set drawings is also a complete list of selected appliances and their specifications. Same goes for drawings of custom appliances like the aforementioned hood.

I ask the dealer who provides the cabinets to fax me the acknowledgement from the cabinet manufacturer (I do not charge for this service to make sure it gets done).
Then we BOTH go over it with a fine-toothed comb.

By checking and double-checking we almost never encounter mis-made cabinets due to errors in ordering or interpretation (I learned long ago to NEVER say never).
It is painstaking work like this that goes most of the way toward ensuring a trouble-free cabinet installation, and a finished kitchen on schedule and on budget.

As Susan has detailed, every conscientious designer goes through a similar process, of painstaking checking and double-checking, behind the scenes, between the time your cabinets are ordered and delivered.

Consumers can do their part by making their decisions and sticking with them after completion of the cabinet ordering process.

We designers try to make the whole process as easy on our clients as possible; by getting answers to decisions in a logical progression (decision builds on decision), and by taking care of the nuts and bolts behind the scenes.

It's the unglamorous part of what we do.

CAVEAT: Not all designers check acknowledgements from cabinet manufacturers. Only those who are afforded the time to do so by their employers do so. Many stores which provide cabinets skip this step and put the responsibility on the consumer instead.
If you want to ensure that you are dealing with a company or designer who does double check your cabinet order, ask to see the FIRST RECEIVED acknowledgement from the last order they delivered. If it is not covered with annotations and attached to subsequent copies with corrections, it has not been checked.