What are the advantages to my services as a designer?+
Kitchen design is an expertise that even experienced architects and home builders routinely sub out. Think of it like a 100 piece puzzle with a supply of 5,000 pieces to choose from. Factor in NKBA’s* 31 rules of kitchen design and I’ve found that many people simply get overwhelmed. (*National Kitchen and Bath Association)
Although there are hundreds of “Kitchen Designers” that have learned to apply the rules, many don’t have the experience to address the subtleties of your lifestyle and desires. Even good designers, and custom cabinet makers, don’t take the time to listen to their clients preferences but instead build them a stock kitchen.
Kitchen design must be a collaborative effort between the client and the designer. You may be able to install the cabinetry yourself, (see the do-it-yourselfer faq), but at least get some advice on your design. Look up the Rules at NKBA.com and try to apply them to your project.
Go to 2020technologies.com, the makers of my commercial CAD software, to rough in your plans and get an overview of cabinets, appliances, countertops, etc. Take your own graph paper designs to the box store’s hourly designers to get their example of a “standard kitchen”. Once you’ve done your homework, bring it to us and we’ll take it to the next level.
To end up with a “kitchen that works” it is definitely to your benefit to utilize the experience of a professional designer.
Who coordinates the design and construction process?+
• In practical terms, I function as the coordinator for most projects. I design the kitchen, bath or office, supply the cabinets, provide installation plans and on-site consultations.
• I'll advise and provide referrals for countertops, appliances, flooring, plumbing and lighting. For the actual tear-out, rebuild and cabinet installation, I can refer you to one of my contractor associates or work with your contractor. Without exception, the builders and installers I've worked with are extremely pleased. They are impressed with the quality of my cabinetry and with the level of professional service, be it pre-construction, installation or follow-up.
Who builds the cabinets?+
•I am not a cabinet maker, but you could consider me the liaison to many excellent cabinet makers. On a daily basis I collaborate with the engineers and production staff who are the experts. My time is spent in design, not in fabrication.
• I've evaluated the quality, construction and customer service of many cabinet manufacturers over the past twenty years and have selected five excellent companies. They can provide anything from the most basic stock cabinets, to custom cabinetry for the most sophisticated projects.
How does a person find a good contractor?+
This can be a real dilemma! Even though the local Phone Book has four pages of Building Contractors listed, the Tahoe norm is that if you call ten, only five will call you back, two will show up and one will bid the job. It's even harder when you consider the good contractors stay busy solely on referrals and don't bother to advertise.
So what can you do? Contact your Tahoe friends and neighbors who've gone through this before and ask who they recommend.
Check with the local lumber yards, in contractor sales, and get a half-dozen names from them. Or call us and we'll provide a referral for someone who handles your type of job and has an opening in their schedule.
The requirements for the contractors I work with are;
- Their infrastructure and finish work is excellent.
- They call people back and show up when they say.
- I'd trust them with my kids and credit cards.
How do you compare to the big home stores? +
"Been there, done that, now what…"
I hate to admit that I can be competitive with the "Big Boys", but if price is your only consideration, please stick with them. Yes, they are good at having thousands of products for instant purchase, but when it comes to the complicated, service oriented aspects of construction, they’re too big to care. Would you at $9.00 an hour?
Check with any contractor. Once the sale is made, it is difficult to get the “Warehouse” to help with installation problems, replacement of damaged or defective cabinetry and on-site consultation is unheard of.
Anecdotally, with a new neighbor of ours it took three months to get most of their cabinets delivered, another two months to finally get the right ones in, weeks to locate an associated contractor to show up, then a few more weeks to fix the mistakes made during installation.
I'd be glad to review your "Box Store" design, but don't be surprised if simply fixing their mistakes adds from $500 to $1,000 to the bid. I can match the cabinetry apples to apples, but if the bushel is short, it’ll cost more to fill it up. Us "Small Guys" work under the cloud of these giant multi-nationals but we will always win on customer service.
How does your cabinetry compare to shop-made cabinets?+
There are many excellent custom cabinets makers in the Tahoe region that are my professional associates and friends so I am reluctant to criticize them.
Taking the cabinet construction view, I'm totally confident that my "modular" cabinetry is easily as good, if not better, than the "custom" ones. The typical shop cabinet uses an MDF (particle board) box verses the more solid plywood my cabinets are built from. My drawers are typically of solid wood dovetail construction with custom shops often using a multi-laminate plywood edge-nailed together. It’s in the finish where the big difference is.
The smaller custom shops end with a great looking lacquer or polyurethane, but unfortunately it doesn’t always stand the test of time. The catalyzed conversion varnish used in my finishing departments, allow at least a 10 year, if not a lifetime warranty. The sophisticated, multi-step glazes and accents available from these modern facilities simply can’t be duplicated in a local shop. Taking the designer's view, I feel I am simply a better designer than the cabinet shop guys.
It still amazing me that clients with be spending tens of thousands of dollars and receive either no advanced plans, or plans of poor design. Over the past 20 years, I've trained with numerous NKBA* and professional design classes. A decade on the 20-20 CAD software allows client visualization and modifications well before any cabinetry is built. Experience with the design and construction of hundreds of residential and commercial projects has given me a depth and breadth of what beautiful interiors can be created. Finally, as a working mother, with a busy family and two cook household, I appreciate the value of a “kitchen that works”!
(*National Kitchen and Bath Association)
How much could a total remodeling project cost? +
Well, that’s a big question. Are you adding square footage, does tearing out walls require re-engineering, are you raising the roof and adding a second story? It used to be building costs were around $100 per square foot, but nowadays you’re doing good if you can make $200/ft. Many of our nice new Tahoe homes, with their granite, log and rockwork range from $400 to $600/ft. Whether new construction or remodel, be forewarned that budgeted money often runs tight by the time finish materials and cabinetry is ordered. This is really tough when your big beautiful project may have to settle for a mediocre finish. Many old timers recommend you figure out your budget then add one third.
Remodels are affected by the amount of tear down; the design, engineering and addition of rooms; movement of walls, plumbing and electrical, etc. Many contractors won’t provide a bid price for remodels because they can’t predict what they’ll find when they open up the walls. They’ll only take the job on a time and materials basis. But as a contractor friend says, "Anything can be done, it's only a matter of time and money!"
How much will my kitchen cost? +
My average kitchen project ranges in price from $10,000 to $20,000. I've designed small projects as low as $2,000 as well as lake fronts for more than $100,000.
The price of kitchens, baths or offices vary according to;
- the number of cabinets required for the size of the room,
- construction quality of the cabinetry itself (drawer guides & box, case materials, etc), and
- the specie of wood, the type of finish and the door style.
Of course the number of bells and whistles you desire will also affect the price.
Installation costs vary according to the complexity of the design and the sophistication of the finished look that you wish to achieve.
What if you’re planning on doing the work yourself?+
It is possible and quite gratifying, to do many parts of a remodel yourself, but when you want the finish to look really good, a good cabinet installer is worth his/her weight in gold. Although, I've seen DIY'ers accomplish great things, it's the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, it’s also possible to do it yourself and spend as much money as a professional would have charged in the first place.
To do it yourself, you should consider;
- are you experienced and confident in your remodel skills?
- are you well tooled and willing to buy more if needed?
- do you have enough available time to eventually finish the project?
- do you know the materials you’ll need and can you find them at a fair price?
- is your budget realistic? (Use $250 per square foot as a rough estimate)
- is your marriage secure? (It’s pretty stressful with everything torn up week after week)
You might consider the owner-builder option where you locate, schedule and pay the various tradesmen directly. What’s critical here is your network…are you cold-calling from the Yellow Pages and not getting called back, or do you already know and trust folks to do the work. This is where paying a little more for a reputable contractor pays off by having the job done professionally and in a timely manner.
What kinds of cabinetry do you supply? +
Anything and everything is the short answer.
I spec and supply a variety of stock, semi-custom and custom factory made cabinetry. I’ve worked for years with a small number of dependable manufacturers; a few are versatile, family-run operations that have grown over the years (DeWils & Hertco), another larger Iowa company specializes in higher-end custom pieces (Omega), while two more are national scale with regional facilities, whose economy of scale produces a high-quality cabinet at a competitive price (Kemper, Aristocraft).
I also consult with two local custom cabinet-makers, if they better suit a client’s desire. Competition among style and specie is keen in the cabinet business. The “standard” woods are oak, maple, alder, hickory, cherry and “thermofoil” laminates. A longer list of other species is available, along with innumerable combinations of door and finish styles.