Friday, December 4, 2015

Big Box Stores and Kitchen Bath Projects

Finally the day has come for you to find who you want to award your Kitchen or Bath project too.
Where do you start? How do you compare when there is so much you do not know? Who is the best choice for you? Who can you trust? So many critical questions! This is daunting because it is probably one of the most stressful times you and your family will endure together. It is also changing your biggest portfolio item, your home. This is the house and property you count on to appreciate and secure your future. The choice you make has everything riding on it.

The hard truth that can lead to either being thrilled with your project, or feeling frustrated , possibly ripped off, is hidden to most. When you begin your research and walk into various showrooms all the kitchen cabinet displays look great. In fact, they look very similar. It is hard to understand why the same size and shape kitchen  can vary in price dramatically. The confusion is on purpose. It is called PR and Marketing. Let me help you translate the hidden differences. Hopefully in the process I will educate you about the best choice of  cabinet lines and construction professionals for your specific need. You may find different places meet different needs. You may have improvement projects over the years for properties you own and live in. It is possible that you may need a Design Build contractor for one of the projects, yet on another a big box retailer's level of product and project management might be fine for another. Lets explore the differences.

There is a niche for every customer and every cabinet retailer. Everyone has a different need and taste to fulfill their expectations. Thus, there is plenty of business for every level and type of Kitchen and Bath retailer.

I frequent Big Box stores myself such as Lowes and Home Depot. They are so convenient, aren't they? They play an important role in taking care of  homeowners wanting to update and improve their entire home. They also offer remodeling kitchens and baths. There are some important distinctions to consider.

Let's compare the details in product, design, service, project management and the security of your home and family during any project you may be interested in. We will begin with Products in this post.

I would choose to purchase cabinets in a Big Box Retailer if I were an investor in rental properties.
Landlords need to spend money to repair, replace, and update their income properties on a regular basis. Stock cabinets available in Lowes and Home Depot are perfect for this application. They tend to stock the same cabinet in common sizes in four to six selections of wood species and finishes year after year. If a tenant damages one of the cabinets, it is not to difficult to pick up a replacement.

Another application that makes sense is investors who flip houses and want to maximize their profit. This can be tricky but it makes sense to get the best "Wow Factor" with the least investment.  After all, this is not your home. You are not going to live there. Your goal is to make it as appealing as possible for the least amount of money.  The cabinet lines available in Big Box retailers are equivalent to "Contractor Grade" cabinets sold to most new home builders. These cabinets are not custom cabinetry. They are limited in sizes and attributes that are readily available in truly semi custom or real custom cabinets. Here at Apple Wood, we have this lower level cabinetry available,
for our new home builder customers building "Spec " houses to sell. Rarely are our normal home owner customers wanting to limit themselves to these basic choices.

Big Box Retailers cabinetry lines, even name brands are manufactured differently than the product the same company manufactures for privately owned Design Build firms or Mom and Pop showrooms. Why? In the home improvement business it is common knowledge that every major manufacturer of products sold in big box stores has a "knock off" level of product built to lower standards than the original  higher end product being copied. This is the reason you may find a faucet, a light fixture, a cabinet, flooring, and any other component to improving your property that appears like the same one you see being much more expensive in a private business showroom.
They look the same. However, the manufacturing standards are not the same. Big box stores leverage the power of volume sales to negotiate lower cost. That often translates into being made with lower standards and cheaper parts.

In cabinetry the knock offs may have lower standard cabinet box and drawer construction. The joint
construction of the doors may not be as tight and strong. They may not hold up to use, especially with young children. The matching of grains in the wood stave's that make up the doors may be much more random than a better cabinet lines doors would be. Higher end cabinet lines spend time and money to hire specialists who pay attention to such details. The finishing steps may also be less. There are many steps to the smooth strong finish that resists scratches, fading or the surface becoming dull prematurely.

Although it is possible to do some modifications on cabinets lines designed and sold in Lowes and Home Depot, they are very limited. If you want taller wall cabinets, you will still be limited to heights of 36 to 42 inches. Truly custom lines often range from 30 to 60 , even 72 inches.
There are so many considerations that translate in to your satisfaction over the years as you live, cook, and eat in you new kitchen.

See what I mean? Were you aware of these facts? Next week I will post about the human element.
Anywhere you select to help you with your projects, you will need to work with a designer/sales person and a project management team. Who you choose is crucial!

Please don't lose any sleep over all this, we are here it help you!

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