Who should purchase appliances

stuvwxyz99February 7, 2012

About to start on a minor remodel of an NYC apartment. Should I give the General Contractor the list of appliances for the kitchen and have him order them, or should I order them myself? And what are the reasons for your answer?

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It depends - is there anything in your contract about this? If you have the contractor buy it you'll most likely be paying him a hefty markup. If you buy them yourself, you can shop around for exactly what you want and get the best price. Is your contractor going to install them for you if you buy them yourself or will you have to hire an installer?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:27AM
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I bought them myself which allowed me to avoid the contractor mark up (he didn't mind) and also because it allowed me to put them on my American Express card and get an extra year of warranty coverage.

I bought most from my builders appliance dealer because he had excellent prices and offered to store them for free. However, I did buy several items from AJ Madison (call them instead of ordering online - you will get a better price) because they were items the dealer didn't carry (Electrolux and Meile). They are sitting in my garage which is a PITA but I ordered them early before the prices went up in January.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:59AM
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I bought mine myself.
My contractor installed them.
Most people I know who have worked with contractors on kitchen and bath remodels have purchased the appliances themselves.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:13AM
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Weissman - I have no contract. I haven't even contacted any contractors yet, we only signed the contract with the seller last week. I'm just doing my homework in advance.

So, contractors will mark up the prices? I had thought they might get a trade discount, which they would either pass on or keep for themselves (subject to negotiation). But if they actually mark-up instead, what advantages (if any) am I getting for paying for that mark-up?

AthensMomOf3 - thanks for the details, I hadn't thought about the advantages of using my own credit card. BTW, I have visited the AJMadison "showroom" in Brooklyn. I'm a bit hesitant to use them after the experience, but I am keeping them in mind.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:18AM
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Try going to Drimmers in Brooklyn. Very helpful and prices are very good.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:55AM
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I found AJ Madison online to be extremely helpful, accommodating (delaying the delivery a bit so I could have them stored for a lesser amount of time), and they gave me great prices (the salesperson found a 550.00 coupon that they used on my order - whatever that means). Plus delivery was free and out of state so no taxes paid.

It depends on how you pay your contractor. Ours is a cost plus contract, so we pay contractors cost plus a percentage. He passes along any discounts he receives. Lots of the appliances we bought were price fixed (Wolf, Electrolux, Sub Zero), but where he could get us a better price he did. They were lower than the AJ Madison prices, but I did have to pay for delivery and tax so AJ Madison may have been a bit cheaper if I had gotten everything from them.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:27AM
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I had a similar experience to Athensmomof3. Where there was a contractor's discount available, I was able to buy whatever it was with just his name and number. That's for a large remodel, however. In other words, the vendors didn't care if they were selling directly to me. The contractor's discount was for a certain volume. If you're just buying a new stove, the contract might get a better price buying it himself from the people he regularly does business with, if he'll pass the discount to you. That way the volume is spread among all his clients.

Beware of the "builders' special" packages, however. These are geared toward people who build spec houses and just want to slap some decent looking appliances in the kitchen. The makers give them big discounts for buying a whole suite that looks nice together. Unfortunately, they don't usually function as well as they should. You're better off choosing the individual appliances you want, and seeing if you can get the contractor's or designer's discount as a percentage off the total.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:55PM
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I expect the appliance budget to be more than a third of our costs (tending towards the Blue Star 30" Range, a Liebherr 30" wide fridge, possibly a Miele DW, non-vented Range Hood, Sharp MW and 2x through the wall AC units). Maybe 15k on appliances on a remodel that should be in the ballpark of 30-35k (refinish 800 sq feet of parquet floor, paint througout, new kitchen counter and backsplash, non-vented range hood and a bunch of minor touch ups and electrical work). If the contractor needs to order the appliances to make the job worth his while, then fair enough. I guess I will just have an open conversation with each of the contractors we ask for estimates from.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:04PM
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We bought our appliances ourselves. I think the notion that contractors get some kind of discount is generally a myth. If they do, as others have said, it's probably for some special package that you may or may not want.

Unless they have some kind of buying power, i.e. buying hundreds or thousands of units per year, you are better able to shop for deals/discounts however you like.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:54PM
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Beware of AJ Madison - great prices but I got screwed on the customer service and I could not get anyone, including my salesperson to call me back.

I had paid extra to have a dryer (mine was dead) to be delivered, installed with a haul away next day. MIL was coming to live with us from the hospital and she was bedridden so it was so important for me to have. The truck showed up on time and basically dumped the dryer. Said they don't install or haul away - that was another crew, and as I said I could get no one to call me back. I would really hesitate to call them again.

But there are some really good points brought up here. Stores offer free financing, cards offer point refunds and let's not forget airline miles. I suspect that once I get into the meat of my remodel I may need to sneak off for a few days.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 12:33AM
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My former GC's appliance deal was no deal. His discount wasn't any kind of real savings. I know one builder who got a small, mass-quantity discount on GE applainces at the height of the market when he was cranking out tract homes. In both cases, with searching for my own bargains, I could easily beat the prices of either.

Having a open conversation up front with any potential GCs is the way to go. Some won't go for you buying applainces, or anything else for that matter, as they won't get their cut of the transaction.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 1:32AM
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On a kitchen remodel, I was able to take advantage of a contractor office with Sears. Perhaps I should have checked further and would have found equally low prices if I had asked.

However, my major take away was that for me it would have been wiser to go with the local independant dealer. He would have installed the items and would have been available for repairs and adjustments and parts. I did have a dishwasher from him and it was useful to have access to advise and parts.

I suppose that this might not apply for unusual high end appliances, but otherwise it is something to consider.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 8:19AM
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Thanks to all for your input. It has given me some confidence about how to approach this.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 7:42PM
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Stooxie, No myth. Trade discounts are common. They're not very big on appliances, but they do exist. If you don't have a contractor or designer behind you, you can sometimes get the discount, anyway, by asking for it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. It's a way for stores to encourage people in trades to use them. They get the discount, sell the things at full price to the clients, and make their markup which helps cover their overhead for doing the shopping without annoying the client by having a cost higher than the store's standard retail. It's a standard way of doing business here. Perhaps there are places where it's not allowed.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 8:13PM
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Contractors discount on prices is generally a myth. If a contractor is giving an appliance store a lot of business year after year then yes he would get a discount, but most don't do very little. If you supply and pay by check or cash then you will get the best deal from independent stores. This won't work with the big box stores. If you have a contractor buy them then they are responsible for accepting delivery, inspecting for damage and installation. This is why most markup appliances. If you buy then you must inspect and okay installation and deal with any appliance that may be scratched, dinged or not acceptable.
That is how you save money. An example is customers providing plumbing fixtures to their contractor. They take delivery of a toilet and must unbox it and inspect it. The plumber charges you for installation and setup. If the mechanical in the toilet fails it is not the plumbers fault rather the manufacturer. You bought it so you have to deal with it and pay the plumber for a service call even if the toilet is only 4 months old. Some will not charge labor, but parts are up to you to get free of charge. This has worked for most people due to good fixtures, but has backfired on some and cost time and money. That being said appliance are different in that they are openly sold whereas
plumber deal with supply houses not open to the public and it is easier for the supply houses to deal with warranties.
If I were you I would supply your own fixtures and inspect all upon delivery and after installation. Include the install in your agreement with the contractor.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 12:54PM
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The numbers that contractors have to buy at to be able to get a discount is pretty high. It generally only applies to the big subdivision builders who do 100K+ in appliance sales in a year. But, then you're also really talking builder's grade appliances, a 5K package type setup. For a custom builder who uses higher end stuff, he won't manage enough projects in a year's time to be able to earn a discount from most appliance retailers.

And while you can "save" on a contractor marking up those appliances, it usually involves a lot of work on your part that paying the contractor's markup would save you. You will need to inspect and certify that what was delivered was what was ordered as well as coordinate the delivery and install from the appliance store. And if there are any issues with it, you will have to take time off of work and deal with them.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 1:16PM
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IME this depends a bit on the store. Like life, some people, and some businesses, know their job better than others. Obviously -- or to me it's obvious at least -- if you can entice more contractors to buy more from your store you're better off. If discounts will get em there, you're better off.

Some places don't really seem to follow this philosophy though, or the discount they offer is a pittance. Other places will let you be an "owner-contractor" and give you some sop. Whether it matches the 100K-builder's discount, depends.

I got brought around to inspect some marble to various places with a contractor and was offered an amazing price on some stuff by a guy in the yard itself that we didn't end up taking; too small. But that really nice gentleman who offered the good price, put me in touch with a colleague in the more tile-oriented/retail-ish-er part of the business where he honored the same discount. This store also sells lots of allied stuff too and as I'm in their system getting this amazing discount, it's all pretty surprising how much they're letting me walk away with. It's rather generous of them. OTOH, I am bringing my business to them, no question about it. So if it matters to them at all the bottom line volume of their business, I am contributing because of the great discount I'm getting. I am fairly certain this discount is far more than the typical "contractor" discount I would be offered if I had just asked for it on my own. These things are hugely variable and subjective and dependent on whether the guy you asked got yelled at that morning by his wife, I think. etc.

So ... I think it's a myth in some instances, not so in other.

lynn: No One, basically ever, calls you back. Don't take it personally, and don't take it at all. Call back til you get a real live person on the line and then ask for a supervisor. Tell them you'll wait. Don't let them "call you back". When someone actually does call me back I'm pretty much in line for a heart attack, so surprising is it.

And I'd tell the supervisor about your special circumstances as well that left you especially badly-off. While these delivery services may not promise to drop the appliance where it needs to be, IME often the guys delivering are willing to do as much as possible to help you out. When someone is a jerk like that, the "boss" - in this case AJMadison, needs to know about it. And when I re-read what you wrote just now I see you actually paid extra specifically for that service. So that's really ridiculous. If you know the name of the delivery company, call them directly as well as AJMadison. Tell the delivery company (it should be on the shipping manifesto) that you're going to call their "boss" (AJMadison), and you were really left in a bad position, on an especially stressful day. Not nice. We are actually all just people, with mothers-in-law coming home from a hospital, sometimes, even deliverers, and golden rules apply here as well. Not doing your job is common and distressing under ordinary circumstances. Under these especially difficult ones, it's more egregious, even. My opinion at least!

Anyway, point is: while they certainly should call you back, they won't. It behooves you to accept that and just stay on the horn til they talk to you.

And BTW, I've posted about this before, I've had inordinately good luck with the customer service from ABT, and they usually price-match too. If AJMadison gave you a good price, personally, I'd say "thankyou" and call ABT ask whether they would do the same. They're not quite up to Trevor's standards, but pretty darn close!

Good luck! Hope your mil's feeling better...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 3:34PM
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