rebuilding cabinets using existing doors/drawers?

HammerMomMarch 3, 2013

We recently had water damage to our kitchen and in order to remove the floors that were laid under the cabinets, the cabinets (and therefore countertop) had to be removed. In the process of removing the cabinets, the water mitigation co. damaged/destroyed the boxes. Our insurance wants us to have new base boxes built and to reuse the 24 year old doors and drawers. (saying that way they will match the uppers that were not damaged) Only one cabinet maker out of 6+ that we contacted said that he could do it, but won't warranty the old parts, which is understandable. The others say it's simply not cost-effective and suggest replacing both upper and lower cabinets in order to guarantee a match.

I'm curious to know if anyone has ever heard of this type of approach? I've heard of refacing doors/drawers, but this seems backwards. Any feedback/input would be greatly appreciated.

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One of the businesses I had been involved with accomplished this on an irregular basis, with the following method.
The ceramic tile counters were left in place and supported.
The box and toe-kick material was milled and the cabinets rebuilt in place, beneath the counter tops, and the face frames installed.
Generally accomplished, one carpenter, in two too four days.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:08AM
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My house is 24 years old, and I know how worn and outdated my cabinets are. Can you use the damage as an excuse to remodel your kitchen - maybe making improvements to layout or design?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 1:30AM
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I'm sorry, but that just sounds preposterous. Keep in mind that I'm not an insurance person, nor have I ever made such an insurance claim. It's still preposterous, and absurd besides. The doors/drawers are one and the same as those totaled base cabinet boxes and the entirety needs replacing. That's kind of like if you broke the axle on your car and twisted the frame, but your insurance company insisted that you build a new car around the motor because the motor isn't completely worn out yet.

I recall at least one person on here has had to replace cabs for the same reason you are. Hopefully, said person or persons will chime in with their experience.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:26AM
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there's a phrase"the car was totalled"...What you are not saying however is what you felt about the kitchen and the cabs and realistically what you think of the kitchen in relation to the home. Cost/benefit analysis-it'sprobably not worth it.....unless you absolutely loved the kitchen/cabs in their state prior to the accident. Figuring out what to do: you have to play hardball with the ins co. which is tough because a car is easier-a hunk of metal. There are too many factors with this. I would go to the one guy and get a quote and make sure every thing/and I mean everything is in it-exact materials to what you had to accomodate the drawers/doors/finishing/hardware/installation/trimming out and submit this. Submitting it doesn't even mean they'll accept it....but you have to submit. Find out what their procedure is-paying a check to you or the "guy" to build. Then figure out with that settlement is there more input you would put into the project to make a more up to date/upgraded kitchen with some of your capital.That's what you are not describing in your post-if you would do more than just replace apples to apples. Aren't the people who damaged the cabinets liable for some of the cost?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:31AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Get a lawyer. Your insurance company is being an ass over this. And if they are trying to do this with cabinets, then they are probably doing it with other items as well. You need someone to look out for your interests here that they will pay attention to.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:48AM
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Thank you everyone, and yes, I agree that this seems short-cutting and low-balling. The field adjuster has actually been generous with everything else, and while there is some fine-tuning to the estimates he's prepared so far, it hasn't taken too much work to get him to revise the xactimate pricing with the real-life estimates I've submitted so far....except the cabinets. The cabinets are "okay" as far as whether I like them or not. My concerns arise over the following:

The insurance has approved the replacement of the hardwood floor, carpet (which we will also upgrade to wood) and the tile countertop/backsplash (we will pay the difference to upgrade) but then they want us to re-use the OLD doors and drawers in a NEW frame - so yes, I feel cheated on this. And yes, we want to make additional improvements since there's so much work having to be done. But basically, I don't understand how he can see that as making us whole; NEW floors, NEW countertop and half-way NEW/OLD cabinets?

The estimate from the one cabinet maker who said he could do this (and I really like him and his work) does say that he won't warranty the old parts, which I agree he shouldn't - what is the point in spending that much money for something that has no guarantee? The field adjuster just doesn't seem to see this point.

It sounds like I have to make a stronger case with him. Uggghhh, and Grrrrrr....if anyone else has further comments/suggestions, I'd appreciate it!

And in the meantime, guess I'll be posting here more as we go through the remodel process! Loving what I've come across so far.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:27AM
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the field adjuster probably doesn't have technical knowledge re what is involved with the cabinets. Call higher up the Ins Co food chain and ask for someone else because this one is demonstrating lack of expertise/knowledge. Tell them there is a large discrepancy between the adjuster and the knowledge/info provided by SIX carpenters and this is holding up reasonable progress. The INS CO would love for you to be frustrated and scratch your head and feel you have to accept what the underqualified person says.That's not the case ,and you have to tell them SIX outside skilled people have disagreed to date.Be firm.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:50AM
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I'm curious - how did the counters and backsplash get water damage, but not the door fronts?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:19AM
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annkh - the dishwasher had a bad valve, leaked, and damaged the cabinet sides of the surround and the hardwood floor...the countertops were tile and mounted to the base cabinets in a way that the water mitigation co. could not remove without tearing apart (perhaps a more competent company could have done better, but the field adjuster would only warranty additional damage if this particular company did the work...)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:18PM
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Gotcha. What a disaster!

I hope you get some satisfaction from the insurance company. The idea of replacing the cabinet boxes but not the doors is ridiculous. The car analogy above was right on.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:46PM
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What percentage of the cabinets are damaged? It's just like a car. If the percentage of damage to the entire unit is greater than X, replace. If not greater than X, repair.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:44AM
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I forgot to add this. If the percentage of damage is small relative to the size of the items damaged and a homeowner wants to upgrade everything during the claims adjustment process, then the question of fraud may need to be explored.

I am NOT assuming you are being fraudulent. Just making a general statement.

I am not, and have not been, a claims adjuster.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:55AM
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1929Spanish - the lower cabinets were approved to be removed by the adjuster in order to remove the water damaged wood floor that was under. We did not know the extent of the water damage to the cabinets until they were pulled, and the damage to them was caused by the water mitigation company when they removed them. I would estimate that the lower cabinets represent about 65% of the total cabinetry in the kitchen. The uppers are still there.

I don't even know how to respond to the rest of your post. Just because a homeowner upgrades items, paying out of their own pocket, does NOT suggest fraud. It is very common for homeowners to upgrade when in this predicament and adjusters are well aware of this.

This post was edited by HammerMom on Tue, Mar 5, 13 at 10:30

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Based on the 65%, I agree with the others that you should continue to push the adjuster.

Again, I wasn't suggesting you might be doing something sneaky. Unfortunately, because there are some "bad apples" out there- the rest of us pay the price and adjusters have to consider everything.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:58AM
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Good grief!

It's one thing for the insurance company to investigate whether it is possible to re-use doors and drawer fronts, but it's really baffling that they would insist on it when the professionals say "not worth the trouble".

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 3:34PM
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Well, what are the estimates for 1. custom-made boxes to fit the existing doors and drawers, or 2. new semi-custom cabinets all-around? Will the color/grain match?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 5:03PM
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Well, it sounds to me that they don't want to pay for the undamaged upper cabinets. Kinda like if you had His and Hers Benzs in the garage and one was totaled the company would not pay to replace both of them in order to get the paint to match.

As to the cabinet maker not wanting to warrant the old hardware, see if the ins company would pay for new hardware. What's most important is probably the drawer slides and door hinges.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 5:39PM
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There's a difference between non-matching his and hers Benzes and non-matching upper and lower cabinets.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:47PM
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They aren't counting the labor to remove all that hardware and re-install it in the boxes. That will take hours and hours per cabinet.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:44PM
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There is a difference between "matching" automobiles - they just look alike but aren't a set, which is what cabinets are considered, and that's where the insurance is saying that rebuilding the bases using the doors/drawers will therefore make it match, in theory....who knows if they really will or won't.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 11:32PM
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I just read this and thought I'd put in my 2 cents.

I can see how the cabinets can be made to fit the doors and drawers, but we've just done some of this ourselves, and I'll tell you the problems we encountered.

New wood still looks like new wood when it's next to the old wood. Even if you match the color of the stain perfectly, the finish will still be a little different. And if you strip the doors and drawers and finish them all at the same time, you'll have to have two different stain colors, one for the new, and one for the old wood.

Hardware has changed in 24 years. Probably not a big deal for the doors, but if your drawers have the center rail, you'll have to change to side rails or slides. So your cabinet will have to have a bigger opening for the drawers to accommodate the 1/2" space needed on each side. That means the stiles will have to be different than the original cabinets, and your doors under the drawers won't fit then. Or they'll have to build the cabinets with special stiles that will accommodate both door sections and drawer sections.

Does that make sense?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 12:20AM
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marti8a - yes, it makes a lot of sense and I very much appreciate your comments. I think the cabinet maker is looking in to the hardware issues, along with a few other things. Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 1:20AM
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I have the same problem with my cabinets and the insurance company is saying the same thing. What was the end result of your experience?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 9:42PM
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Short story: the insurance company finally agreed and covered new cabinets, complete.

Somewhat longer story: it took firing the first water remediation company because, among other things, they lacked professionalism and caused more collateral damage to the kitchen than the original water damage. We had a second company come out to finish the necessary work. Despite that the cabinet makers all agreed that it would take more labor and costs to rebuild rather than just build new, it took the owner of this other company to help get the adjuster to understand why his demand was not fair and made no sense at all considering what we had to work with: no face frames, no boxes, would need new hardware and there were no guarantees that the wood would match as the old cabinets were oak then brush painted white.

Our new cabinets are custom, installed just a few weeks ago and are absolutely beautiful!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 12:17AM
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