Custom cabinets - too picky?

Jane1010February 10, 2014

We are completing an add-on/remodel and had new cabinetry built on site for many of the rooms. While I am wild about my GC, I've had trouble with my trim carpenter from day 1. Our communication problems have led to a couple major, indisputable problems, and now I find myself questioning his work overall. Aside from the major problems, there are a few small issues in the kitchen that I need advice on. I am a very detailed person, so I am wondering if it is just me being picky or if the work is not great.
Here is an upper cabinet where the doors are uneven. Only slightly, yes, but they are right at eye level.

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Here is a set of lower cabs and drawers where all of the faces are set at slightly different depths. The drawers extend the most, followed by the cabinet doors, and the dummy is the shallowest. Again, the amount is small, but overall I believe the look is disjointed.

I'm open to hearing that I'm too picky, I would just like an honest (and kind) opinion!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:05PM
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One more pic of the uneven cabs and drawers where I think you can see the overall disjointedness.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:07PM
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It's really hard to see the depth issues on the lower cabinets in the picture, but the height issue on the upper cabinet door would frankly drive me crazy!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:12PM
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You're right that they need some fine-tuning. There are adjustments that can be made, depending on the hinge type, and how the sink panel is installed. Have you asked?

This post was edited by homebound on Mon, Feb 10, 14 at 16:30

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Check the height at the top of the door for the first pic. He should be using 6 way adjustible hinges, and they are all adjustible up/down, left/right, and in/out. And most of the time, the doors/drawers don't get their final adjustments until the project is almost over with. It's an easy enough adjustment that you should learn how to do it. Wood will expand and contract with the seasons and may need slight periodic adjustments. It's not difficult to do, and showing the customer how to do it themselves is one of the last services that my cabinet installers provide.

On the other hand, if the issue isn't that the doors haven't received their final adjustments, and the hinges aren't adjustible, then no, you aren't being too picky at all.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:33PM
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I agree with LWO. My cabinet builder reminded me that my cabinet doors might expand and contract between summer and winter, and my installer showed me how to adjust the door hinges (if necessary). But he fine tuned everything. When one of the drawers was slightly out of adjustment, a week after installation was complete, he gladly came out and fixed it for me.

Wanting brand new cabinet doors to line up is NOT too fussy.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:42PM
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Oh, Jane.
Don't let anyone tell you you're too picky.
Wrong is wrong. Out of level, plumb, alignment, depth, you name it? It's WRONG. And it's yours.

And you as the check signer has the right to have these special cabinets made EXACTLY to your approval.

I'm extremely anal. I know that and tell people up front. I give them the chance to say they don't want to deal with someone like me. I've had my power struggles with some, but in the end what I pay for is often far better than what I'd planned.

Anyway, I suggest asking about a final adjustment this way, "These are looking really nice. (they are) Let me know when you're ready to do the final adjustments and I'll be here to be the homeowner's eye."

That tells him you know they're not right without you TELLING him they're off. He gets a chance to save a little time & face.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:03PM
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"...and had new cabinetry built on siteâ¦"

If this is true, this guy is a master craftsman.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:20PM
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Jane, I can see what you are pointing out.

All that I can see should be adjustable---there are/might be different levels of how easy the particular adjustment would be.

The top picture needs a hinge adjustment---either an adjustable hinge or remounting an non adjustable hinge.

The center cabinet doors look as if the closed/latch at the top center needs adjusting.

Drawer fronts can be evened up by adjusting the slides or stops. That is a rather difficult and time consuming job, however. Unfortunately, I have some experience doing exactly that alignment from building several pieces for my home with drawers.

Havingbuilt and installed cabinets, it seems to me the installer is just a bit lazy. All of those mistakes should have been fixed as soon as noticed, IMHO.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 11:53PM
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Thanks everyone! This was my first time to post, although I have previously found answers to dozens of my questions in other posts. I don't know how anyone completes a home project without this site.

I have not asked for any adjustments yet because I wasn't sure if I was being crazy. You know how it is at the end when you want to ask for a lot of changes but each one is like pulling teeth. You learn to pick your battles.

I will check the uneven top cab to see if the hinges are adjustable and if the tops of the panels line up. I was thinking that the panel was sized incorrectly, and strangely I never considered that it might just be hung incorrectly.

I will approach the topic of a final adjustment very casually. I'm glad to know now that if the hinges are adjustable I could be taught to do it.

I'm hoping that the drawers do not require the "time consuming" fix that handymac has experienced, but I feel reassured that I should ask for it if I have to.

Oh, and to Trebuchet- I bet you are referring to the full overlay doors. I forgot to mention that in a couple of the rooms the faces were made off site because I wanted them to be full overlay. The trim carpenter built the bodies. This was our first major issue. At the walk through, I brought a picture of full overlay cabinets and was told they could be built. Two weeks later the trim carpenter said it was not possible on site. I researched and learned that he was correct, but I was pretty concerned that it took him two weeks to figure that out.
FYI I think we are paying upper mid range pricing for all of the work in the home- not millionaire luxury pricing, but certainly not cheap. Of our GC candidates we picked the highest bid because we trusted him the most. It has paid off almost everywhere, except his trim carpenter who drives me a little nuts.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 1:21PM
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Whether built on site or half-on/half-off, there is your problem. I can't imagine quality cabinetry being built on site unless the site had a complete shop.

It sounds to me like this guy tried to be/do too much. Let him learn a painful lesson.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 9:15AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Site built anything is a big red flag. And ordering parts from elsewhere is a big red flag. That's not real custom cabinet maker territory. That's an ''assembler''. Fininshing anything ouside a clean room is another big red flag. I hope that the only isses are hinge adjustmnts, but I wouldn't be that confident about that with that info.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:03AM
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