Sleazy Cabinet installer tricks

lazy_gardensApril 3, 2013

The kitchen designer and the installers in what was supposedly a top builder's homes did some cheap crap that was exposed when the top came off.

Inspect your house before the countertops go in!

A: Don't build special blind cabinets for the corners ... just use a stock base cabinet where 1/2 of it is the right size and leave the doors off the part that doesn't show. Leave 10 inches of precious cabinet space closed off and unusable!

Tack a strip of masonite partly across the openings to keep the pots and pans on the shelf.

No wonder the long-deceased ferret loved this cabinet so much - he had a 10-inch cubbyhole behind it for all his toys, and a 4-inch runway leading to it where the corner spacer is. No pics - I forgot to take any - but there were measuring cups and spoons, stuffed animals, mini-candy bars, spatulas ... anything the furry little pirate could pillage and drag back to his lair.

B: Ledger on the wall to hold the rear of the countertop? Nope ... they'll sag eventually but balance them on the cabinets and caulk will hold them until after closing.

There is now a nice ledger holding up the rear of the countertops.

C: Same as "A" ... but because the door would have been open to the DW compartment, they tacked a full sheet of thin stuff across the door area. Left the drawer opening uncovered, as you see.

That cabinet stops about 3 inches short of the wall.

D: Need a short cabinet for the dropped counter area? Use a bath cabinet and box in the rear to make it as deep as the kitchen base cabinet next to it.

============
Except for adding the ledger, and closing off the openings better for "A", we're leaving it the way we found it. I'd love to reclaim the space, but I'm not in the mood to rebuild cabinets.

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nosoccermom

Wow, great advice. Also sorry to hear about these shortcuts, but at least you kept your sense of humor --- even if you lost some space and your ferret. At least, he had a grand time while it lasted.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:22AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

OMG! What a nightmare! Our latest builder took many shortcuts, and we even did a class action against him, and he promptly went bankrupt, and started business under a different label. The insurance did settle, and we all got a minor chunk.

Enjoyed your humor, and it's a good warning!

Suzi

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:31AM
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scrappy25

There was a discussion on this board about using shorter corner cabinets on purpose in the corners so that there was no deep dark hole to lose things in. Someone also completely closed off that corner. Not defending what the builder and designer did since it obviously saved $ buy just pointing out that there may be a slight plus to the corner cabinets being shorter.

TOO cute about the ferret!
Although- we've had mice, I shudder to think what we will find.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:18PM
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snookums2

I see I'm not the only one who worries about critter spaces and trails! lol I like that stuff blocked off too. I wouldn't like that bare concrete and open wall joint either, maybe where your stove goes?

Yes, we could expect more from a top builder asking top dollar! We do not want to know what really goes on behind the surfaces. You can bet it doesn't stop there.

I had a workman here who was working in a $2 million house with very high end cabinetry. They had hacked them all up inside for the plumbing.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:53PM
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KentWhitten

I would say that almost all of that has nothing to do with the cabinet INSTALLER, but more the kitchen designer.

Rarely does one need countertop support where the back of the dishwasher is. If it is a stone top, there is zero reason to do it. The only reason I can see would be if it was a laminate counter.

The other stuff...well, you certainly have a difficult kitchen to design around. It would be best if the kitchen designer was very up front with you on things and explained it. I do have to say, how she (or he) designed it is definitely NOT unusual. Especially if you were budget conscious.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 5:44PM
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lazy_gardens

ARRRGH!!!! I discovered an annoying drawback to cabinet at "D" ... I can't use standard kitchen add-on pull out shelves because it's 2 inches too shallow. Need to locate bath cabinet pullouts.

That bare spot is where the stove goes. We pulled it out to avoid damaging the top while we were removing countertops.

Kent - it was laminate countertop on cheap particleboard. With an unsupported diagonal seam. New countertop has ledger across the back because this contractor prefers to install one 2x4 and do a few minutes of levelling to make the installing easier. He spends time on the prep, so the surfaces go in with no futzing around with shimming and squaring and trimming on them.

This house was built in 1983 ... typical mid-range tract house with "options", so yes the designer was under pressure to keep costs down.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:00AM
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cathy725

Reminds me of my kitchen that we just tore out. I don't know what the corners looked like, though since I wasn't home when they took off the countertops. I know my corner cabinet was deeper than that because I had to reach back into the abyss to make sure everything was out when I emptied the thing (which was difficult through the 12" cabinet door opening.

I think this is just another example of builder grade cabinets, which are made cheaply for looks when the house is new, but short on functionality.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:28AM
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ci_lantro

Since you're not replacing the cabinets, I'm assuming that they're in decent condition. Not bad for 30 year old cabinets. And, I'd like to point out that counter-tops with an integrated backsplash which, judging by the paint lines in the photo, is what you had...those don't need a back ledger board. This is because the backsplash piece is more than sufficient to keep the counter from sagging. That backsplash is glued & screwed to the horizontal piece and acts as a ledger.

As to the vanity piece functioning for a lower cab height, I'll compare that to the not uncommon method of spacing/ blocking standard kitchen cabinets out from the wall in order to have deeper counter-tops. I would not label that as a 'Sleazy Cabinet installer trick'. Cab installer would have zero input on that design decision.

Moreover, it's a little unrealistic to be expecting custom design features in the cabinetry in a mid-level tract house. At that level, cookie cutterism is to be expected.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:05AM
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Angie_DIY

I always wanted to share this story, and the title of your post calls for it.

My uncle is a GC, and many of my family members have used him. He is a fine man, big-hearted, talented, and enormously entertaining. I like him, but he is pretty slipshod. (I saw this firsthand, as, in my youth, he let me work with him a number of times on family projects.) Thankfully, he lives in a different city than I do!

When I floated the idea that I was going to do my own kitchen when I was back visiting my home city, he pulled me aside to tell me a few of the insider tricks. He told me that, if the walls are not square, this is how you deal with it. You pick up the corner cabinet, and bang it down so that the back corner hits on the ground first. This breaks the joints loose, so you can kind of flex the cabinet to meet the angle you want. You can repeat the banging if you need to loosen it up a bit more. "Once you get it screwed to the other cabinets, Angie, you'll never know the difference."

This "tip" on how the "pros" do it really made me want to DIY!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:19PM
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annkh_nd

My Mom used to have a wallpapering business, and in her experience, walls are hardly ever square. Uncle Bang-bang must do this a lot!

I'm picturing the porcelain tile or wood floor on which he's banging cabinets... ouch!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:28PM
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