general Kitchen Cabinet buying frustration
People say car shopping is the most frustrating purchasing experience, but those people have clearly not tried to re-do their kitchen! Here's what happens, or at least what happened for us:
After looking on Houzz, etc and getting some idea of what we want, we started by visiting the kitchen designer the contractor recommended. She was an hour away (we don't live in or near a major city) so that took half a Saturday, but oh well. The contractor had sent her the measurements and rough plans before our meeting so she was prepared. She asked us enough questions about what we wanted but was not forthcoming at all about the price ranges for various options.
(Aside rant: too many people on GW say they're not looking for any complicated trims or millwork, but then they opt for custom or semi-custom, and I can't see the reason for it. I wanted the opposite--I actually did want a couple layers of crown molding, light valence above the sink, and other decorative do-dads, but I don't want to pay more than necessary.)
So the KD didn't get back to us but instead contacted the contractor, which I found condescending somehow. This was so the contractor could pad the cost maybe? But we didn't get any information from the contractor other than a price -- $17,000. But, 17k for what?! The price of some things, such as heavily milled door styles, various molding, trim, and a floor-to-ceiling pantry that I sort of want but could live without all together could change the price +/- 50%. I'd be happy to live without some of these things, but there's no transparency in pricing at all. Not to mention we don't know which details she included in her price, since she did not communicate with us directly! Was 17k just for the basic layout of uppers and lowers with one plain strip of crown? Did it include several basic pot and pan drawers? Did she include the pantry we mentioned but weren't sold on? Light rail? Etc. We could have driven back to see her and asked, and then found out it didn't include half of what we were hoping to include, and then asked for a quote with my "wish list," and then would've waited another week and heard another rough number second-hand through the contractor, and then if that was too much we would have had to go back again to start talking about dialing things down a tiny bit to rein in costs, and there's at least a month of Saturdays wasted.
We did the same at another KD, this time by ourselves, without input or recommendation from the contractor. This went better as we were able to communicate exactly what details we wanted and so we knew exactly what was in the quote, but this quote was for $23,000! So, maybe I give up some extras I wanted, but still the information on exactly how much each thing costs is some kind of state secret. One example is the pantry can be pretty expensive, over $1500 depending on the brand, shelving, etc. I'd do without that, wasn't sure I was sold on the pantry anyway, but give me the freaking price breakdown and let me decide!
Repeat with 3rd KD, just as vague, about to give up altogether. Then, enter Home Depot's cab lines and the trusty internet. The prices, spec book, etc are all to be found online! Ahh, transparency, clarity, and information! Now I can see and decide for myself how many layers of molding are worth it, how many floor-to-ceiling pantries, glass doors, pull-outs, etc. You can get plywood, you can get soft-close, you can get whatever trendy glaze you want with HD�s brands, and mostly you can get information to make your own darn decisions without having to waste half your weekends meeting with unhelpful people!
All in all I found the process of working with KDs condescending and frustrating, as they would not talk straight about the costs of various options and instead preferred to make decisions for me and come up with some vague meaningless price for some total package they chose. Did no one else have this experience? Why does this model persist? Anyway I�m not looking for anything as much as venting, which is not really what GW is for, but I suppose I feel better now�