How to reduce cabinet quote? What to eliminate?

minty19November 18, 2011

My cabinet quote is a few $K too high and wondering how to reduce the price without giving up too much of the extras...

I want painted inset doors and won't compromise on that.

My KD is suggesting eliminating the glass doors and end panels, and subbing doors for drawers in several places.. I'm getting confused about which upcharges cost the most $$. Are there easier things to give up than others? Any regrets?

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DO NOT substitute doors for the drawers. That is a major functionality issue you'll be living with forever. Are there corbels and whatnot you could live without? The glass doors can always be added later as can endpanels.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:03PM
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what kind of cabinets are they -custom or manufactured? if not custom you could check with a local custom firm to see if they can improve on the price. drawers are really nice to have, would prefer that over doors. would have to see design to understand implications.

how many quotes have you received? compeditive bidding may do the trick too.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:05PM
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Is there a significant difference in price between doors w/rollouts vs. drawers? I can't get a straight answer on how much more the drawers are.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:08PM
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Fori is not pleased

Keep the drawers. Are there any interior fittings you can lose (and add later)?

Is there a cheaper cabinet line with the same door but plainer drawer fronts? Some companies do that and you can get the pricey ones on the bottom and cheaper on the top.

Some kitchens look overdone (I'm so objective!) with end panels--are you sure yours wouldn't be better with a decorative plate on the end instead? I'm not sure these can be added later and still match, but they're only sometimes needed for looks.

Plywood probably don't need them everywhere. If you can save money by having your glass cabinets delivered without glass, get your own glass--it's cheap. The cost is probably the finished interior on those cabinets though.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:13PM
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I'd keep getting bids and compromise on other things than the drawers. Those would be at the top of my must have list now that I have had them. You can't go back once you live with an easily accessible way to use your whole kitchen.

One thing to consider is fewer cabs, but wider ones.
We chose cabs to be as large as possible and are so happy we did. There is 1-18" 4 drawer stack, 2-24" 3 drawer stacks, the sink cab is 30" and every other base cab is a 36" wide 3 drawer stack (3). I see kitchens designed with 9" & 12" cabs and think those waste a lot of space. I'd avoid narrower cabs by giving the extra inches to the other cabs. Not only does having more cabs cost more, but you pay more for installation for more cabs.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:16PM
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to get an idea of doors vs drawers simply take one cabinet that you are wavering on and ASK, how much is this 30" door cabinet and how much would it be if it were all drawers, surely she could give you that informtaion

for my kitchen, i deleted the corbels and purchased iron ones instead, i deleted the beadboard back in a different color and went with the plain backs in the same color in my open cabinets, and I went with plain wood ends rather than the deluxe ends that look like the doors, and i also had the cabinets come prepped for glass and then purchased my own glass locally. All those things reduced my costs.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:38PM
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Inset and paint are your big money upcharges. 20% for paint, and another 15-20% for inset. If you are not willing to compromise on them, then you may not be able to shave over several thousand. Glass and moldings are the next most expensive options to eliminate.

You should think about full overlay instead of inset, and cutting costs elsewhere than your cabinetry. Use laminate counter for a few years instead of stone now, and reuse some standard sized appliances like your DW rather than paying for new right now.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 11:57PM
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you could buy inset unpainted and paint them youself - that would save you some money.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 12:09AM
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One of my biggest regrets is taking the KD's suggestion to switch my peninsula from drawers to doors for budget reasons. The glass doors can be easily retrofitted later, and you can finish off the cabinet ends with beadboard and matching paint for a fraction of what the cabinet companies charge.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 9:06AM
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You could do like I did and put the beaded inset on the uppers and full overlay on bottom! Love the look only 1 person in 2 years has noticed that the entire kitchen is not inset! Look at my kitchen by clicking on the photo below. I put my glass in on my dime ($40.00). The interior is "finished" and that does make a difference in cost. My Kitchen installer used trim pieces to "make" end panels MUCH cheaper! I don't understand whe you can't get a breakdown on cost. (THAT makes me nervous) I had a full list of what each part cost so we could wiggle things around. I Totally agree don't do away with the drawers! Also, if you do the full overlay on bottoms your drawer space will be bigger ;) (the main reason is did it for the bottoms and pantry)
From Kitchen before and after

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 9:06AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Adding glass later is not easy unless you order the matching interior and the doors cut for glass NOW. That's 1/3 to 1/2 of the expense of doing glass doors. You won't save that much. Same with the finished cabinet ends. You won't be doing that but in a few places in the kitchen, so maybe $800 savings there. A top mount pull out trash and lazy susan cost big bucks, but those are two things that are extremely difficult if not impossible to retrofit at a later time. Drawer stacks can be double the price of regular cabinets, but that's a stupid place to cut. Moldings can run you $200 a stick, so that's one place to think about cutting, especially if your kitchen is large. Have your paint color matched and paint molding from a lumber yard.

I wouldn't compromise on paint either, even though that's a big chunk of what you're paying for. Inset, yeah, I'd compromise there. That's the biggest driver in you going over budget. If your quote is 20K, the charge for inset is probably 4K of that. There are plenty of very nice full overlay white kitchens.

Or else, up your budget. Your cabinets should come out to relatively half of your budget and your budget should start at around 10% of your home's value and run to 20% of your home's value. If your cabinets are significantly more than that guideline, then you are overdoing your kitchen for your neighborhood. If your cabinets are significantly under that guideline, then you aren't keeping your reno in line with your neighbors.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 10:31AM
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Have you shopped around to see what cabinet companies are running specials? Dura Supreme right now is having a sale where their is no upcharge for specialty finishes...this means you get painted cabinets for the same prices as simple stained maple.

I agree with the the other posters above...don't switch out drawers for doors. We ordered no endpanels in our kitchen...we simply had the ends finished. Did you order any fancy storage contraptions which you can eliminated? A lot of these things you can get after market for less or do without for now (for example, silverware drawer inserts, spice rack or pantry pull-outs etc).

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 10:33AM
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If it includes moldings, I would look there. A millwork shop can probably make them for 1/3, and unless the finish is very complicated, your painter can probably finish them for you and you'll still save 50%. The cost of moldings from cabinet co's is boggling.
You can also save on hardware, as they mark up self-closers pretty relentlessly, and you can buy and retrofit them yourself.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 10:44AM
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One KD I spoke to said to have the glass cabs made "glass ready" and then get the glass youself. He said it would save a ton.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Other than all the advice mentioned above, have you checked what kind of wood they're using? Since you want your cabinets to be painted, you can get away with a cheaper type of wood. No sense in them charging you for quartersawn oak AND paint! Also think about using MDF instead of plywood in locations that aren't likely to get wet. Maybe your uppers? Not being able to see the cost breakdown would drive me crazy. I have to have things itemized!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 12:25PM
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I insisted on a detailed price list for all options, this helped me to figure out if it was worth it to go with certain things. I do this for everything in the new house even though it drives my GC and lots of subs crazy:)

I chose to go with mostly drawers instead of lower cabinets. We only have a few lower cabs and I put roll-outs in some. Drawers and roll-outs are more expensive but I thought it was worth it.

My cabinet guy told me that full extension drawers are best with heavy drawers, so I only put full extensions on the pot drawers. I did not do any soft close drawers...never had them so I figured I wouldn't know what I'd be missing:)

For the integrated end panels, I only did those on the island. Since my cabinet guy does "integrated" end panels, they can't be added later. But I was OK with just doing that on the island to save money. I was going to do posts on the island but ended up just having him do cabinet feet instead which was much less expensive. The island is stained a different color with a highlighted finish - thought the highlighted finish was worth it.

I did not get corbels on the island overhang. The granite company is going to install some less expensive steel supports instead.

I chose to do raised panel doors, but it would've been much less expensive to do flat panel.

Are your cabinet doors mitered? Mitered is more expensive than non-mitered. We have non-mitered in our current house and new house and I think they look nice.

It is also cheaper to find a cabinet maker who will do white interiors. I paid extra to have wood grain interiors because I don't like white interiors...especially since we have dark stained cabinets. But if that doesn't bother you, you can save there.

What do your drawer fronts look like? Paneled drawer fronts are more expensive.

If you pick a cabinet door/drawer that can be easily opened without hardware, you can hold on hardware for a while.

For countertops - try to stick with a standard edge if you are doing stone. I chose crescent all around (cross between eased and bullnose) for no extra cost. I was going to do ogee on the island but decided to spend that money elsewhere:)

HTH! Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 12:34PM
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Change the type of wood. If the door style has a mitered corners, change to mortise and tenon. Buy molding from a lumber store and paint them yourself.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Your kitchen is just awesome. I love it. What is the wood, and do you know what stain they used? Nice kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 5:51PM
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If it includes removing your old kitchen either consider doing it yourself or find someone who will remove them in exchange for keeping them. We did the latter since we found someone who could use them in rental property and their garage.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 6:44PM
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sskit, that is a great idea to save money on removing the cabinets by finding someone that would want the cabinets.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 7:10PM
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IF you want inset, definitely get a quote or 2 from custom cab maker.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 5:43PM
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Thanks everyone for these great suggestions. I have a meeting with my KD tomorrow and will insist on an itemized list with prices. It's time to get creative!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 6:06PM
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We had the same dilemma...our KD did not suggest switching out drawers with doors as she knew how much I wanted them. This is what we cut:

  • Changed door style (biggest bang)

    • However, I should note that I was able to get the exact same drawer fronts with the less expensive door...which is what was most important to me...I have far more drawer fronts than doors!

    • We talked about purchasing the doors in the more expensive style later, but now that we've lived with the current doors, I realize I the other doors may have been too "fussy" for my kitchen.

    • I do plan, though, to someday create a hutch in the DR using that door style! :-)

Postpone backsplash (not even 4" - just painted to counter) - this the only thing I wish we had not postponed...mainly b/c it's been over 3 years and we still have not installed it! However, it was the 2nd biggest cut monetarily, so it was necessary to keep other things that could not be done later. End panels on the peninsulas - backs & sides

  • We did end up w/side panels as "free" b/c of all issues we had

  • We now realize that we do not miss decorative panels on the back b/c the back is usually hidden by stools - so we have no plans to put them on in the future

End panels on ends of upper cabinets - again, we don't miss them and may never put them on Furniture molding - have "standard" recessed toe-kick instead Eliminated GD on prep sink (bad idea in retrospect - should have eliminated on Main sink, especially since it was my DH who was lobbying for one less GD - he's the one that uses the main sink the most; he rarely uses the prep sink!)
Eliminated some "specialty" items like bread drawer insert (bread insert alone was almost $400!)

Actually, the really biggest elimination was the hardwood floors throughout the first floor (except FR) - that was $10,000. However, once we got the quote we "cut" that item early on. The ones above were cut once we had finalized our design and received quotes for labor, appliances, cabinets, fixtures, lighting, etc.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 2:36PM
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I agree with half of what your KD says. Do eliminate glass and end panels. Those can almost always be added later if you decide that you really miss them. Don't replace drawers with doors across the board. Drawers are way more functional. But do evaluate your specific storage need. You may have a real need for one or two lower cabinets. In that case, change those to doors.

What kind of wood is being used for the construction of the cabinets and what color are you painting them? If you're doing white, consider white thermofoil material instead. Or if you have a particular color in mind, maybe they might have that thermofoil in a color close enough as a compromise. Are the drawers solid wood like maple? Consider poplar for solid wood or even cheaper, the thermofoil stuff I just mentioned.

Are these from a larger manufacturer or a local cabinet maker. If they're not local, consider finding one and getting a quote from them. There are many posts from GWers like myself who found local cabinets makers cheaper and better than a manufacturer. Transportation charge is just one factor here too. Is this you only quote? If so, do yourself a favor and seek others. Competition is good.

What kind of hardware is in the quote? Is it all soft close? Consider eliminating soft close. As some have stated, if you never had them you probably won't miss it. Personally I'm glad I got them. If you have to have soft close, then another way to save on hardware is to consider non-Blum hardware. Everybody says Blum this and Blum that. But there are other manufacturers who are as good if not better and probably cheaper. Consider Salice for for soft close door hinges and Hettich for soft close drawer glides.

That's all I can think of for now.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 3:18PM
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I am/was in a similar situation early on. Fortunately since my project is moving so slowly I had time to think about what I really wanted/needed while looking for the right contractor. I decided fairly early on to nix the backsplash, rear door and storm replacements, etc. Replacing/adding cabinetry pieces later would not work for us because they'd never get done. After reading about the other poster who is 3 yrs for backsplash, makes me wonder if it was a wise decision.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 3:25PM
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I agree with the posters above.
Drawers are so much better than doors. They really improve functionality.
Pots and pans are so much easier to access in drawers or pull outs.
Compromise on appearance and not functionality.
Larger cabinets are cheaper than 2 smaller cabinet.
1 36" cabinet will cost less than 2 18" cabinets.
Molding can be added later.
Glass doors are nice, but not useful like drawers.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 4:03PM
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If you have pullouts in your design, consider purchasing and installing those yourself. Our cabinet maker installed the trash pullout but I installed a pullout for DW's baking sheets. Had I known that they were not that hard to install, I would have purchased and installed the trash pullout myself. You can find the Rev-a-Shelf pullouts discounted on Amazon and other online sources. I'm sure our cabinet maker charged full blown retail plus labor and they use the same Rev-a-Shelf units.

If you want drawer inserts (cutlery, spices, knives, etc.), consider getting custom ones from Wood Hollow. They are likely to be cheaper than ones from the cabinet maker. We got a cutlery insert from them and love it.

We considered doing our corner cabinet with a glass door, but deferred that to the future. It won't be an issue to do it later, as we really don't want clear glass, so people shouldn't notice that the inside of the cabinet is not finished.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood Hollow Inserts

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 6:02PM
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Ask the KD for options with amounts. More than two. Tell them what is a "must"

A couple of k is hard unless your already up there. What percentage is that.

Big chunks- door style can be 10% or more (just cabinets though)
Paint grade from maple-10% on entire order.
Brand-especially for paint- some are 5% while others can hit as much as 15
Glass same thing- in any do "prep for glass"no mullions

Nibbling at it-
As mentioned-side panels, check the molding stack (mix in some ply),
wall cab height (36-39 can be as little as 30/ft to as much as 80),
corner walls-blind corner and one cabinet can save a few hundred over pie cut or angled and two cabinets,
base corner look at config and choices, (2-400)
I never have trash field installed to save but most mfgs have several choices, tray dividers on the other hand, RAS field install are easy and $12 each compared to factory which can be 35-60 each. Other easy field installs are Hafele LeMans and RAS sliding turnout.
No drawer inserts-use aftermarket.
Use soft close only on pots and silverware (30 per drawer),
skip the doors (except glass-only 5 bucks but more an oohah than a need)
I disagree about hardware. I simply won't sell a cabinet with any but Blum and Grass glides unless side mount, period. Plenty of acceptible brands of hinges but you won't save anything on any that are worthwhile.
1 36" cabinet may save $20 over two 18s.

Check the next brand down AND the next brand up-sometimes the pricier brand wins. Particularly in paint, inset, or if paying a plywood upgrade (just don't)
Make the KD work.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 7:56PM
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Are there any upper cabinets that you could do without?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 7:57PM
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Mags438, no problem on the backsplash delay ... you'll join those of us in the ABB club (all but backsplash)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 8:17PM
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LOl- missed that.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 8:34PM
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Thank you, jakuvall for adding your input. I am in a somewhat similar position and ur advice has me rethinking some of my ideas. Very informative thread.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Glad it was of use to someone vinudev. Everyone is in this position, at least many- no one ever asks me to cut $200- it's always over 1k. I like to deal with the budget issues early and leave a little room. Nobody likes to come in over budget. It is much easier to add something you liked if your under than it is to give up something you had your heart set on.

Which is why I insist on determining a budget in the beginning.
Everyone, absolutely everyone has a budget- sure there may be some flex "I'd like to spend this" but if they later see decide something is worth the extra, but there is still a limit -how much they are comfortable spending.

I've dealt with some extremely wealthy folks and they are usually easier to get a number from, they have one and often it is less than some others might spend.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Eliminate the KD.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Never mind.

This post was edited by jakuvall on Wed, Nov 27, 13 at 22:17

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 9:02PM
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I'm a Custom Cabinet maker, I'm not sure what all upgrades you are including but the cheapest way to go is by using 1/4 inch flat recessed panels for your doors.

At my shop we charge more for painting and more for inset doors and drawers, it's comes down to the extra time it takes to install the insets. It's the current style now, and I know you said you are set on them being inset but perhaps you should consider doing a full overlay which still gives you clean looking lines but should reduce the cost.

Also, the worst thing you can do is add drawers, the cost of drawer slides and the extra cost of the drawer box will shoot your quote through the roof! We charge around $45 more for a drawer, this is because the box and the slides are so much more expensive then just making a door and using hinges.

If you are asking for "soft close" technology as well, don't. These slides are very expensive and wear out quickly. The soft close door hinges have came down significantly but most cabinet makers will still charge at least $10 per door.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 3:26PM
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Somebody posted about having someone else remove your cabinets and letting them keep the cabinets as payment. I thought I'd mention that I recently learned that you can donate your old cabinets and appliances to Habitat for Humanity. They will remove them for you and them put them to good use to help others in need of homes.

I found out too late for my kitchen unfortunately...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 6:12PM
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I would love to have someone's old kitchen for our church sacristy. Our church has been around since the 1800's and it desperately needs some new cabinets for that small room where we keep candles, communion supplies and some wedding unity candles that sort of thing. I keep hoping someone will want to give their old ones to the church : ))) So, if you can't find anyone to take them, a church might want them. Our building is so old we are constantly having "issues" with the physical building especially with HVAC and plumbing. Ok, sorry to ramble.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:23PM
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