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White Kitchen
eunypoo
February 12, 2013 in Design Dilemma
My builder has a very limited white kitchen cabinet selection. Is it possible to select any of these standards and paint them white? Or get the white thermofoil and outsource the doors with full wood?
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PRO
Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
The first thing I would do is ask the builder if you can go source your own cabinetry. Understand, however, that you become responsible for every detail of the cabinetry. The design, making sure that you have everything placed where doors, drawers and appliances fit and work, the quality, etc.

If you want to paint one of the above, the one on the bottom left would be easier to work with. Stay away from the arched doors, they are very dated.
February 13, 2013 at 4:07am     
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PRO
Dytecture
I agree, not arched cabinets and the ones with less grains showing through.
February 13, 2013 at 5:44am     
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diyher
also looks like they have very limited door styles on every color stain, none of them are raised panels.
I would contract out. Also be sure that all the cabinets are plywood boxes, not the cheap pressed board. I wish I had known that 19 years ago when we had our house built. Any moisture ruins the sides that show. I refinished my cabinets and have to buy the ply sheets to place over the sides that show so I can stain them to match the fronts and doors.
February 13, 2013 at 5:53am   
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PRO
Gabberts Design Studio
I think your bulider would know the best route to go to get the look you want. I would use them as a resource.
February 13, 2013 at 5:57am   
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PRO
Myers Constructs, Inc.
Those are very low priced cabinet doors from what I can see. Typically builders us the cheapest cabinets available and their styles are already outdated when they go in.

You can source cabinets from outside sources. Be sure they send out someone to measure for you, and share their layout with the builder so that the builder and cabinet supplier can be on the same page with layout issues. Be prepared for your builder to charge you to coordinate with your cabinet supplier, but he should discount the price of the house by the amount of the cabinet allowance. And be prepared to pay the designer for their work too.

Buy plywood box cabinets not press board. Get the soft close hardware upgrade. Skip the oak cabinets since they are way dated. Go for cherry if you can afford it, or maple with a stain. Don't buy a painted cabinet unless you are buying high end cabinets. Low priced painted cabinets do not hold up. A decent wood cabinet will hold up, and in 15 years you can send the doors and drawers out for a re-spray if they need it.

Hope this helps!
Diane Menke
Myers Constructs Inc.
myersconstructs.com
February 13, 2013 at 6:00am     
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PRO
CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
I wrote an article on working with builders because so many clients call me mid stream while building and are upset with the process, confused, and they are not in the middle of building their dream home. That is because you design your home first down to all details, then price it backwards and then determine if you can afford that. I used to work in luxe design build-most people don't know what they are getting into with a builder and end up with something they are not in love with. Here are a few tips from an old blog that I took down and then found today. I have another article on building a home somewhere......

1. Don't rush into the process without a plan! If you have NO plan, then definitely hire a designer to help you wing all details that will be demanded from your contractors daily.

However if you want to custom build, and have the luxury of time, pass a plan around for a year before breaking ground letting many eyes critique and make suggestions. Search & bid out all your dream finishes, sinks, fixtures, and price it all for all baths and kitchen details so you can make sure you are within budget.

2. Remember this: Perimeter comes first, then the interior design. Perimeter is your envelope which are the main characters in your "story".

Example: doors, trim, kitchen cabinetry, its layout and feature, baths, stair design, floor choices, hardware and knobs, any moving or extra window or sunlights, millwork that is built in, A/V and low voltage wiring, etc--all and should flow and work together in harmony for a consistent statement. Then be prepared to spend an extra 75$-100 a square foot typically for interior design once the perimeter is finished.

3. Always have extra funds, because you ALWAYS spend more upgrading, especially when working with a spec builder on a custom home. Have a fairly large contingency budget for any extra unexpected costs that come up with renovating, or upgrades of at least 50-150K--for larger homes. For smaller homes, 30-70K. The truth is when you build custom, most contractors price their goods based on cheap materials from the local depot and if you don't want those items you are going to pay for a change order. And if you don't plan well and dislike all of the builder's choices ---all those change orders per room will easily add up to be thousands and thousands of dollars. It's common because the client doesn't like what is normal and wants something they see in all the design magazines. Those items are far more expensive than standard spec house goods from the local depot. Furthermore, there are price increases on nearly every product every year at the Merchandise Mart showrooms, for carpeting companies, for kitchen and bath cabinetry and plumbing fixtures, and other high end showrooms many other companies.

4. Hire a designer with project management experience, before hiring the contractor. Why? Because your contractor will need a specific and detailed set of plans to bid the job correctly and so will subcontractors if you want to do contracting on your own!

5. Good Designers have quality subs and contractors. The client doesn't have to take their suggestions but things tend to run more smoothly when true professionals work together. These large projects require major coordination, and effective communication for a fantastic result.

6. Less Space is MORE. More character or architecture vs vast dry wall and extra rooms that are costly to decorate is always my advice. When you custom build you pay more than your neighbor who simply took and ugly house and made it look better in taxes. Many people don't realize they pay a premium in taxes for insisting on having a new house. New homes are taxed at a higher rate and property taxes are ridiculous in the suburbs and city of Chicago. They certainly never go down.

If you must build your dream home, ask yourself if you really need a living room and formal dining room? Why not just have the house be more kitchen centric, with a large kitchen, eating area and huge family room, and skip the formal dining room and living rooms that rarely are used anyway. This is the new trend in home building. Have a large unfinished basement when you finish that is not taxed, and work with an architect to get something a little smaller, cozier, but with all the storage you could ever need.

7. Bidding: It's not who is the cheapest of the 3 bids. Learn the right way to work with contractors: "How to hire, manage and fire your contractor" by Carmen Amabile . It will give you more confidence to deal with your builder and make sure you hire the right one too. Very important book that teaches newbies so much if you are not experienced in comparing apples to apples properly.

8. Make sure you are clear on your builders/contractors policies on change orders, how emergencies will be handled, who the emergency contact is, have all phone numbers, and have a clear understanding of who will be on the job site daily, who is responsible on their part, and understand the chain of command on the job site. Again, READ the book listed above please. You will find it very helpful.

9. Don't buy the lot until you know you can secure the financing. In this new market, its not so easy to secure financing for building. Make sure you do this in the right order. Don't take financing for granted anymore.

10. Dream big for your custom home or renovation but also be smart about it. It takes diligence on your part to do all the legwork in order to do it right. Your designer/architect/contractor are all separate pieces of the pie, and can work together, but they still need accurate budgets, definite plans, so be focused like a laser --and get your end of the work done upfront-- so you know what to delegate to others so that they can be a successful partner for you.

A CONTRACTORS / BUILDERS BUDGET IS DEVELOPER GRADE EVERYTHING. If you like Kohler, or the nice upscale kitchens you see on this site daily-you are not going to get from a spec builder unless you pay for that upgrade out of pocket. And the banks are not giving the extra money either for those upgrades so you must have extra cash.

I had a client build a nice home in Downers two years ago and they wanted something semi luxe. The clients wanted a kitchen twice the size he showed, better cabinetry, hidden appliances, a kitchen hood that actually vented to outside, miele convection oven, all kohler fixtures in the baths-in other words they liked the builders layout but hated his taste. And wanted something more. Fortunately they were able to sell their townhouse and already owned it so had 1/2 down on the new home. They ended up spending 200K out of pocket at their closing for all their upgrades but also feel its better to get them over with now then renovating later which would cost even more.
February 13, 2013 at 6:11am     
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PRO
French Creek Kitchens
It appears that the cabinets offered are most likely stock with veneered panels and probably not very well built. Request that your builder credit you the cabinet allowance in your contract and then seek out a kitchen designer whom can offer you the design choices you are after. Painted cabinets from a quality manufacturer are going to hold up better in the long run due to their finishing process; which is also the reason why they will cost you more.
February 13, 2013 at 6:27am   
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eunypoo
Thanks for all the input! I had this dream of a white kitchen and moving the fireplace to another location but the builder is not letting me change anything. I asked for my oak stairs to be left unstained but they won't do it. I asked for them to not fix on the kitchen cabinet handles and they have to do it. I'm not sure if i'll be able to outsource my own cabinetry without finishing it first. I have sent an email to inquire what my options are.

The picture above is the standard - maple. I will be paying $1185 to increase my pantry and and fridge uppers. I have attached upgrade 1 ($5195), 2 ($6110) and 3 ($7945) in order as it appears.

Do you think the plain white in upgrade 2 will look dated/cheap quickly? I originally wanted something similar to the first picture (above) bottom left.
February 13, 2013 at 6:39am   
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PRO
Myers Constructs, Inc.
try to keep in mind your builder is covering his risks.

If you don't seal the stairs, they will be damaged as oak stains very easily. And his subcontractor who gave him a fixed probably discounted price in consideration of volume of work gets hurt because he won't be paid.

The builder's pay out is probably predicated on certain things being FINISHED. Those are called MILESTONES. Your bank will hold him to those milestones in order that he get paid out. The longer that takes the more it costs the builder in overhead expenses.

Late client changes = upcharges to the client. The later the changes come in the construction process the higher the mark up to the client.

At some stage in the schedule there can be no more changes. You have to let them finish and then you can make changes after they are gone.

Try to see if from the builder's side. He has a business to run. He has many commitments to keep. He is building for you what you agreed to pay for in a contract he has with you.

And keep some perspective on your feelings. You are feeling a tightening budget and want to save a few bucks. But you can't do that at the expense of the builder and his business.

Hope this helps.

Diane Menke
Myers Constructs Inc.
myersconstructs.com
February 13, 2013 at 6:49am   
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PRO
CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
When my client built their home I reviewed their "budget". I told them they could easily spend 150K cash in over runs for what they wanted. They ended up spending about 200k because the builder also charged more for extra carpentry, extra plumbing, more labor on the paint since it wasn't just one paint color through the home, etc

Some builders will work with you on building your dream home as long as you are organized and don't hold them up. Too many clients start to build and then start holding up the builder because they can't make choices and are unorganized. They are not experienced designers or project managers.

Like I said, you build the home on paper before you even break ground and know all your costs!
February 13, 2013 at 6:59am   
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PRO
Myers Constructs, Inc.
Exactly. The builder needs to be compensated for costs + expenses = price to the buyer.

Too many home buyers buy on price, not on service or product quality.

This price expectation on the part of the buyers sets the builder and remodeler up to be the cheapest, not the most customer or service focused.

You will get what you paid for. Hire a good pro with a great reputation. Pay them fairly. Be a team player. Understand what you need to do to help the project stay on time and on budget. Then do that.

Understand that while your hopes are dreams and money are being spent, that does not make you your builder's business partner or boss.

Diane Menke
Myers Constructs Inc.
myersconstructs.com
February 13, 2013 at 7:06am     
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eunypoo
I heard back from my builder and unfortunately they will not work with an outside cabinet vendor, nor can they leave it unfinished. i must choose something through them for closing purposes.

Is painting cabinets or outsourcing doors a better option? They gave me the kitchen contractor company so I can see what options i have directly through them after I close.
February 13, 2013 at 8:53am   
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PRO
Myers Constructs, Inc.
Select cheap cabinets to close the deal with the builder. Then after the closing, sell those cabinets on Criags List and design/order what you want.

Diane Menke
Myers Constructs Inc.
myersconstructs.com
February 13, 2013 at 9:13am     
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parsleycarrots
Are the cabinet boxes of good quality--meaning, are they plywood construction or just fiberboard? If the boxes are good quality, then you can have the cabinets refaced with nicer doors, etc. There are several cabinet refacing companies so you should be able to find something that suits your taste.

If the cabinets are just fiberboard construction, you might be better off financially to get the cheapest style the builder offers, then paint the cabinets white. When your budget allows, remove the cabinets entirely and invest in the nice cabinets you really want. This route would give you time to live in your kitchen for a while, and really see how you like the flow, space, etc. You may find that you'd prefer a different layout, or that you'd like more of one type of storage.
February 13, 2013 at 9:18am     
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diyher
wow, you are the one paying for the house to be built, and you should be the one making the choice on cabinets. One family in our development opted out of all carpets, they signed with proof they would have their own company install the carpets they wanted withing a time frame before they moved in. Do you have a finished basement in the house? maybe you could use some of them there if not able to sell them.

I heard refacing if not done by the right company/installer, can end up pealing off. I've seen a number of photos online home owners have posted.
February 13, 2013 at 10:44am   
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PRO
French Creek Kitchens
I am all for not holding a job up, but you can certainly involve a qualified designer to provide you with the product you are after and not hold up the construction process. Very sad that your builder is more interested in just "finishing" your project rather than you being "satisfied" with the end results.
February 13, 2013 at 2:00pm   
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Jayme H.
I would go with the white the builder has before I would go with an outside company. And I like the 3rd choice the best.
February 13, 2013 at 2:08pm   
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olldcan
I'm sorry to read of this type of dilemma, yet again. Far to often. people are signing a deal with a builder and really have no idea of the quality of items they can choose from, until it's too late. A lot of "Standard Selection" choices are sub standard. The door fronts you posted with your design dilemma are not what a new home owner, in the building process would choose. Eeeck, was my first thought of that selection, I honestly would have a hard time accepting any of them. There's some options in upgrade #1, upgrade #2 is better, #3 looks dated. Good luck to you. Hopefully others will read your post, before they face this same problem. I could only suggest to other readers considering building, to not buy on price alone. Inspect the quality of ALL finishing items (pre-shop) PRIOR to signing or open the chequebook and expect to pay for the upgrades. Realistically, "standard selection" should be looked at by the builder with a discriminating eye as well.
February 13, 2013 at 2:42pm   
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DIAspoton
it sounds like you're buying from a large high volume developer. they build entire subdivisions. you can buy a finished spec house or a 'custom home' ,allowing you some selections.

you can buy a finished home or choose a lot and pick from a few plans with various elevations. then go with very limited selections on flooring,cabinets,etc. am i right? they buy in huge quantities and rush through and quality and diversity suffer.

PLEASE HIRE AN INDEPENDENT CERTIFIED BUILDING INSPECTOR BEFORE YOU CLOSE.

it sounds like you're pretty far into the process so find an inspector now to start monitoring for problems. the builder may claim to warrant the work but don't count on getting them back to correct problems after closing. once money is in hand, they're concentrating on getting the next one closed.
be sure everything is to your satisfaction before closing. let the GC know you've hired an inspector so they may as well do things right the first time.
February 13, 2013 at 2:58pm   
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CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
I'd go with a wood and paint them later---but its not as simple as you may think. Its a lot of work. I'd you tube how to do it correctly. We used a pro painter on this one job. You sometimes need to plane down the doors 1/8th when you do because things don't always close so well after adding thickness of paint to them . I had my clients kitchen pro painted and also carpenters worked on all the ugly trim details, put in all new hinges, slow closing mechanisms and made it functional for the next 10 years. Then they will be ready to rip the whole thing out once the kids are older. See before and after. I believe in hand brushed painted cabinets and not sprayed .
February 13, 2013 at 5:42pm   
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