Finally! You’re remodeling and all you can dream about is new cabinets. You want to go custom, but aren’t sure quite what’s involved. Before making any big decisions, get the lowdown from the pros. Victor Tarapues of ABV Wood and Designs Corp. in Plantation, Florida and Fausto Mejia of M&D Creations Inc. in Brooklyn, New York – both highly rated pros on Thumbtack – talk hiring, contracts, costs, and the perks of choosing custom.
What are the benefits of custom over readymade cabinets?
Custom is a double win. You make the best use of your space, and you get the color, finish, and style you want. Victor explains that readymade cabinets come in specific sizes and measurements. If the pre-made cabinets are too big, you need a carpenter to cut and adjust them to fit into the size of your space. Even worse is when the pre-made cabinets are smaller than your space he says. In those cases, a carpenter has to add filler into the empty space between the cabinet and the wall and you lose precious storage.
Fausto agrees, saying that custom means you don’t limit your options, space size is never a problem, and the finish color will be one you love. What’s not to love about that?
What should a new client check for before hiring?
Read up on reviews and check references! Learning from others can save you from winding up with a bad experience. Victor has current clients that have hired past contractors because of lower bids, but the contractors never completed the work satisfactorily. He recommends stopping by the contractor’s shop at some point to see how the project is going and check that the quality of the materials they are using is what you agreed on in the contract.
In addition to reviews and reputation, Fausto urges you to always confirm that the company has insurance and a license. It will protect everyone involved.
When signing a contract, be clear about the materials that will be used, the estimated timeframe for the project, the total costs (including labor, materials, and installation), and possibly a guarantee of their work. Remember to ask questions if you’re unclear, and get everything in writing.
What can someone expect to happen during the process?
In general, clients have a good idea of what they want when they contact a cabinet maker, says Fausto. His job is to help them refine the vision and then execute it for them.
Along with drawings and sketches of the kitchen or bathroom, Victor’s company also shows clients different types of wood and wood stains available, as well as wood alternatives like formica, acrylics, and various types of hardware.
The duration of the job depends on the size of the kitchen or bathroom, and whether it’s a wood stained cabinet, or formica. Victor explains that with formica-covered cabinets, a small kitchen can take two weeks and a large kitchen up to three or four weeks. Alternately if you want wood stained cabinets, a small kitchen is about three weeks and a large kitchen five to six weeks. Bathrooms, being (generally) smaller, will take the least amount of time.
What is the average cost of custom vs. store bought cabinets in your region?
In the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area, a store bought full kitchen set might run $3000, while Victor shares that a custom set could be around $5000. There is a price difference, he says, but the difference is all about quality materials and lasting craftsmanship.
In the Brooklyn, New York region, Fausto say that custom cabinets can be triple or more that of pre-made cabinets. He estimates the average price to be anywhere from $300 to $1200 per linear foot. The variation in cost for a job depends on materials used, size, style, finish, joinery, etc.
What are the current cabinet trends?
It’s all about modern, says Victor. He’s seeing a lot of flat or shaker doors, light colors, simple handles, soft close hinges, and soft close, full extension drawer slides. Many of his clients like the European styles.
What would you tell your mom to look for in a cabinet pro?
Victor would tell her to get references and reviews from previous customers and to check that the materials they are offering are what she is really getting.
Fausto would also want his mother to see examples of previous work and to ask for great quality at the best price. He says that in today’s economy clients are looking for contractors that fit into their budget.
Be upfront about what you can afford, and you may find someone willing to do your dream cabinets at a cost that’s right for you.
Parting words of wisdom?
Don’t forget that custom work isn’t solely for brand new cabinets. Yes, says Victor, it’s nice to have them made from scratch to your specifications. However, as Fausto points out, refurbishing your existing cabinets with the help of a pro can make them unique. You can totally revamp the look of your bathroom or kitchen just by refinishing the cabinets.