Kitchen Remodeling: Installing Cabinets

You did it! You’ve put together the perfect kitchen design, the perfect door style, and the perfect wood species – perfect everything.  You have everything ready to go.  The only thing that you are missing is someone to install your new kitchen cabinets.
perfect kitchen
You now have two options:  Do it yourself or hire someone. 
Let’s explore why you would install your kitchen cabinets yourself:
You’re a professional craftsman and you have the skills. All the little lines on a tape measure do not confuse or confound you.
You already have all the proper tools.  If you do not have the correct tools, buy them.  They will pay for themselves in saved emergency room fees.

So you are going to do it yourself or with help from your Budweiser Buddies. Remember that you have already invested significant money in those cabinets.  Don’t get in over your head.  Work with your dealer.  They have years of experience.  They know the issues you might encounter.  It’s truly doubtful that the design you are studying is going to translate perfectly into an installed kitchen, expecially if dealing with parts like granite countertops from Topsco, etc. If you have a narrow house you may want to look at these narrow lot home designs. This is especially true if you bought cabinets but still have the old ones in place (typical).  Once those old cabinets are out of the kitchen it can be a series of interesting challenges.  Ask for help. Saving money.  Free is always good.  How much will you actually save?  Ask your dealer, they should give you a free Install estimate. Moldings, islands, paneling, etc. will add to the install cost but might be a great value when you factor in your aggravation.

First off, check references.  An ad in the paper or a business card under your windshield wiper is not a reference.  They may be great at dry wall, but that does not mean they know how to install cabinets.  A sign on the side of their pick-up truck saying that they do kitchens is not a measure of skill level. Also, installing one or two kitchens a year does not make them an expert.Option two—hire a professional:
Two red alerts: Make sure that your contractor has insurance—especially workman’s comp. If he gets hurt on your
property you might be liable for his medical bills and lost wages for the rest of his life. The rules on who needs what coverage are very complicated. Unless you are an attorney simplify your life and just make sure he has insurance.
Second, we have all seen Oprah shows where the contractor just took off with the homeowner’s up-front money. While it is no guarantee, if your contractor works out of a brick and mortar building the chances of him leaving with your cash is probably less.
The best way to protect your investment is to work with your dealer/designer.  This process happens three ways, both to your advantage:
1. You have already hired your contractor, and he has sent you to his cabinet shop to purchase your cabinets. 
2. You have already bought cabinets from a shop, and they suggest a contractor to you.
3. Or, best scenario of all, your cabinet dealer has their own team of installers.

So, if you decide to tackle your cabinet install yourself, ask for guidance. Your designer has partnered in hundreds of kitchen projects, and can offer you a wealth of information and practical instruction.In these cases everyone who is going to touch your cabinets has a vested interest in making sure your kitchen is perfect. So starting with the kitchen designer, to the cabinet manufacturer, through the kitchen install crew, everyone is on the same team – your team. They will work together, solve problems, and get the job done professionally and in a timely manner.
If you choose to hire a professional installer, talk to your dealer/designer. Once again, they have been part of the team on hundreds of kitchen projects, and will be able to recommend skilled professionals. And don’t forget to ask if your dealer employs an install crew. Nobody will have installed more kitchens than a professional kitchen install team!
Posted by Roger Hirschman
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