Installing Custom Kitchen Cabinets: Surviving Your Kitchen Remodel

Custom Kitchen CabinetsWeek #7 of our kitchen remodel has been the worst week so far.  After dealing with the sink issue last week, I thought all the bad stuff was done.  The week started hopefully.  Progress was being made.  Only a few hours into the new week and optimism turned to despair.

As readers of my remodeling adventures know, the custom kitchen cabinets were delivered well in advance.  Several of the cabinets were installed last week (week #6).  The remaining customer kitchen cabinets were to be installed this week. Everything was going well until the contractor discovered that the pantry cabinet was too tall.  What the f…k.  The solution was two cut a new hole in our recently refinished and pristine ceiling. This would  allow just enough clearance to place the pantry cabinet in the upright position.  After convincing myself there was no other option, a hole was cut and the pantry cabinet was set into place.

Custom Kitchen Cabinets

The electrician  paid a visit to measure for our strip power outlets and under cabinet lighting.  This visit lead to another ugly discovery.  The bottom of the frameless cabinets are flat. There was no recessed space to conceal the power strip and lighting.  Unbelievable.  The solution recommended was to add trim to the bottom of the cabinets.  That solution was rejected. It compromised the clean look of the modern cabinets and decreased the length between the top of the counters and bottom of the cabinets.  I was excited to finally have 17.5 inches and space for my appliances and our extra tall pepper mill.  I wasn’t giving that up.

At this point things got tense with the contractor.  And the hits didn’t stop.  Back to the pantry cabinet.  Now we discovered it was too wide and didn’t fit into the allotted space.  The solution recommended was to rip out the trim and install wood trim that was about an inch narrower.  This solution too was rejected.  It was one problem that didn’t require a lot of thought.  The pantry cabinet simply had to be rebuilt to the correct width.  The cabinet maker simply didn’t allow enough wiggle room in his measurements.  A new cabinet will be built.  It will take 14 days to build a new custom cabinet.  The good news is that the pantry cabinet will not prevent us from having a functioning kitchen.  Nor it is dependent on the back splash installation.

A nice hole remains in our ceiling.  A decision on the under cabinet lighting is pending.

This week’s tip for surviving installation of your custom kitchen cabinets:

1. Even though I had the cabinet guy come and measure twice, we still had a major issue with the pantry cabinet.  If I had it all over to do again, I would have insisted on better layout drawings as a starter.  Second,  I would walk through each custom kitchen cabinet on site with the cabinet builder (size and function).  Discuss tolerances.  In an older home, walls are not straight so adjustments have to be made on site.

2. Despite the fact the under cabinet light and power strips were always in the plan, the cabinets weren’t build to “hide” these features.  Insist that your final drawings “call out” each appliance, fixture and feature to be added to your kitchen.  This should include, sizes, model numbers and position within the kitchen.  We had a list of appliances and fixtures.  Unfortunately there were on separate documents.  Don’t assume there is good communication between your contractor and sub contractor.

3. Your contractor will want to take the easy routine on problems.  Stand firm and demand that mistakes be made right.  In our case, the labor to cut and repair the ceiling will be on the contractor’s dime, along with building a new pantry cabinet.

Traveling with lipstick is Veronica’s blog on travel, beauty and living life beautifully organized. She is going through an open concept kitchen remodel at her Bellevue, WA home and is taking time to document her experience in the next several blog posts. Next week will see more changes to the kitchen remodel as quartz counter tops are put in place and the back splash is installed. 



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