Buying Kitchen Cabinets and Getting Them Fitted

Buying A New Kitchen: 6 Essential Tips

Your new kitchen is likely to be one of the most expensive purchases you make within your house, coming second only to an extension or large conservatory, so when buying fitted kitchens it pays to make the right decisions in terms of layout, design, budget and supplier BEFORE parting with any cash!

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Unless you move regularly, typically buying fitted kitchens is not something the average household has lots of experience in, so we’ve prepared these quick six fitted kitchen buying tips to hopefully aid in the process:

Kitchen Buying Tip One

Take your time – making rash decisions on costs layout or style could leave you unhappy with the finished result – and given the price of a fitted kitchen a mistake you’ll probably live with for many years to come. Even if your existing kitchen is falling to pieces it’s vital to research your new kitchen properly, get to know all the local and national suppliers, get a feeling for what size and specification of fitted kitchen you can have within your budget, so you’ll be in a position to make an informed decision.

You will most likely have friends, relatives, or workmates who’ve recently purchased a fitted kitchen, so ask them about their experiences – especially what they would have done differently given the benefit of 50:50 hindsight!

Buy a few kitchen magazines – if not for the kitchen suppliers, at least to get ideas of design and layout.

Kitchen Buying Tip Two

You’ll need to get a firm idea of your budget, whether you are working from savings or are planning on taking out finance. Work out what you can comfortably afford and deduct 10-15%. This will be your budget – the benefit being you’ll have a contingency for when inevitably go wrong, or you start getting excited and upping specifications!

Kitchen Buying Tip Three

When building a shortlist of supplier’s you should do a little detective work. Start by looking up web kitchen reviews, such as those here on Kitchen Units 101 (although remember people are more likely to write an on-line review if they are unhappy with a kitchen supplier, than if they are happy – so you will find more bad reviews than good).How long has the kitchen supplier been trading? Do they have a local shop, or service centre to you, should your project hit snags? How much of a service do they provide? – supply only, design and supply, do they fit, do they project manage? Check out their accreditations and membership of trade associations ensure they are Gas Safe ( formerly CORGI) certified for the work they are planning, that they have sufficient public liability insurance and so on. Finally check with Trading Standards if there are any known issues with them.

Kitchen Buying Tip Four

Once you are happy with a fitted kitchen supplier, check for any safeguards they have in place to insure that your deposit, stage payments or final payment are protected by any third parties should anything go wrong during your fitted kitchen project. See if they are members of the Furniture Ombudsman service for example who have a protected final payment scheme for members and provide arbitration in cases where there are serious issues that can’t be resolved between client and kitchen company.

Kitchen Buying Tip Five

It’s vital that before you sign on the line you’re clear on everything that’s going to be happening in your fitted kitchen project, who’s responsible for what, and anything that isn’t included in the price. You have to check and then check again that you will be receiving exactly what you are expecting before your order is placed. Don’t be worried asking the kitchen representative – it’s what they’re there to do – and no question is silly.

Kitchen Buying Tip Six

Everyone always plans to, but rarely anyone does. Take and CHECK references. Between your first encounter with your fitted kitchen supplier and signing on the line you should have asked them for some local customer references. No company has any reason not to supply references from previous customers if they’re as good as they say they are – and once you’ve got some you really do have to check them out. Ask the previous customer/s Did everything go well? If there were any problems were they dealt with quickly and to the customers satisfaction?

 

Kitchen Cabinet Costs – Saving Money

Saving money on kitchen costs:
cabinets, labor, appliances and services

On average, people in the USA spend around $23,000 in fitting a new kitchen.

Taking the “standard” US kitchen that’s used to calculate prices, (consisting of a sink and base cabinet, a double base cabinet, 3 single base cabinets, 4 wall cabinets, housing for an oven and dishwasher , countertops, handles and fixings) – for off-the-shelf kitchen units you could pay:

$1-8,000 at the budget end of the market,
$8-30,000 at the mid market,
$30-60,000+ at the high end.

If you’re thinking of having fully bespoke cabinetry – well the sky’s the limit.

These prices don’t include delivery, installation or appliances, decorating, flooring or tiling.

Installation for an average kitchen can be anything from $700 to $5000 depending on site and services condition – and again fitting bespoke units will cost significantly more.

Taking a typical list of kitchen appliances – washing machine, cooker hood, oven, hob, dishwasher and fridge freezer – can cost from $2,000 at the budget end of the market, averaging $3,500 – but at the top end of the market a single extractor can cost over $10,000.

Saving money:

You can still get a new kitchen on a tiny budget. If your kitchen cabinets are in good general condition but are simply dated, it’s possible and straightforward to find companies that just supply new kitchen unit doors, drawer fronts and worktops. These can save you several thousands of pounds, while giving a new look and feel to your kitchen.

If you have a compact kitchen or are willing to do some basic DIY, it’s possible to spend far less than $1,000 – however if your DIY skills are less than brilliant, you could end up costing yourself in the long run. With current gas and electrical regulations, these services MUST be fitted by a trained and certified technician – so there is now no such thing as a fully DIY kitchen.

To keep your remodeling costs under control, you need to plan ahead, compromise at times, and keep emotions and financial decisions seperate.

To save money remodeling you can:

1. Seek out affordable alternatives to expensive products.

* Laminate and solid surface countertops come in colors and patterns designed to resemble stone, marble, granite and wood.
* Tiles and sheet laminate flooring, can offer colors and patterns indistinguishable from travertine and other stone floor options.
* Modern laminate floors can look exactly like wood, even down to texture and having accurate v-grooves and yet are considerably cheaper than real hardwood floors.
* You can reface and refinish your existing cabinets instead of replacing with new.
* Buy off-the-shelf stock cabinets instead of semi-custom or custom. They’re so much better than in the past and offer excellent material, color and accessory choices.
* Shallow or counter-depth appliances look like built-ins because they don’t stick out beyond the cabinets. What you lose in visual you gain in savings as they cost nearly half the price.

2. Try to maintain a similar layout. In keeping your appliances, sinks, faucets, and lights where they are, you can utilise existing plumbing, gas and electrical outlets. Moving utilities is a quick way to rack up sky-high labor costs.

If you’re looking to save money design your kitchen in such a way that there is no need to modify their positions. The money savers are keeping the sink where it is and the cooker where it is. Water supplies and waste water are easy to move short distances but to move a sink to the other side of a room is going to cost. Move the oven and hob and you’ll be looking at moving the cooker supply circuit and or a gas line. Upgrade to a higher power item and you may need to run an entirely new electric circuit back to the supply box.

Don’t forget that any time you cut into your walls, you run the risk of causing or uncovering a problem that must be fixed.

3. Allow for the worst with a contingency sum.
 The National Association of the Remodeling Industry suggests putting aside at least 10 percent of your overall budget for unforeseen costs, such as:

* Structural problems that require repair
* Poor insulation
* Code upgrades required by inspectors
* The removal of Asbestos
* Fixing previously carried out poor workmanship
* Mold treatment
* Dry and wet rot
* Essential upgrades to the electrical service panel
* Termites or carpenter ants.
* Bad plumbing and lead piping

4. Try a little DIY and tackle some of the labor yourself. Fairly easy, unskilled jobs include minor demolition works such as removing cabinets or flooring, decorating walls and ceilings, or replacing and upgrading hardware.

Of course don’t take on more than you can capably finish. Many a do-it-yourselfer has tried to tackle plumbing or electrical work to save money, and then needed to hire a professional for a costly fix, or worse yet caused damage to their home – and even injury or death to themselves or others!

5. Save the fine detail or costly decorating for later. It’s easy to add custom touches and upgrades to trim and moldings, hardware, cabinet tidies or a tiled backsplash at a later date. It may end up more expensive this way, but can save money in the short term.

6. Understand the difference between needs, wants and wishes. Write a list of what you want to achieve in your new kitchen and then place each item in a corresponding column:

* A need is a must-have such as a working oven.
* A want would be nice to have and is possible such as a new stainless steel range cooker.
* Wishes are your dream items such as a heavy duty commercial grade cooking station.

By researching product prices early in the planning process you’ll have a realistic understanding of what you can afford and with some careful saving or juggling you may be able to add a few wants or wishes too!

7. Don’t feel the need to buy new. Thanks to e-bay and other furniture recycling sites, its easy to find second-hand kitchen cabinets and appliances at a bargain price, however it’s vital to make sure that everything fits – and that care has been taken to avoid any damage to the kitchen cabinets during removal and transportation – as often with older cabinets it’s impossible to buy replacement parts that match.

Kitchen Design 101 Easy Kitchen Cabinet Design Guide

Designing your own kitchen is actually quite easy. Most kitchen cabinets and kitchen appliances come in standard sizes and widths, so before you get a sales designer out to your home, why not have a go yourself!

Start in deciding the things that you like and don’t like about your existing kitchen. If you’re happy with the overall layout, only make any changes to the existing arrangement if there’s a real benefit to this – it‘s much easier (and cheaper) to keep existing services in the same positions. Think about anything in your kitchen you’d like to keep – the kitchen appliances, sink and taps or any of the kitchen units.

Have a look through some home-interest magazines for inspiration or browse kitchen retailers or DIY stores to see the kind of styles and layouts you like. Kitchen companies spend a lot of money getting their in-store layouts just right – so feel free to steal their ideas! When you’re looking, don’t forget to include builders and merchants specialist kitchen showrooms, as well as a your local kitchen companies – you may get some very helpful advice.

If you may be selling your home in the near future, try to ensure you have a kitchen with a wide appeal such as a simple Shaker style. Alternatively, if the style of your home is contemporary, it might be worth looking for a good-value modern kitchen style with self-closing drawers, creative storage options and a granite worktop or composite.

Planning your new kitchen

You can start creating your new plan by measuring and mapping out your current kitchen walls on graph paper. Pads of A4 graph paper are readily available in most stationers and larger newsagents for a few pounds – the best thing about these pads is that the squares are drawn out at a metric scale of 1:20 – the ideal scale for planning a kitchen. What this means is that every square on the pad is 10cm x 10cm or 100mm x100mm.

With your measurements, start to draw the outline of your room on the pad. Mark where there are any restrictions, such as a chimney breast and doorway, then mark which kitchen walls are external (ie leading outside) or internal. Next mark where the electric sockets and switches are, where the plumbing and waste pipes are, wall vents – and anything else like gas or water meters that have to stay where they are.

If you have a boiler in the kitchen, highlight where and what type of boiler it is, as well as it‘s dimensions.

With your walls drawn in and all the various obstacles, structures and services marked – you have your bare room plan drawn! Now make some photocopies of it and then you’re ready to start your design!

Kitchen planning checklist

Roughly sketch in pencil a layout that you like – it doesn’t have to be detailed – what you’re doing is seeing what can and can’t fit. Kitchen countertops are on average 600mm deep, so on your plan that’s six squares. Draw the edge of your worktops six squares from your wall.

Next think about what appliances you’re having in the kitchen and think about where they’ll go.

To keep costs down, keep the sink and any wet appliances like washing machines and dishwashers near to where your water supply pipes and waste pipes are, your oven and hob near the gas or cooker supply switch, and any other built in appliances handy for the key work areas.

 

When planning:

1. Try to keep the overall distance between the sink, fridge and cooker at 7m or less. This makes cooking much easier as you’ll have less distance to travel.

2. Try to ensure at least 100cm clearance between runs of kitchen units, so that two people can move around at once (120cm or more is better, 100cm is the legal minimum in front of an oven.)

3. Standard 60cm deep units can be a tight squeeze if your kitchen is less than 170cm wide from one wall to the other. (This can be solved in fitting special 50cm deep kitchen units, or using units with a deep service void and cutting this down. It’s possible to buy shallower appliances, and “domino” hobs can be fitted side-on.)

4. Leave at least 40cm clearance between the worktop and wall-mounted units.

5. Wall mounted kitchen units next to gas hobs should be offset by at least 5cm.

6. Leave at least 70cm distance between two perpendicular runs at an entrance to the room. 100cm + is better.

7. Remember that most kitchen unit doors project into the kitchen by a maximum of 60cm. Dishwasher doors usually open by 60cm and oven doors by 50cm – try to avoid these doors clashing with one and other.

 

Try out a number of different layouts – that’s why you copied the plans.

 

Once you have a layout you’re happy with you can go back to any kitchen showrooms and see what they think. They’ll point out any mistakes you’ve made in layouts and may come up with some really good alternatives. Some will put your layout onto their CAD systems so you can walk around your virtual room.

The best thing is, you’re in charge. You’ve made your own plan, your own design and you don’t need to have a kitchen salesman (sorry designer) in your home for three hours.