Reply by jdmaher

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Posted on Old Topic Revisited (Pricing Cabinets)

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427 posts in 2547 days

#1 posted 12-15-2012 02:25 PM


This is not an area of expertise for me, but I’m very interested in the answers you’ll receive.

What, exactly, IS the additional value of a custom cabinet job? And I do mean dollarized value. This is a question that virtually every homeowner has to face (eventually). Being objective about it, IS a custom job truly “better”? Or can it be?

For example, you mentioned quality and craftsmanship. Do big box cabinets really use cheaper materials? If so, what is the dollar value of the difference (remembering to consider the discounted prices that big box makers likely pay)? Is the craftsmanship measurably better? Lets say the that your cabinets will look good for 100 years, but big box cabinets will be shabby in 20 years. What’s the actual value to the consumer? My guess is that they won’t be in the house for longer than 25 years, so that’s a 25% increase in useful life. Problem is, personal and fashion tastes are likely to change within 15 years, so is there value in that longer life?

Keith mentions ideas that I believe are important – unique values only a custom maker can provide. I hope we see a lot more of these ideas on this topic. Unique design and excessive communication are great starts. Planned “upgrades” are another good idea: don’t just offer to provide cheaper knobs and pulls, but offer to “upgrade” them later; and offer to add “roll-out shelves” and other hardware later.

Lee’s thoughts about custom sizes is good. To me, filler strips are a minor compromise, but being able to size a cabinet for (say) the left of the stove that is just exactly the right size to hold exactly what they keep there is something a big box can NOT do. Very narrow and very wide and “niched” cabinets (e.g., a shallow under-range drawer for baking sheets) – these “look” custom and unique – which is visible value they can point to. Shorter lead time could be important, so long as you don’t make promises you can’t keep.

I believe that an “un-fitted” look is difficult to achieve with stock pieces, but kinda the point of custom work. Custom and varied finishes accentuate that difference. Again, visual evidence of unique value.

What else?

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

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