Murphy Brothers Blog

Behind the scenes: making it look easy (when it’s sometimes not)

Yesterday I had a client ask me if we could use a cabinet-maker they recommend because (she wrote): “one of my co-workers has recommended a cabinet builder from his home town of Amery, WI who is seeking jobs.” We get questions like this periodically and each time we give it individual consideration….so this is not a “standard” answer for all similar questions. I wanted to include the communications it in a blog because I think it speaks to the value of why people hire us for their project.

I can check out the cabinet-maker further if you would like. It is unfortunate that many cabinet-makers are struggling…especially those targeted towards new construction. We do have a long standing relationship with a local cabinet-maker as well as some available “box” cabinets/semi-custom lines. I would honestly do hesitate to use someone new….especially in your case because you want to keep the cost down. We do finishing work for many of the cabinet-makers in the area and see the construction differences. If a cabinet is not properly sanded, it adds finishing time. If it is not properly measured or constructed, you lose efficiencies in installing it. Utilizing and establishing a relationship allows you to call in a favor when you need it…I have leverage on when I get my cabinets…as my cabinet-maker will move things ahead if needed. When you use someone new…there are initial inefficiencies that cost additional dollars…learning lessons so-to-speak. This is particularly true in a detailed item like cabinetry. As a result, you need to specify things to a greater degree (as an architect often does)…which can also complicate the construction process for the cabinet-maker if that is not how they typically do things. I also know the quality of my offerings on hinges and glide options…and can stand behind them….and my cabinet-maker also will stand behind them if they fail. If someone is struggling for business…honestly, that is not a good thing for warranty purposes either. If the cabinet hinges all fail in 2 years, we need recourse. Ultimately, using someone new tends to costs more in the long run, even in the case of where the product costs less initially. So…I am not closed minded to it…but if I believe it will cost you more to do it, are you still interested in me pursuing it? The proximity to us is also a factor. I cannot drive to the shop to see things first hand and transportation costs are higher for delivery and field-measure for Northern Wisconsin vs. our local cabinet-maker. The website shows he has done projects (I like the company name)…but there are no construction details….so it is hard to tell the quality and type of construction. I currently plan to evaluate cost/benefit analysis between pre-fab semi-custom and my local custom cabinet-maker for your project….but let me know if you want me to pursue it further with the company you are asking about. Depending on the confidence level we would have, we might have to do some work on a time/materials basis to account for the unknown in finish and install. Hope this is coming across okay…kind of hard to convey in an email. :)

Her response? “Wow – thanks for the detailed explanation about the cabinets! All of things you said made sense – most especially the potential lack of a warranty if the company goes out of business. So – please proceed with your original plan.”

Overall, when people choose to hire me, it is to provide guidance to their project. Most people don’t always understand the work or implications of things behind the scenes. Part of what I do is educate on that. This morning, I also sent out an email to someone providing a cost-saving solution on their basement regarding their feature TV area and emailed another homeowner an approximate amount on the work associated with removing the soffits in their kitchen. Removing those soffits is a portion of the total cost, there is also electrical rework (as there is a light above the sink). There could also be HVAC and additional electrical work if we find something inside the soffits. If they choose to remove the soffits, it would also mean we are replacing the upper cabinets (something she is pondering in this partial kitchen remodel…they are looking at a jump from a 1/2 kitchen remodel to 3/4 kitchen remodel). I also briefly explained to her that if we go with a tiered cabinet design, then the drywall work on the ceiling is a little more than if we have cabinets to the ceiling…but that amount is very small in the scheme of things and offset by additional cabinetry costs (depending on the final design). Sometimes it is putting things in perspective for people…projects are kind of “big” animals….and while you can worry about every $100…it is really about guiding selections and decisions around an overall budget and vision you create together.

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