My KD came in at $180,000 when he knew my max was $150,000

13 years ago

Just back from meeting with my KD. When we started the design phase, I told him that my budget was $125,000. That gave me some wiggle room in the event we went over because my MAXIMUM was $150,000. Well, his figures came in at $180,000. *sigh*

During the time we were working on the design and making the selections for materials, I specifically asked him whether he was mindful of my budget. His response was: "Always." I reminded him of the budget parameters and he responded that we were well within that and that I would be pleasantly surprised.

Now, I'm in the position of having to make cuts and it HURTS. The thing is this kitchen does not have a lot of bells and whistles that could be eliminated to cut costs. I passed up things like a potfiller, warming drawer, wine chiller, icemaker, prep sink, etc., choosing to invest in high quality materials.

Just to give you some context:

SIZE: 23' x 14' kitchen space, plus an 11' x 6.5' mudroom

CABS: QCC -Quality Custom Cabinetry $80,000 includes-

* perimeter cabs and 10'x4' island;

* custom legs on island

* custom stain on premium grade maple; island apron will be painted and island cabs will have a darker stain than the perimeter cabs

* wenge wood on mudroom bench

* zebrawood counter for message center

COUNTERS & BACKSPLASH- honed marble slab

RANGE BACKSPLASH- Mosaic glass tile by Oceanside glass

FLOOR- Limestone


RANGE - La CornueFe

HOOD - Best by Broan with masonry plaster finish




* Sink- Franke Pro 16 gauge stainless single bowl undermount 30x18x12

* Faucet - Dornbracht Tara Classic w/ rinsing spray

* Everpure instant hot water & icy cold filtered water

* Soap dispenser, Air switch, tapmaster, garbage disposer

LIGHTING - recessed 5" halogen ceiling throughout, undercab pucks, plugmold (I already purchased hanging ceiling fixture for over island)

STRUCTURAL: expanding opening for 48" x 56" window (Marvin); AND existing partial walls on either side of desk and pantry being removed for new cabinetry.


My question is - do these numbers sound reasonble? Also, am I overimproving if I spend $180,000 for a kitchen remodel on a $700,000 house? I'm not sure if this has any bearing, but our home is on the low end in our development. Homes range from the high $600's to high $900's.

I searched the NKBA website to find the recommended kitchen remodel cost to home value ratio. I remember reading something about that, but I was unable to find it. Does anyone know what that formula is?

**HereÂs another wrinkle** The KD told me that he was at the point of his "retainage" where he could go no further unless I gave him a deposit for the cabinets. I was too stunned to ask what exactly that meant. Could he possibly mean that I need to put a deposit on the cabs before he will make adjustments to the drawings to get closer to the original budget?

I paid him $1500 upfront for the design. (He's the owner of a design/build firm) We worked together as follows:

Meeting #1-@ my home, introductory meeting; I gave him check for $1500 to put together a design.

Meeting #2- @ my home to survey

Meeting #3-@ showroom, used CAD

Meeting #4-@ my home, KD brought the GC over for me to meet

Meeting#5-@ showroom, CAD

Meeting #6-@ showroom, CAD

Meeting #7-@ showroom, he presented the numbers and gave me the custom stained door sample

After our last meeting, the KD said he would reevaluate the carpentry detailing for the island to see where he could make changes to bring down the cost.

he link below is to the drawings IÂve received thus far. The KD said he would clean them up and fill in dimensions, etc I expect I will get the "final" plans at the same time I get the estimate.

Any opinions on how to deal with the budget overage and the KD who apparently wants a deposit on the cabinets before he will go further, would be most welcome and greatly appreciated.

Comments (146)

  • sjerin
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I think that's a swell idea, as long as you're clear in your head what you want to say to him, and will be able to make clear to him what YOUR bottom line is. He also needs to be told that he "done you wrong", and that you were too stunned previously to deal with his dishonesty, (for that is what it was.) I'm so impressed by the graceful way you've handled all the comments and hope you find a good resolution, one way or another. And please, don't let him use any time-pressure tactics to get you to sign! (Btw, I somehow feel that taking hubby with you makes you look more like a helpless female, since you already have an arrangement that you're both happy with.)

  • rmkitchen
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well, I think you are pretty remarkable. You have been handling this terrifically well and not being hasty about ANY decisions.

    I think our GC is wonderful, and the way we found him was through our painter. I didn't (still don't) know lots of people here who've done extensive remodeling so, like you, I was unsure how to get some good, honest referrals.

    Luckily through our realtor we had our painter, whom I greatly like and trust. I asked him for some thoughts re: GCs and that's how I came to where we are. Of course I still did my homework: asked to speak with and see other projects he'd done, similar and dissimilar in scope to ours; checked with the BBB and state licensing board. But in my gut, I felt as if he would really be the right choice for us.

    So if your friends and neighbors haven't done similar work, think about other tradespeople you've had in your home. Maybe they're also subs for GCs. Ask them for referrals.

    And by the way, I totally know what you mean about going over-the-top for your enjoyment. I think that's a v. wise choice, to know that you're doing it for yourselves, not for show-off-y or resale reasons.

    Just think how great it'll be when you get to show your finished kitchen pictures here on GW, so everyone who rooted you on will know how you did.

    Good luck!

  • hammerl
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Let me premise this by saying I intend to do my remodel for under $18,000 on my 1,750 square foot home that has a resale value of $160K - $180K max, I'm stuck functioning as my own KD, took advantage of any free design offers from places because of my pathetic budget, and had to scale back plans due to an inability to afford moving pipes. I'm keeping the wood floor and replacing cabs, sink, appliances, counters. Clearly your kitchen is going to be far more expensive than mine (which will have granite counters, a refinished hardwood floor, and either semicustom cabinets or custom amish depending on my final choice. That said...

    Your KD went so far out of budget that you won't be able to handle any problems that are sure to come up. Just in the little time I've been working on my plans, I've learned that the pipes would have needed to be moved to carry off part of my original plans ($$), that I need electrical for some of it ($$), and I expect I'm not out of the woods yet.

    My costs from one place to another for similar cabinets have sometimes been almost double. I'd certainly think it reasonable at this stage to take your plans (you paid for 'em), check out a few other KDs, see what they say.

    You may not think you have a lot of extras, but you have a lot of high-end. It seems the cabinetry is a big part of your budget overrun. Have you looked at similar cabinets to see if there's a possible savings, maybe one that doesn't require custom legs or something? My cabinetry options have ranged wildly across the board, with my current top two picks being a dark stained maple semicustom and a cherry custom for the same cost. (You pick your battles. I wanted no MDF cabinetry, I wanted classic cabinetry that would look good for years, and I wanted it to fit the budget. I can get 3/4" ply 13/16" cherry face custom for about the same as 3/8" semicustom 12/16" maple if I take an 80 mile drive and negotiate transport back home for the cabinets. I'm a sucker for the grain in cherry and kind of like the idea of cabinets that will outlive me. Guess which way I'm leaning?)

    You may also look at alternatives to the zebrawood. It's pretty (hey, a girl can dream when she's shopping on her shoestring budget, I've seen and drooled over it ;) ), but perhaps there's an alternative that would work in the space for less cost? Tweaking one or two items might bring it in line. But if you do that, let your KD take a whack at trimming the budget back within your stated guidelines. Unless he intends to pay the difference, it's not what you asked for. Do NOT give him a deposit. If he hasn't listened to you yet, why pay him to ignore what you say?

    And another KD might have an altogether different quote on something like the marble countertops. I have a quote that's over $200 less (hey, my budget is tiny, so that's a lot for me!) by a highly reputable marble/granite place where I live for my granite than my original quote that supposedly gave me a "good deal" through purchasing from the cabinetry guy. In fact, I trust the place with the lower quote to do the job better than the original quote. The granite was thicker and had the same edging and finish, and they've done work in multi-million dollar buildings. They can sure tackle my 1960's colonial!

    Good luck. I know I can't wait until I'm finished with mine, and yours sounds like an infinitely larger, more difficult project.

  • sholland
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Can you email him?

    I'd email something like:
    "Dear __:
    I had been under the impression that we had discussed a kitchen with a budget of $125,000, and that you had said you were always mindful of my budget. I was shocked to be presented with a budget of $180,000.

    Can you explain why you have increased my budget by $55,000?


    Young Woman"

  • holligator
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I'm so glad you weren't offended! I'm also glad that you are seeing the possibility that he is being intentionally deceptive. In rereading my previous post, it occurred to me that it may have been too strongly worded. When I said, "It was clear and intentional deception," I probably should have said that it looked like intentional deception. I will admit that there is a possibility that he's not the slimeball I've made him out to be, so don't throw him out based on what I said. ;-)

    At this point, I think you need to decide whether he's worth the effort to make things right. You clearly love the design, but as others have said, there are plenty of people who can implement a good design. Will you be able to trust him at this point? That's something only you can decide.

    Here's what I would say to him: "Mr. KD, when we began this process, I explicitly told you that my budget was $125,000. Regrettably, I later also told you that my limit was $150,000, and that the difference was to cover unexpected cost overruns, not planned items. You brought me a proposal that was 45%--yes, 45%!!--over my budget, and I am, quite frankly, outraged and offended. I'm outraged because you would let me get this far in the process without warning me that I was already over budget with my choices, and in fact, you repeatedly assured me that I was not. I'm offended that you would have so little respect for the financial boundaries I set very clearly at the beginning of the process. This situation has made me extremely uncomfortable, to say the least. I felt that we had a better working relationship than this."

    At this point, you will have made him either feel bad for having gotten carried away with your design or defensive because he has been caught in his deceptive practices. My next steps would depend on his reaction.

    If he is apologetic, the next part would depend on whether you wanted to give him a chance to redeem himself. Because it sounds like you might, here's where I would go next: "Obviously, I love the design, and I think the end product would be wonderful. My first instinct after our last meeting was to find someone else to implement the plan. However, because this episode seemed so out of character for what I know of you, I've decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. If you are willing to continue working until you get this design into my original budget of $125,000, I'm willing to stick with you and give you that chance. Where do we go from here?"

    If he gets defensive, and you decide you don't want to give him another chance, I would just say: "I love the design, and I think the end product would be wonderful. Unfortunately, I no longer feel I can trust you to have my best interests in mind, so I will have to find someone else to implement it."

    No matter what, it should be clear to him that you aren't paying him another dime until you get what you've already paid for: an agreeable design that can be implemented within your budget.

    I hope things work out well for you!

  • holligator
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    OK, that was pretty much a really wordy version of what sholland said above! LOL!

  • goutgrec
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "Goutgrec wrote: "I think putting a $150k kitchen in a $700,000 house is not the smartest move these days given what's going on in the real estate market."
    -Possibly, but $150K is only slightly above the maximum guidelines (10-20% of house value) and I'm not doing this to get my money back. I'm doing it because the kitchen is the heart of our home and we are homebodies and we want a fabulous kitchen. We almost never entertain, so it's not like we're doing it for show, it's just for us to enjoy for the next 10 years or so."

    Talia -- you owe me no explanation. I was not criticizing the budget. I'm just conservative and feel one must be careful in this market.

    But realistically, budgets are estimates. I always build in an additional 20%. So if you want to spend $150,000 tops, then subtract 20% and that's the number to my way of thinking. Of course you may not agree or not be as conservative in that area.

    Re the KD. Before I assume something terrible, I'd speak to him. As him what he was thinking. At least give him a chance to address the issue. His choice of phrases was most unfortunate (and perhaps there is a con but you'll find out).

    OTOH, it might be ok. If I were in his shoes, however, I would also want a commitment or I would walk away. I would definitely ask him to cut out the amount that needs to be cut and see what happens.

  • jb1176
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I can't believe there are 105 responses so far to this OP. Amazing!!! I'll leave it at that.

  • bob_cville
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    First off, I'd like to apologize if what I wrote before, and more importantly what I'm writing here sounds harsh. None of us here knows anything about you, or your situation, or your interactions with your KD, apart from a few dozen paragraphs of text above. So each of us here is reading what you've written here, and filling in the rest from our own experiences or our imaginations. I view this forum as a group of friends, or at least a group of compatriots with a common goal: makin' mo' better kitchens.

    I don't think you are a gullible mark, I definitely think the KD sees you as a gullible mark to be squeezed for as much as he can. I don't think he's a conman, if you proceed forward with him you will, in all likelyhood, end up with a beautiful kitchen (albeit for significantly more than you want to spend), but he is a snake of a salesman who has demonstrated a willingness to lie to your face and use flattery to get more of your money.

    I don't expect a salesperson to be paternalistic. I don't expect a business person to try to lose money on a deal. I do expect myself to do enough research to make sure that I'm not the windfall profit that makes up for all the other lower-margin deals he has. Which it seems you are starting to do here (the research not being the windfall profit)

    Buying cabinets is especially tricky. You will never know how much it costs QCC to make your cabinets, nor how much they cost for the KD to buy from QCC. It's like buying a car where your never allowed to even look at the MSRP sticker on the car, and the salesman just gets to make up a price on the spot, based on how much he thinks he can squeeze out of you.

    Many people here seem to feel that if they were in a situation as you have described, they would drop the KD and go elsewhere. I would. I did. When a GC I was planning on using came in with a $98000 bid (not counting appliances) when I told him my budget was $65000 including appliances, I thanked him for his time and effort in putting together the bid, and said goodbye.

    I really do wish you all the best for your remodel, and hope you'll keep us up to date here, and more importantly show us pictures of the eventual result.


  • gizmonike
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    We walked too, even though the cabinet line was the inspiration not only for our kitchen but for the wood look in our entire house. There was just too much money between the final quote to their initial ballpark amount. I had always assumed that custom would be even more expensive, & then I found this forum. We did additional research & got fixed-fee bids from 2 very competent custom cabinet makers for far less than our original budget. Our kitchen is finished & we are thrilled with it. I believe we have far better cabinets for our space than if we had proceeded with the original maker's rigid & expensive system choices. Moral of this story: do not be married to any maker or supplier, as you may be able to do considerably better.

  • elljays
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I too would encourage you to check out a custom cabinetmaker, instead of a national brand of custom cabinets. Take your plans and a picture of the cabinets you want to varous cabinetmakers and just see what they can do. We were pleasantly surprised at how affordable they were. And while QCC are lovely cabinets, you can probably find the equivalent without having to pay a dealer's mark-up. It was also fun to be able to stop in and see the cabinets in the process of being made.

  • rgillman
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Like Gibby, I went with an independent KD who was terrific! She charged me $1200 for design and plans so detailed I could go to any kitchen place and get exact quotes. Lemme tell ya - she has earned every penny! She worked with me till we were both happy with the plans - and did unlimited versions on the way.

    I had already had two unsatisfactory experiences with kitchen places that sold cabinets and allegedly designed kitchens. They were so busy selling cabinets that they did not listen when I told them what I wanted.

    I bought from a place that just sells cabinets and am getting cherry custom cabs for $17,000 for my 11x22 kitchen. Adelphi cabinets - all plywood boxes, blumotion drawers & doors, 15" spice pullout, 2 deep file drawers, etc. etc. etc. included. My KD met with the cabinet guy and me and we spent 3 hours finalizing plans for the cabinet order. No extra charge for her time. I am meeting with her again tomorrow to go over lighting issues and a couple of other details for the contractor. And she will order lights/hardware for me at her cost.

    I had an estimate from another custom place for $28,000 - and that was ballpark, not specific or detailed.

    Tell this guy to take a hike - you can modify the cost yourself - just keep shopping. And good luck!

  • bignich
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I will give you my take as the are a couple of simularities in our situations. We are in a home worth in the $800k range and are nearly finished with a kitcken remodel.

    1)your KD estimate of $180K can easily end up at $250K or much more before everything is done. This is way too much for a $700K home.

    2) $80k for kitchen cabinets will fatten your KDs wallet and your ego, not much more. You can find excellent and high quality for 20%-40% of that if you look around.

    3) It's often the little things in large projects that ultimately give us the most satisfaction. Get the pot filler and warming tray.

    4) With a $125k budget, you should shoot for $75k, which will allow for cost over runs, changes and upgrades. This is a more realistic figure for the value of your home.

    5) I think your KD has $$$ signs in his eyes and is looking out for his financial gain first and formost. Look for someone that doesn't have a financial interest in what is used or chosen but will offer realistic ideas and suggestions based on what you can afford.

    6) My wife of 32 years and I did all the demolition and labor ourselves with the exception of the countertops. She is estatic with the results and keeps saying over and over how thrilled she is with everything. She removed 500 square feet of ceramic floor tile chipping away with hammer and chisel until her hands were raw. She also helped lay and grout 500' of slate look porcelain tile, unscrewed and pried off old counters and cut in with a paint brush while I rolled. Helped me install new appliances, was my assistant in plumbing and electrical. We saved tens of thousands and did a fun and very rewarding project together.

  • taliaferro
    Original Author
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Awww, sholland & holligator, you drafted a letter for me!! I'm so grateful. Actually I'm grateful for everyone's very thoughtful and generous advice.

    frankie in zone 7: Am I reluctant to walk away? YES. You see, I was geared to start in March and be back in my kitchen before summer. Dumping my KD would be a setback and everything gets thrown out of whack, including our summer plans and so on.

    On the bright side, in looking back, I now see that I DID SO MANY THINGS WRONG. I thought it would work out best if I didn't play games and just told the KD how much I was willing to spend. To my detriment, I showed the KD my entire hand. At the time, I viewed him primarily as a designer, not a salesman. I now believe there is a conflict of interest when the person designing your kitchen is trying to sell you their cabinets. Needless to say, I have learned quite a bit since I started.

    I can always look back at my first experience as a dry run. Whatever direction this thing takes, I feel better equipped and more confident, having the benefit of you lovely gardenwebbers as dream CONSULTANTS;)

    Promise to keep you posted!

    ::HUGS TO ALL::

  • lyfia
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    taliaferro - just wanted to say I'm glad you have such a great attitude - you will need it with the re-model too so this was probably good practice.

  • igloochic
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I am glad that you've found a path to travel on towards your gorgeous kitchen. I did want to add something...if it's at all of interest to you.

    I'm doing a "dream" kitchen similar to yours I'd say, only I am getting ALL the goodies, because I did a great deal of the shopping myself. I have that same Franke sink...mine was $1000 aprox...I purchased it via Ebay. My $2500 faucet was $1,200 ebay, I'm using a custom cabinet company (Omega Custom) and have every upgrade possible, and at retail I'm above your figure, so that didn't seem bad to me, (I also have two small bathrooms in that figure and was given a designer discount). But what I did end up with was a prep sink, pot filler, warming drawer, pretty much everything you left out, and some pretty darned fancy knobs :) all for about $150,000 (not quite done yet). I had major structural work done and a huge amount of plumbing and electric which added to the budget immensely, but, you only do this once, so when the ceilings are open, well that's the time.

    I don't know how much you want to work on the pricing issue, but I did learn that the design/build firms were about double in cost, with less options (for instance I could get a Cornue Fe like yours, but not a Lacanche, because they only made money on Cornue Fe). I also wouldn't have ended up with antique lighting, nor my fabulous knobs or hand made crackle backsplash...and the kitchen alone through them was closer to $220 or more.

    Instead I went with a GC, (I am doing no work myself because I'm not interested in doing that and dealing with a sick 2 year old!) and I purchased all of my materials, from the faucets to the knobs to the sinks...wandered the granite yards, etc. It was fun, took longer, but was well worth it! And My KD (I did my own design and she tweeked) charged nothing for her services because I'd done the design, and she was selling me the cabinets. She's the top designer in our state so I was willing to pay a fee but she's also terribly honest and didn't feel she needed one over the money she'll make on her cabinets I guess, which is something to say for her ethics :) She also helped me out when the job stalled and found me another GC who's wonderful. And she still hasn't asked for half of the price to do any more work...

    She won't take cash until I order the cabinets (next week since we're heading to the hospital this week). I know you like your guy...but I just wanted to share my experience because frankly, I think you might want to step back from the design for a bit and think about it. I pay quite a bit more for everything in Alaska, and yet I got a better range than yours, and ALL the bells and whistles by not going the design/build route. You might think about it...because you're doing a fabulous kitchen, and I think you'll be sorry down the road that you left a few of those out just to work with this guy....

    But whatever you do...share it with us in pictures!!! And have fun!

  • mlynch357
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    This is my first time posting here, although I've lurked a while, so forgive me if I seem off-base. I'll be starting a similar thread here soon. I have a couple of thoughts. First, if I understand correctly, he's not really just a kitchen designer. He's really a GC or Design-Build firm, right? I mean, his crew is going to do the work, right?

    Second, everyone seems to be offering ideas for how *you* can scale back *your* kitchen to fit within a budget. What about the GC's overhead and profit on the deal? Why is nobody talking about that? Are people really negotiating deals without asking for a concession on OH&P? Here's how I see the cost structure of the deal:

    -Cost of materials (cabs, appliances, tile, fixtures, construx materials) from manufacturer
    -Cost of suppliers' markups on materials
    -Cost of subcontractors
    -Cost of GC's markups on subcontractor labor

    You have some control over the complexity of the work required and the cabs/appliances and it sounds like you've already made some concessions there (cutting out some luxuries and some things that probably are wasteful). Now it's time to look at the suppliers' markups, the subcontractors' pricing and the GC's markups. For instance, presumably your KD/GC has a plumber that he's asked "how much to do the plumbing in this kitchen?" and gotten a number. Do you really think that number is the absolute lowest number the plumber would get out of bed and do the job for? Or do you think a GC that's worked with the plumber on a bunch of jobs (and more in the future) could go back and say "Look, Bill, this lady on the Maple Lane job is really squeezing me where the sun don't shine. I need you to gimme a better number on the plumbing over there."? And the same with the carpenters, electricians, HVAC guys and materials/fixtures suppliers. Finally, once all that is done, there's his big, fat GC fee to cut into. What's the minimum # he's willing to GC the job for? Do you think $180k reflects the thinnest margin he's willing to get out of bed and work for? I doubt it. Bottom line, there's a half-dozen people looking to make money off this deal and *nobody* makes *anything* if the deal doesn't get done.

    Another part of this is that home values are stagnant or falling almost everywhere (U.S.). This affects the amounts lenders are willing to lend against an asset, both in terms of the valuation they'll put on the asset and the % of that value they will lend to. That is affecting the total dollars available out there for renovation projects. The last place this will make itself evident is in the actual home renovation market and corrections of this type are slow to manifest themselves. Yet, that is exactly what needs to happen. These guys have gotten used to a pretty plush life over the past decade, as ever-rising home prices have financed everything from homeowner renovations to flip-o-vations. Hell, any lender would lend you anything you wanted for any project and everybody, your neighbors included, was taking them up on it. Expectations on the contractor end of the market need to be revised downwards and the only way that is going to happen is if the customers start saying "Look, I can't pay this for this renovation and I'm not willing to do the project at all if it's not going to turn out to a level that really makes me happy. You're asking me to spend a huge sum of money that I'll be (presumably) paying back for the rest of my working life". And your exposure is probably actually 10% greater than $180k because they typically only guarantee pricing to +/-10%. These guys have gotten very used to pricing jobs based on the value of the homes and their perception of homeoners' ability to pay. I note that your guy's quote is 20% of the value of your home, plus another 5% for kicks (maybe the lady takes that 5% back, maybe she leaves it on the table and I keep it).

    The way I see it, the fairytale has ended and the last guys to realize it are the contractors...and they're only going to realize it by hearing it from the homeowners. That's how I see it.

  • teedup1
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Here's the way I figure "analyzing" GC bids for a job (with identical requirements): simply, if a bidder quotes higher than I want to pay, bidder doesn't get the job.

    If one wants to call somebody on the carpet for product/material mark ups, kick backs, trade labor rates, profit margins, along with the state of the economy, don't ask for bids...do your own GC'ing.

  • paul_ma
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago


    What you say sounds good in practice. My experience so far (in MA) has been that the contractors don't yet seem a bit hungry. I found it difficult to get people to talk to me at all, or be willing to do the work, even without haggling on the price. I'm ending up paying more that I probably should, but the GC I have ended up with is *good* and I am to the point (three years and counting) when I just want to get the job *done*.

  • mlynch357
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Teedup, I'm not suggesting that I particularly care about who gets what markup, I'm just suggesting that the GC has certain tools at his disposal to work the price down *on his side* and not through cutbacks on the homeowner's side.

    "I am to the point (three years and counting) when I just want to get the job *done*."

    I understand the feeling, and I feel the same way, but that's kinda what they count on. Btw, you're at about $450/ft for this job.

  • sue36
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The OP asked if $180k is too much to spend on a house worth $700k. The answer to this might be somewhat regional. If the OP lives somewhere where land is cheap and a $700k house is high-end, then there may be certain things expected in the kitchen (such as the SubZero) that wouldn't be expected in a house closer to the average. However, in many places in the U.S., including where I am, a $700k house is not at the high end. In that case, you can get away with (and buyers would be expecting) something more scaled down.

    My kitchen is slightly larger than the OP's will be, and my house is worth a more than the OP's, and I cannot in a million years imagine spending $180k on a kitchen and mudroom. Now, if the OP will live in this house for the rest of her life, and she has the money to burn, then it doesn't matter. But spending $180k (or even $150k) is WAY over improving, IMO.

    You can get a very, very nice kitchen and mudroom for $100k. I wouldn't spend more than that. I think the "guidelines" are BS. They are created by contractors, KDs, etc., with a vested interest in people spending as much as possible.

    I would get a new KD and start over. Find a designer who doesn't sell cabinets, or someone who actually cares about budget. LIE about your budget. Whatever you want to spend, at the design phase tell them 30% less. The design will likely come in a little high (if it doesn't you can always add in a few more details the KD left out to stay on budget). That leaves you a buffer for issues during construction. It will creep up, believe me. There are always extras once they open the walls.

  • taliaferro
    Original Author
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago


    Here's an update on my situation:

    OUT OF THE BLUE, my KD sent me this email. Mind you, it was two weeks after our last meeting, but a few days after my last posting (December 4th-9th) on this thread (my first impression was that he read this thread!!):
    [December 11,2007]
    Hi [Taliaferro],

    I felt that I wasn't crystal clear about how things proceed from this point. It is my intention to continue to crunch numbers and try to trim the cabinetry costs to help get closer to your target budget. There does not seem to be a rush to do that however until we get firm numbers from [GC]. When those numbers come in, I will schedule a meeting and I will have the revised cabinetry details. Regarding the budget that we discussed , the only cost that I have any control over is the cabinetry and frankly before I even took your retainer, I estimated the cabinetry as 80k and we are below that number. Even though the cabinetry is a big number, we sell Quality at a very competitive rate . The only way to radically reduce the cabinetry costs is to revise the design and to revise the design I would have to start from scratch. There are, however, several ways that we can possibly get closer to the target number with out starting from scratch.

    Although I don't recommend this, some client's do provide their own countertops. The builder or [KD's firm] can provide "supervision" for the template and the installation.

    Even though [the GC] number's are not yet firm and still based on my educated guess, you are not locked into using his company or any builder that we recommend for that matter . I happen to feel that [GC] is a very good fit for you and that is why I recommended him. If you would like, after we receive [GC's] bid, I can have another contractor submit a bid or you can find a contractor on your own and we can supply the cabinet installation. We can proceed at whatever pace you feel comfotable with. There is no rush. The only thing hanging out there is a Quality price increase of 3.5% on orders shipped after March 31st. Right now they are booked through the end of January so we have some time.

    I would love to work with you and I look forward to meeting to go over the numbers again with [GC's] estimate. I will email [GC] and inquire as to the timing.


    HERE IS MY REPLY (thanks gardenwebbers, I borrowed liberally from your suggestions!):

    [December 14,2007]

    Hi [KD],

    I didnt realize we were on hold. It was my understanding, following our meeting two weeks ago, that you would work on trimming the cabinetry costs. You had specifically referred to eliminating a labor intensive decorative feature on the island and also eliminating some provisions you had made for shop (vs. on site) assembly/finishing for the cabinetry. Im not clear why this should be delayed until firm numbers from [the GC] come in. It was my understanding that [the GC] had nothing to do with the installation of the cabinets. Am I mistaken?

    I was also surprised to receive a phone call from [GC] yesterday inquiring (in a roundabout way) whether I still wanted to go forward with the electricians visit tomorrow (Friday). I assume you told him that the budget overage might be a problem. I agreed to hold off on that visit until I had a chance to respond to your email.

    Firstly, I admit I was a bit shocked during our last meeting because I was not expecting a number close to $180,000. Please look at the circumstances from my perspective. My budget numbers have not changed. Theyve always been $125,000-$150,000. During the design phase over these past six months, you have green lighted my selections and I assumed that meant my choices were within my budget. In fact, concerned that I might be pushing the limits of my budget, we had a telephone conversation in October where I asked you whether you were mindful of my budget. Your response: "Always". You further indicated that we were well within my budget parameters and that I would be "pleasantly surprised." Mind you, this was before the custom island legs and premium wood/custom stain came into the picture, which understandably increased costs.

    I realize that, although this is a set back and may delay the project, it is not all that unusual and the next step would be to start cutting costs. You state that reducing the cabinetry costs would require a redesign or "starting from scratch." Would it really?

    In addition to eliminating the hidden bells and whistles on the island that you mentioned during our last meeting, I thought of a few adjustments/revisions to cut costs, which would not require starting all over.

    ***Eliminate the cabinetry created to house the microwave. It really doesnt make sense to create another bank of cabs with a countertop and backsplash to house a $200 microwave. The cabinetry under the island should be reworked to accommodate the microwave. There should be some way to fit a microwave in a 10 island. If the apron is the problem, why not make the apron and cabs (on the prep side) flush? Also, Im sure I could do without all that storage under the island.

    ***Eliminate the message center - which includes the zebrawood counter and the cabinetry underneath it. The run of cabinets on that window wall can end exactly where it does now without involving the pony wall at all. (This would also create a savings on the labor costs. While here, [GC] mentioned the need to make that pony wall plumb and repaint the entire family room side of that wall.)

    ***Nix the premium wood/custom stain and glaze and choose one of QCCs standard stains, thus eliminating the upcharge.

    ***Order my own appliances and fittings, thus saving the upcharge. Im sure the prices you quoted are retail and I can do better if I shop around.

    I need a plan that specs out within my budget parameters. I am concerned that we are substantially over budget and the dust hasnt even started, and I need to factor in a probable 10% creep upwards in costs when it does. According to all the guidelines, given the value of my home, I should not be spending more than $140,000 for the project as a whole. I am okay with overspending slightly, but I dont want to be stupid about it.


    [December 17, 2007]

    Hi [Taliaferro],
    I read through your email and I am in the process of going through the drawings and making the suggested changes. I will send you drawings for your feed back ASAP.

    ....That's it, and I'm still waiting. Just some impressions from this exchange. His counterply seems very terse and dismissive. (Am I reading too much into it?) I raised quite a few issues in my email and he did not acknowledge any of them. Is this thing dead, and I'm just too blind to read between the lines? How long do I wait for him to make the suggested changes? I still need updated Drawings (hopefully with specs) that I paid for in order to shop them around elsewhere. How do ya'll read this latest development?

  • antss
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ugh, I read it as he is altering the drawings to reflect your suggested cuts. I assume, though he didn't specifically say, he'll revise the #'s too and let you know.

    To address point by point your long message in a followup email is just rehashing the conservation. He can read the mail, adjust the CAD file, read the mail adjust the file ect....

    I am getting the distinct feeling that this relationship is broken. Even if he comes back on budget with the changes, you still won't feel warm and fuzzy with him. The reelationship will not get better. The honeymoon hasn't begun, you aren't happy. What'll you suppose it will be like when it's over?

    I am fuzzy on exactly whether or not you are going to get drawings to shop. I know people have suggested that you paid 1500 bucks so yes. I have posted that that is not always the case. I cannot recall what you and more importantly the designer said re: this issue.

  • plllog
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well, it could just be a "Nuts, I thought I had a live one and now I have to work" message. But he probably doesn't want to lose the sale entirely :)

    You can always send a breezy reply thanking him for making your changes, and asking him if the new drawings will by done by xyz date. :)

  • lascatx
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Could also just ba a "I'll get to work on it" reply and nothing more. You told him what you wanted. If he came back with a long reply, wouldn't he risk being argumentative? I'd wait and see what he comes back with before writing him off. I did not like what our KD originally had drawn for us. She made a lot of changes to what we gave her and most were things we had done for a reason. She listened though and we were able to go back and forth ans talk about why things worked or didn't and what the trade-offs were. She got the job because she listened and respected our opinions, yet she wasn't afraid to suggest or question. See if your guy is listening before you give up.

  • socalthreems
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well, if it were me I probably would have immediately assumed that he was being terse, HOWEVER, as an independent observer it sounds like he realizes he needs to get to work to save your business and perhaps realizes that sometimes the fewer words spoken, the better.

    Even so, as the others said, it might not be enough for the working relationship. Things always get more tense once construction begins. When stuff inevitably happens, will you be more apt to become irritable with him because of all of this, or will you be able to put it behind you and move forward? Likewise with him - can he do the same? Some people are great at doing that - wiping the slate clean, others not so much.

    Please keep us posted, as I'm sure we are all interested in knowing what he comes back with and if your changes make a significant dent in the pricing.

  • weedyacres
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I don't interpret his reply as terse or or dismissive, just informative.

    BUT, I do think you were too soft on him, expressed "shock" instead of "displeasure," and are being too waffly with your budget. You're telling him you're willing to go over budget????? And you don't sound at all like you're considering going elsewhere. That would light a fire under him to get the lard out.

    Please don't let the "prices go up in March" or your not wanting to "start over" go ahead with this guy if he isn't meeting your needs. If his next round doesn't come up real close to $125K, get displeased, show a little exasperation, and tell him that if he can't design a kitchen that will meet your budget you'll have to find someone else who can. And, as we've said before, don't fork over any money until he's shown his ability to listen to you and your budget.

  • jy_md
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I didn't think the KD's email was out of line. I'm not sure what more you wanted him to write. He did say he would incorporate the changes you specified and get back to you.

    That said, some things come into my mind. The main one is that he may just not be the right KD for you. There seems to be a communication disconnect. Both seem to want a dialogue of sorts, but what happened to it? I know this is supposed to be the "final" drawing but from what I can see, final drawings take a lot of back and forth, even after they seem set in stone and priced out.

    The other thing - it seems like he is more comfortable or used to working with other designers rather than homeowners. He seems awfully shy offering options concerning your design - it that the way it usually works? I would think many homeowners need some guidance in terms of cost versus visual impact versus function. Things that go along the lines of that 'custom woodwork on the legs' versus stock. There has to be more than just one item. Maybe this is just another sign that the relationship isn't a good fit.

  • deegw
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The tone of his email reminded me a bit of my kids when they get "caught" at something and aren't quite ready to accept the blame.

    I think he is also disappointed that he doesn't have the blank check to work with that he thought he had.

    I have to agree that you are being confusing about the budget. Honestly, based on your posts I'm not quite sure what you actually want to spend. We know the $180k is too high. Other than that you seem to be throwing around a lot of different numbers. $125k, $140k, $150k???

  • sherilynn
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Antss is right. This relationship is broken. Civility is all you're going to get from him now.

    Knowing that I've walked in your shoes, I know EXACTLY what I would do ... and I'm going to share.

    1. IF you like the original design, then I would get all numbers from anyone that you've talked to about this job: electrician, GC, plumber, etc.

    2. I would take the designs that you posted and start TODAY shopping estimates from other cabinet companies. YOU already posses the design. The work is done. Having "blue prints" is nothing right now. The GC already has what you need, as does the plumber and electrician. Everyone else can work off a drawing and their own measurements. They SHOULD if they're smart.

    3. Plus, any other cabinet maker that you go to is going to recreate your design using their own softwareso they can put their own specs and proof ordering. PLUS they're going to want their own measurements.

    4. The GC is just that: HE should be responsible for overseeing the entire project. IF you are not ready with the cabinets, you could still have him start on your kitchen when it's appropriate. Just tell him that things are on hold for the time being if you have to wait on a new cabinet order.

    5. This IS the way you want to handle this project. The last thing you need is a GC 'beholden' to a KD for getting him this job and trying to please you, too. Think of it as a separation of powers...and you are the one now holding the scales of fairness and accountability.

    6. AGAIN: The GC will handle the project, you need to make triple sure that you handle and supervise ever aspect of your cabinets and templating of your counter tops, template layout on the granite (if you're using granite), and installation. Your GC can tell you if you're being unrealistic or not about your expectations during install, etc.

    7. To the present KD that did the design that he was paid to do, if he is reading this, I would like him to hear what I tell my children. "If you lie, cheat, steal, do sloppy work on a project, are apathetic, or a jerk you can never take back the impressions that you leave with someone about who you really are in your heart on any given day. Attitude is worth EVERYTHING: give away your best attitude, efforts, smiles, and time with good intentions and expect no payment in return; however, make no mistake, these least expensive investments are opportunities that will flabbergast all and the rate of return will be phenomenal. Let no man doubt that you are 100% genuine, honest, and caring. If someone rejects you, then that is his or her loss. Be humble and thankful for all opportunities (or people sent your way), because sometimes you get only ONE chance to do the right thing."

    8. Taliaferro: the people you do business with can all be very nice and professional. Right now, you could make this 'date' with this KD work. YOU could force this relationship and use him anyway. But I ask you, WHY would you at this point? Is he that clever? Is he that charming? HOWEVER, I can promise you this: you will be a very unhappy individual during this stressful process. You received cordial emails that you are being handled and he is trying to validate his position and blaming someone else for the delay. He accepted no responsibility for the issue at hand. Whoopee. IF, I believed that the KD read this thread, then I would have expected a phone call -Vs- a written statement.

    9. How many times have you written and edited out your true feelings in an email? I know I have. I have given terse emails to my DH to read or DD and edited out the smut so I did not completely sound like an arse. This relationship is doomed. There will be stresses unbelievable and your KD has done as you have, softened your tone to not alienate or be rude. Nevertheless, experience says that your KD will want to tell you off at some point and is trying to come across as very professional; and he will be telling the GC what a PITA you are before you get 100 hours into the remodel. This will not be pretty for either of you. You need to just end it. He was giving you an out. Take it, because you will now be exploited if you stay in this relationship. HE KNOWS he was out of line and did NOT CARE about the parameters that you gave him. He has now seen your thoughts and criticisms on paper. He has lost your trust and respect and he KNOWS he cannot get it back. ALL he is trying to do now is just try to smooth things over so you will make the cabinet order so he can get his BIG commission.

    10. Plus, when emotions get into it and you find that he has lost interest in your project and will not really care, then you will know we were right. He already got a load of $$ for a design that he would have HAD to do to sell cabinets ANYWAY! When you place your cabinet order, then you will then know that he will get his commission on the sale AND that he got from you all he wanted. His obligation to you will really over from that point forward. You will have to deal with the installers anyway. Believe me, no matter what, you will be managing a lot of the project yourself. You just need a house sitter for when people are in your home working.

    11. YOU OWN THOSE KITCHEN DESIGNS. Take them to someone else who may tweak them and then you will find yourself even happier that you switched cabinet companies.

    12. If this is a remodel, then YOU ARE THE BUILDER. The GC, should be just that, a GC. Let him handle the contractors. There is NO WAY that you can be totally hands off this project just because you have small children. You live in that house and it is YOUR responsibility to be there anyway to supervise and secure the contents of your home so that they do not walk off or destroyed. If you do not, you will be sorry. You are now educated on what the process is for the most part and you have a great group of people here to advise you from making costly mistakes. I just do not want you to end up like I did and find yourself finishing your kitchen in 2 years yourself. It is really hard to get someone to come in and finish up or take over someone elses work because they all know that it could end up in a lawsuit and no one wants to end up in court.

  • oofasis
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    (Applauding the wisdom in Sherilyn's response)

    I think Sherilyn got every nail right on its head. Taliaferro, I'm so sorry for the stress and disappointment this experience has caused you. We're all so passionate about the desired outcomes of our kitchen remodels, and I think you're only headed for a heart-breaking miscarriage of your dreams (and budget) if you stick with this KD. I hope you'll take your self-respect AND YOUR DESIGN and shop it elsewhere. Please don't let the time it'll take to shop out your design deter you. In the long run, it'll be the best decision you could make.

    Whatever you choose, it's obvious from the number of responses your thread has elicited that we're all interested in the outcome. Please let us know.

  • loves2cook4six
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I tried to read most of the thread and I think what's really holding you back is your desire to see the project finished by the summer.

    Without a doubt in my mind, this will NEVER happen, even if you start tomorrow. So why not relax and plan to start when your summer plans are finished. I assume they don't include the kitchen as you said you don't entertain.

    That way you let yourself off the HURRY UP AND GET IT DONE and the KD HAS ALREADY DONE SO MUCH WHY HAVE SOMEONE ELSE REWORK IT hooks and can get the kitchen you really want at a price you can afford and with much less stress both during design and during the demo/reconstruction phases.

    Igloochic and others have done amazing kitchens for less because we have given ourselves the gift of time allowing us to source out fabulous "stuff" at bargain prices.

  • davewg
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have to agree too.

    I've said it before in this thread, there are too many good contractors, KDs out there to stick with one where the relationship is not a good one.

    Don't kid yourself - this relationship is not a good one. I can see from the implied tone of your posts that you are trying to stick with this KD because you want QCC or feel some sense of obligation to this guy (which in my mind ended when your paid the $1500) and his crew(s). I think this is partly where the "waffling" about your budget comes from. You in your heart want to stay with this guy, but your mind knows that proceeding with this is a mistake. Why else your other thread on other good "factory" based custom kitchen cabinets????

    A kitchen remodel is a HUGE project and will disrupt a major portion of your home and life for a considerable amount of time. Among the first decisions are finding the right KD, design and contractors. We have been planning our kitchen remodel for the 3 years we've been living here and we finally are comforatable with the design, the scope of the addition and are ready to move ahead (in about 4 months we hope).

    We're also looking at, potentially, our third set of contractors and its not because we haven't had some good ones - we have. But we also found somone just as good for less money by keeping our ears open, questioning the costs and asking if there isn't a better way.

    I too would love it if our kitchen was complete already, but don't rush into it with this group because you want it done, want to start ASAP. This is NOT the hard part - the hard part comes after work starts and you have to live with the bed you've made with the people doing the heavy lifting. Not having a good relationship at the start with people who will be in and out of your home for months on end and with whom you will need to work with closely on a daily basis is a recipe for unhapiness and disaster.

    We didn't have a great relationship with our first guy (and he was recommened to us). It all came to a head one day when he stopped by to pick up his weekly check (forget about oversight of his subs) and got into a shouting match after which my then 5 year old asked "Mommy, why was that man yelling at you?"

    My point is - time is the only thing you have right now. Use it to find the best possible situation. In my mind, from everything that has been presented, this isn't it.

  • davewg
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ok, loves2cook4six basically said what I was trying to say, but in a lot less words........

  • loves2cook4six
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I also want to say I don't know where you live but I would seriously consider looking at a custom cabinet maker. Our cabinets were made out-of-state by an Amish cabinet company (who, BTW, deliver all over the country by truck!) and we have tons of bells and whistles in a 16 x14 kitchen and our cabinets cost less than half of your cabinet estimate and about 60% of similar 24" deep standard cabinets from HD. This is what we got:

    All new custom cabinets (slab doors) in 3 finishes (including maple, cherry and walnut) with mortise-and-tenon cabinet frames and French dovetailed, hand-fitted drawers and catalyzed hand wiped finishes. All cabinet backs are 1/2" and all shelves are 3/4"
    Nearly all drawers in the base cabinets except for corner units, under the sinks and trash. Drawer depths were 100% customizable to fit the contents. (HD could not accommodate this)
    Panels for the fridge, freezer and two dishwashers
    Two way trash pullout accessible from both sides of the island (HD could not accommodate this)
    Pullout pantry tower with toe kick release
    Angled pantry cabinet with two doors
    Angled base cabinet and angled upper display cabinet
    30" deep cabinets in the base and ALL the space is usable as custom made drawers go all the way back
    15" deep upper cabinets
    Spice drawer with "hidden drawers" above to maintain line of drawers visually
    Bread drawer with Plexiglas cover
    Glass inset doors on some of the uppers with glass shelves in those cabinets
    Wine glass rack in upper cabinet
    4 Toe kick drawers
    Custom-made can storage drawers
    Soft close Blum blumotion drawer guides on every drawer
    Soft close on all the doors
    5 Custom cherry/walnut intarsia doors
    2 Magic Corner II units
    2 tilt outs under sink
    Tray storage above ovens deep enough to hold trays in double depth
    Instead of a cabinet filler, I also have a small area 4" wide where I store a step stool. The door from the trash cabinet was made wider to cover this storage area.

    The KD from the Amish company worked with endless patience until we had EVERY detail worked out and even thought of some things that didn't cross my mind but could have caused additional charges during construction.

    I'm more than happy to give them a glowing reference: Ayr Cabinets out of Nappannee, Indiana.

  • teedup1
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    It's almost 3 weeks and 134 posts later and it appears no decision that coincides with your parameters is in sight.

    I fear for you when ordering and building actually does begin. The inevitable hiccups, delays, miscalculations, and misunderstandings will drive you over the edge. You bought and paid for a tool. Work with it to find someone you can feel more confident with.

  • live_wire_oak
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You can have a quality remodel. You can have a fast remodel. You can have a cheap remodel.

    Pick any 2.

    You can't have all 3.

    You can have a high quality kitchen fast, but it won't be cheap. Or you can have a high quality kitchen on a budget, but it'll be slow. Or, you can have a low quality kitchen fast and cheap.

    Time to start over---with your expectations first. Second would be to start interviewing GC's. GC's are more important than cabinet lines if you're not DIY. A good contractor and cabinet installer can take middle of the road cabinets and make them look like a million dollars if they do high quality work. Or, a bad contractor and cabinet installer can take the highest quality cabinets and make them look like you bought them at WalMart if they don't know what they're doing. You've got a good start at a design. So, start interviewing contractors. That's where the majority of the cuttable expense is in this quote anyway.

  • Cloud Swift
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I'm amazed at the cabinetry price. Your kitchen isn't that much different in amount of cabinetry from what we got. Ours is a bit smaller since we have the L plus a 4 by 8 foot island - mud room or cabinetry on the opposite wall - but we have a lot more uppers over the L and more cabinets under the island 3 by 8 of cabinets under the island.

    Our lower cabinets are almost all drawer stacks - 5 have 4 or 5 drawers in the stack and 3 others have pull outs. The drawer heights in the stacks were customized to our needs. All drawers and pull-outs are Blum full extension soft-close. The doors have Blum soft close hardware. The cabinet boxes are very good quality plywood, dovetailed wood drawers and pullouts.

    Our tastes and house style dictated contemporary cabinets so we do have a cost advantage there - we went with natural cherry Shaker frameless - no expensive stains, glazing or furniture legs and no panels for the appliances but we did do panels on the island sides, minimalist molding.

    For that we came out at about $26K for the cabinets - which is still more than many here pay for very functional and pretty cabinets.

    Your cabinet quote is about $55K more than ours and it looks like mostly what that is getting you is a different look. Now I'm not suggesting you should get contemporary shaker cabinets, but that is a lot to pay for looks. The more furniture look you want is going to add cost but it seems like a different designer and/or cabinet line might achieve something that fits your tastes and house for a lot less.

    I hope you don't mind my pointing this out. I understand sometimes appearance is worth paying more for. The granite we loved cost about 6K more than a more run of the mill granite and I'm glad we chose it. It is a joy every day when I use the kitchen. But we went into that with our eyes open knowing what we were splurging.

    As far as over-improving, if your house is like ours, the baths also would need to be updated to bring them up to the level of the kitchen to move you toward the high end of the neighborhood. I'm no real estate expert but it seems to me that an over-improved kitchen with mediocre bathrooms isn't going to do much for house value.

  • pochrist
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well I can't offer much, but to say Holy Crap! My mortgage back 1999 was 126,000.00, and I live in Long Island, NY.

    I'm in the process of completing a Full kitchen remodel for under 18'000.00 - I'll be paying that of for the next 3-4 yrs, No wonder the KD is charging so much - with a Max Budget of $150,000.00 you definatly not hurting for money. Judging by you selection of Appliances I sure hope there will be a High-end cook using those High-end appliances. I'm positive I don't make near as much as you in the Salary department. But I do computer repairs on the side and I goto peoples houses and see these beautiful kitchens, littered with KFC, McD's and Boston market containers - all of these people complain they don't have "Time" to cook (obviously they're working overtime to pay for the Kitchen).

    All I can say is I hope YOU will use the kitchen (or Status symbol if you like) instead of letting it sit there like a home depot show room. I have thought seriously about trying to "up" my financial postition, but the plain facts come back to me over and over agian, with great saleries come great stress, a lack of personal time and in many cases (though not all) "No life" just work, work, work, die... and then the kids get it all and piss all your hard earned your money away.

    My goal in life is simple, to make enough to survive + a little more for some modest luxuries and just enough in the bank to cover any surprises and little IRA or 401k on the side.

    Because I know that for myself that Too much will make fat and ungrateful and too little will make me thief.

    This just the view from a guy who's an inch above the "lower middle class" line.

  • mayland
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Pochrist, are you reading the same thread as everyone else? There are "fat and ungrateful" people at all ends of the salary scale, but what is abundantly clear is that Taliaferro has been nothing but warm, pleasant and appreciative of everyone's advice here, and sounds equally kind in her interactions with her GC and KD.

    You know nothing of her stress level, amount of personal time, or work/life choices.

  • breezy_2
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I am late to this game as well. The design is nice but 80K for cabinets? WOW, that seems EXTREMELY high. My kitchen is about the same size as yours but I have a wrap around bar w/base cabinets at the "open" end so a lot more cabinets than shows in your drawing. We had custom cabinets built and upgraded from maple to red alder (was quoted a 10% upgrade for red alder) stained w/glaze. My total cabinet bid was 30K and that included the kitchen, 4 baths and 2 laundry rooms (1 small w/just a set of uppers and one large with the red alder base and uppers). I would guess the kitchen alone was about $20K of the $30K total...and they came in on budget.

  • pochrist
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "You know nothing of her stress level, amount of personal time, or work/life choices"

    Your absolutely right, from my point of view, a $125,000 budget for a kitchen, well... is frankly absurd. Maybe I'm too far out of touch from the rest of the "Average people" in thinking "if the kitchen is $125,000 or better what is the house costing. I was under the impression I was living a kind average life with an "average salary" and that the kitchens that were being discussed were "average kitchen remodels", but I can see that I'm far away from emphasizing with this type of "cost". Never you mind me I'll slink back to my rightful place...

  • karenyang
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Taliaferro, I thought I'd add something that I feel is missing from the above posts (which I mostly agree with, by the way, but I'm willing to not throw this baby out yet)....

    *Some* credit must be given to the KD that he contacted you. The fact that his reply was short should not (yet) turn you off, because my experience with service providers has been that they do not put NEARLY as much time in to crafting emails as we do because we're 100% dedicated to our one project, and, as much as we'd like to believe our service providers love our projects as much as we do, they're not. I do the same thing - I craft detailed, thought-out and often, long emails to our architect, and I either get no reply or "thanks" back - and yet, we really like her!

    Having said that, my reaction would be to not throw out all the existing intangible information that has passed between you and the KD (conversations, vision, descriptions, etc. that would have to be repeated to a new KD). This was, after all, the first time the KD received official word that you are, in no uncertain terms, SERIOUS about your budget. My experience with designers (not of the home variety yet, but certainly the branding/design group that I use to handle my firms' marketing) is that we outline a vision, they shoot for the moon, I tell them we can't afford it, then we start cutting back from there. Happens every time.

    It feels much more personal when it's our home, but the theory is the same - if the designers showed us only what we could afford, we'd never see what they are capable of, so unfortunately, it's marketing for them, too. Plus, I'd rather see what is possible and what the professional extension of my limited vision is, versus just what I asked for, and then see if I can make it happen - through my own resources, some scrimping here and there, etc. Sometimes I can make it happen, sometimes I can't. But I always appreciate knowing what the next level is.

    Bottom line, I'd give the KD this one more chance to see what he can come up with. Now he knows what you like, he's seen the mutual vision, and now it's up to him to scale the plan back so you don't lose the feel, but shave off some of the extra bits.

    Hope that helps, please keep us updated on how it goes!


  • mayland
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    This is the rightful place for anyone who is interested in kitchens -- of ANY price -- and who wants to help/give advice/learn/get advice. There are threads about kitchens that cost >$180,000 (like this one hopefully won't!), and those that cost My kitchen is sort-of on budget at $15,000, and I have received all kinds of great help and advice - from people with similar budgets and from those with much higher-end kitchens than my own. Its a common interest, not a common budget, that makes this place work. So, I don't think this is the place for making unpleasant generalizations about people you have never met (and who appear, at least in their virtual existence, to not fit your generalizations).

  • larryinseattle
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Here is a minority opinion. You are lucky - you did it right. You knew your budget was in trouble before beginning. Our ignorance of the process and misplaced trust produced an unfortunate situation. The first clue was that she drives a Cayenne - Porsche's SUV. We have an 88 Camry, an 03 Honda Civic and a couple of recumbent tricycles.

    We have a contractor and the KD also is the project manager. Here is the catch on the contract: The "homeowner" supplies all of the appliances, plumbing fixtures, cabs, countertop materials (tile and marble), flooring (carpet and hardwood), lighting, switches and outlets. The KD is supposed to line up all of that with our input. Well, she never gave us a total and changed some materials along the way. When queried, we were assured that we will fall well within our budget and we should not be concerned.

    The second clue that something was amiss came with the P/Os that dribbled in during the remodel. It was hard to extrapolate to a final cost, but we were becoming increasingly uneasy about the subtotal. Now it is too late.

    And of course, she has a statement in her contract saying she is not responsible for anything. Likely unenforceable (not that I would sue), but there it is and she does not hesitate to remind me of it when I balk at financially covering her mistakes. (She has great business sense, no? The customer is always screwed.) She has mis-ordered everything from cans and outlets to tile and flooring, causing delays as well as increased cost. In the last couple of weeks I have done the specification and ordering myself, cutting her out of that part of the process.

    The kitchen/living room remodel is a couple of weeks away from completion and will indeed be as lovely and functional as we had hoped. The design is good; the materials are fine; the contractor has been great. But guess who will be getting neither a recommendation nor repeat business from us?

  • taliaferro
    Original Author
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The collective wisdom on this forum is truly a treasure. Many thank yous for the insight offered by each and every one of you.

    During this limbo phase, I haven't been sitting idle, I got a list of other cabinet lines to look at (many from garden webbers who replied to another thread I posted). I have requested catalogs, and will start making the rounds to the different dealers soon after the holidays.

    It's true that no matter what this KD comes back with, he's already lost me. ::SIGH:: I'm blue because I feel like I've expended time and energy over the past six months collaborting with this KD and now poof, that relationship is gone. I can't help but see it as a loss at the moment. Yet, I appreciate the fact that if this thing was destined to fall apart, better now than later.

  • rmkitchen
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I just want you to know you are NOT alone (clearly, given the incredible number of responses you've received!). We had a v. similar situation to yours: really liked our KD (even socialized with her and her husband) who grossly exceeded our budget (and made me feel bad about it in the process). When I finally countered her on all these grossly escalating numbers it ended badly. Really badly. With her telling me to f*** off in front of my three and one year-old children.

    I wrote in a weepy post here to GW where I was overwhelmed with the kindess, support and incredible insight offered me by fellow members. Pretty much it came back that we had dodged a bullet (by not going any further with this KD) or, at worst, been grazed by a bullet. But nothing fatal!

    In your other thread (re: custom cabinet lines) I wrote that we were temporarily derailed and that it had set us back a number of months. But to this day, taliaferro, I am so grateful to be where I am now rather than having proceeded down a sure-to-have-been acrimonious and expensive (not to mention unfulfilling) path with the KD.

    It's natural to feel blue because it feels like everything you'd envisioned is now gone. Some of it is, yes, but some of it is still here. You have already done most of the hard work (defining your style, layout, appliance / hardware choices ...), so when you find the people who will help you and your family achieve your new space, you'll be able to hit the ground running. You also know all sorts of red flags to look out for, as well as what's desirable / necessary in the people (e.g., GC, cabinet company) you'll be interviewing.

    I can absolutely promise you it will get better.

  • igloochic
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Tali, I wanted to say (I'm not sure if I did) that in my remodel I actually went with the KD because the plans were "all done" and then...the cabinets came, and they SUCKED!!! And I can't stress that enough. So many people said "make them work" and I realized how stupid that was :) And started over again. I'm going to have a stunning kitchen, with every bell and whistle, and very very high quality cabinets, and all for around your budget.

    I'd love to hear that you see someone else and get everything you want, including the special stains, legs, etc. I have every bell and whistle involved, including inset doors (a big upcharge) and I'm using a very high quality cabinet company, Omega Custom, which I'd recommend you look at. They do everything custom (they have lower end lines as well, you can find them on line) but one of the things I love is that the inside stains match the outside, which I really think makes a difference in a high end design (I hate to open a cabinet and see another color or thermafoil). I'm spending about $70M for two bathrooms and a kitchen. I also was able to work in a Lacanche (look at those as well as the one you like because...they're cooler heh heh) and all of the options you are doing away with because of this designer. My tile backsplash...egads have you read the freaking complaining about it???? I'm pushing $70 a sq ft! So I know you can get everything everything everything!!!! you want if you keep searching.

    I only mention the costs and pushing the issue because, personally I don't care about how much I spend on the kitchen, it's my kitchen and I want what I want. I might not get it all back but I don't care, I want what I want :) But for the kind of money you're willing to spend, if I were to hear that budget for a kitchen, I'd expect to see all of the bells and whistles, including that warming drawer and subzero...(buy the Lacanche and you won't need a warming drawer...they're included) Heh heh

    Anyhoo, I know how you feel right now, because I've been there, and it totally sucks! But I'd rather see you take that dream design elsewhere and look to other cabinets of very high quality (that's important, I understand) but get all of the goodies as well (pot filler, etc). You can afford that under your budget :) So keep working, and when this is all done, you can enjoy that dream kitchen :) Which you will deserve after this hell is over LOL

  • taliaferro
    Original Author
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    rmkitchen-- your words of encouragement mean alot to me:) As suggested by a few members, it certainly could have been worse. I will soldier on with the good fortune to have this forum as a resource.

    igloochic-- At your suggestion, Omega is most definitely on the top of my list and I plan to look at LaCanche for my french range over the LaCornufe I selected. Thank you for your generous advice:) I've been following along as your fabulous kitchen remodel progresses.

  • sharon1
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Wow, long thread, so my turn to chime in. I think the general concensus is get your plans and go elsewhere. I just finished a remodel and after a few custom cabinet maker interviews and estimates it turns out my custom cabinets (knotty alder and painted combination) where less expensive than the quote for Omegas. The cabinet maker took my drawings made suggestions and came up with a final - no charge. Oh he installed them too (no extra charge).

    My kitchen costs break down like this: cabinets 21k, appliances(subz,dacor df, wine chiller, compactor, miele, micro) 25k, granite 10k, wood floors 3k, 8ft addition onto kitchen 20k, extras (copper sink, shaws prep sink,faucets 4k. I'm sure I could have spent 150, but didn't need to.

    Shop around and use the forum, it's loaded with good advice. Good luck