lidia_nonn

New construction and cabinet sub question

Lidia
August 6, 2019

Well, I’m a nut shell the builder had us meet their cabinet sub before we entered into a Finish Contract. He quoted 25-30G for all the work. The contract then included a 40G allowance for the cabinetry. I gave the cabinet guy the plans drawn out by a KD and the quote was $41,000. We approved this quote and made minor changes...add a cutting board, 3 rev a shelves and increased the crown molding height by 4”. The molding is very simple. I asked if i Changed the stain color would that increase the cost, cabinet guy said no. I asked about the cost of the crown, he said it would be very little. I made sure he’s known all long cost was a concern. I never received scale drawings or a final cost after my minor edits. Today I heard the new cost is $52,000.

I am outraged.

How should I proceed to a fair cost,,,accepting the original $41,000 even though I removed a couple cabinets and simplified a couple as well, plus just the minor add-ons (cutting board and rev a shelves)? I want to be fair and I want it done right but I don’t want to be a chump!


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Comments (21)

  • jmm1837

    Why not sit down with the cabinet guy and ask him where the additional costs came in?

    Lidia thanked jmm1837
  • salex

    No rev-a-shelf product should increase your costs by that much, but keep in mind that saying you added three rev-a-shelves could mean anything from a $20 drawer insert to a $1200 pantry pullout. The have a very wide range of products, with wide-ranging prices to match. If you're trying to see what would be a realistic price increase, please let us know which exact rev-a-shelf products you added.

    Lidia thanked salex
  • 2ManyDiversions

    I'm not clear on how you increased the crown molding height. Same crown molding? Or is it another crown molding that's 4" higher than the original - that's gonna increase costs significantly, especially stain grade wood. If it's a filler piece, I'll assume it's wood that will be stained since you mentioned stain. Depending on the wood, depending on the square footage, assuming this is a finish carpenter grade installation, that's still going to add to your costs.

    No, changing stain color before they purchase it won't affect price.

    Since we don't know which rev-a-shelf, not sure the cost there.

    I don't think I'm seeing the full increase they've told you, but I don't think it's minimal, either.

    Agree with jmm, have a sit down with the cabinet maker and ask him to show you the additional costs. Understand this will include add'l labor.

    Lidia thanked 2ManyDiversions
  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    Lidia, moldings can be several thousands. Stacked moldings can be double several thousands. Organizers cost more than just the material costs. That also increases the labor time for production. Stain color CAN be an upcharge. Not "basic" stains, no. But super dark stains, gray stains, whitewashed stains, stains with glazing, or specialty distressing or finishing, those all cost more.

    I have to say, I don't think the costs are truly out of line for something mid grade and well made. Not for a whole house. For just a kitchen, you'd be approaching high mid grade, lower upper grade kitchen at 52K. But a whole house? That can be seen as a reasonable range.

    There are 52,000 different variables that go into your cabinet pricing. The person that best knows all of those 52K variables though, is your cabinet maker. Set up a time to sit down, drink some coffee, eat some cookies, and talk over why things jumped in price, and what other tradeoffs that you can make to get the price back down. Sometimes you can choose a less expensive wood. Alder instead of cherry. Birch instead of maple. Sometimes you can pick a less involved, and thus less expensive, stain. Or a simpler door profile. There are always ways to reduce costs. But not without some trading off of one thing for another. Good luck!

    Lidia thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • herbflavor

    you want drawers on that base area. If you have 3 vertical reva shelf inserts in a pantry [tall] and something else, for example, that can shoot things right up. Vertical pantry is nice....it is expensive, and you do lose counter. You can get rollout base pantry cabinets which are very efficient. Look closer at your cabs...you say you deleted a few and simplified some.....you do not necessarily want to do that. It is efficiency and storage that is appropriate for you.....that you want to maximize. he may perhaps sub out those rev a shelf install procedures. It is hard to know where the cost jumped, but stick to the best storage and quality in your cabinet options. Paint....fancy door style...select wood species....extra molding.....extra tall cabs....these things are discretionary. Look close.

    Lidia thanked herbflavor
  • Lidia

    I understand fancy stuff costs more but when I got the 41,000 quote, we already picked out everything and had a plan drawn up.

    all I changed was the stain as half the cabinets and the crown are being painted. He said the crown would be about $2 per linear foot more. It’s a super simple design, two plain pieces of wood of different sizes, no fancy coving.

    The only additions I made where:

    2 cutting boards

    2 10x25 rev a shelves

    1 cutlery tray drawer insert.

    He‘s Mia-measures stuff and since the 41,000 quote we’ve taken away cabinets because he mis measured.

    Mid love to sit down with him but im doing this build from 1,000 miles away.

    I did email him and the GC, ill share what they say.

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    I have a lot of concern over what you just wrote. Honestly, this isn't really doable very well from 1000 miles away. No construction project is unless you have engaged a local architect or designer to be your on site advocate as project manager, after engaging in extensive design documentation as references. I've done that for clients, and, well, it's never smooth. Because it's construction. But on site solving problems is part of what HAS to happen. A contractor isn't your fiduciary advocate. A designer or architect, legally represents your interests, and is your advocate.

    You need to make time to be on site, or find someone to represent your interests on site and to liaise with the contractors. Or both.

    Lidia thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • chispa

    Who is paying the cabinet guy? I am going to assume that your GC is paying him as it is part of the whole building contract. Make sure the GC stays involved and approves anything that gets said by the cabinet guy or it will become your problem to resolve and pay for.

    Lidia thanked chispa
  • bry911

    "A contractor isn't your fiduciary advocate. A designer or architect, legally represents your interests, and is your advocate."

    In general, neither architects or designers have a fiduciary duty. I am not sure that this applies to every state, but certainly in most states neither are fiduciaries. Architects, in general, use a standard of care model rather than fiduciary, which is really the same thing that contractors use.

    Lidia thanked bry911
  • bry911

    To the OP, what do you have in writing vs. what was discussed verbally?

    Lidia thanked bry911
  • jmm1837

    OP - speaking as someone who did a build 500 miles away, with a builder but not an architect, I think there are times during the build when you need to be on site. This appears to be one of those times. Our builder contacted us on several occasions during our build and we drove down for a few days to check on things, make some materials choices, discuss a few issues and make sure everyone was on the same wave length. Ours was essentially a spec build, not a custom build, so the builder made a lot of the decisions, but we did have a chance to discuss some changes. We actually moved down about 2 1/2 months before the house was completed and I'm glad we did, because the closer we got to the end of the build, the more potential there seemed to be for mistakes/misunderstandings. In your case, it might be well worth it to do a personal site visit.

    Lidia thanked jmm1837
  • Lidia

    Good evening folks. And thank you again for your thoughtful input, it’s very much appreciated. Yes the builder has partially paid the cabinet guy. Yes, I agree I need to bring him in to be more responsible and involved. It’s a complicated dance. I’m making it to the build site for a few days every 2 months. This month will be the 2 year anniversary of getting the land cleared. 2 years in this upcoming January the anniversary of the foundation being poured. Each visit takes time and money and if money were no object, I wouldn’t be worried about the extra thousands here or there. Yes, I know, it could mean thousands if I don’t go but i prefer to be home and handle things remotely as much as reasonable. This home build is a vacation/retirement home and we are not able to move down for any length of time. So far the builder has been very good with us and would expect them to continue to be. I do wish they would give me more detail in all the costs, it’s concerning to me but there needs to be some level,of trust since I imagine a bad contractor could make up stuff and I’d still not be any wiser. I broke my foot last week while at the site, I’ll go back in early September for a couple days. So far the quality of work has been very good. just This last snafu with the cabinets and hopefully all else will go smoothly.

  • 2ManyDiversions

    Lidia, I'm sorry, I've nothing of further help to add other than to stress The Cook's Kitchen's comments. It seems you are not able to be there, and if you don't have it in your budget to hire someone you can fully trust to supervise, I think you'll have problems. Which means lower your expectations or increase the funds and find an advocate who works solely for you, not your GC. I don't mean to be a negative nancy, but at over a 1,000 miles away, there will be issues that need addressing, and as no one will be there to catch things, they'll happen without you. I think you are experiencing just one of the first issues. It seems you are caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Lidia thanked 2ManyDiversions
  • bry911

    It is important to have everything in writing. This is a step too many people skip and it is probably the most important step. However, if your original agreement was not in writing, it is not too late to get it in writing.

    Before we get too far, here is some good advice for everyone, always put verbal conversations into an email. I will text myself reminders about conversations I have throughout the day and in the evening will compose emails to those people starting with, "As we discussed today...," and ending with, "please advise if your understanding is different." They do not have to respond but I have created a written record and an affirmative duty for them to correct any misunderstandings.

    If this didn't occur in your situation, it isn't too late to make something like that happen. Just start with, "As we discussed when we approved the design," and then proceed to detail your original discussion, and then finally ask why the final price differs so much from that discussion. If the cabinetmaker explains why the costs are so much more than the original quote, then he has largely accepted your description of the original agreements as factual.

    -----

    I don't care how much these things might actually cost. You have a textbook promissory estoppel case (a.k.a. detrimental reliance or "but for"). The idea being this, you relied on the cabinetmaker's assertions that these would be inexpensive upgrades in order to approve them, but for that assertion, you wouldn't have made the changes.

    Promissory estoppel is not a particularly strong legal argument, but your case is almost exactly like the case that is used to introduce the concept. If I remember correctly, a mason hired to build a patio quoted an estimate over the phone based on information that the owner had provided (size of patio and flat area). When the mason arrived the patio was bigger than the homeowner noted and the was not flat. The mason continued with the job and billed the client accordingly, the courts found that the mason was not entitled to significantly more money because the homeowner relied on the estimate of the professional to approve the work.

    The case is used because there is double detrimental reliance there. The contractor relied on the homeowner for size and grade, while the homeowner relied on the estimate for approval. But the courts found it wasn't reasonable that a contractor should rely on a homeowner's measurements and description, while it was reasonable that a homeowner rely on a professional's estimate.

    I think you are perfectly within your rights to negotiate. I don't know that this is the hill I would die on, but certainly some negotiation seems reasonable. In the end, if this is the worst overage and surprise you have on your build, you got off cheap.

    -----

    I have done construction projects from 7,180 miles away (9 time zones) with only one long site visit (after connections the flight was 25 hours). Depending on your contractor an agent may be helpful or harmful, in the end you are still proxying your decisions to someone else, whose goals ostensibly align better with yours. Goal alignment is achievable in the contractor relationship with proper incentives. Cost plus contracts were designed to remove profit from quality, and properly executed you should be able to achieve a quality build without an agent, as you simply align goals in the contract. This might take someone experienced in construction contracts to achieve, but it is achievable, and the overall cost should be lower than having a construction manager. Not that construction managers are a problem and I have advocated for them at times, but a good relationship with a quality builder shouldn't be undersold.

    Best of luck to you.

    Lidia thanked bry911
  • Lidia

    Dear bry911, thank you so much. What you wrote is incredibly valuable and very useful. I really like our builder and the cabinet guy. Though I do freak out at the cost of building, I’m trying to remain fair and reasonable knowing skill and work must be compensated fairly but I’ve trusted them with very little paperwork and even less detail. Perhaps a Pollyanna of me, I want this build to have good karma and vibe. You’ve helped me tremendously and now I look forward to discussing a resolution that is fair on both sides. You made my day, thank you!

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC

    I'm no lawyer, but if he made extensive additions without a signed change order, he's a fool.

    Lidia thanked Joseph Corlett, LLC
  • PRO
    Creative Design Cabinetry

    Definitely get with cabinetmaker to discuss additional costs.


    Stain is an increase and depending on wood choice, can be big.


    Rev-A-Shelf items add up also.

    Lidia thanked Creative Design Cabinetry
  • Lidia

    Hi Joseph...no change order was made, he never gave us the final drawings either Depicted multiple requests. I also believe the GC said most of the cabinets are done. I just hope we can resolve this and not have any bad feelings by anyone.

  • Lidia

    Dear Creative Design Cabinetry...the stain costs were included in the $41,000 quote so there shouldn’t be an additional cost if I’m just changing the color from a dark brown to a slightly less dark brown. 3 rev a shelves shouldn’t cost thousands. I’ll go,to Lowe’s and install them myself...done it before. the GC said the cabinet guy would contact me today. Crickets...I hope that means he’s taking this seriously to resolve the issues.

  • PRO
    Creative Design Cabinetry

    Sorry I missed that stain was in the original bid. Good luck today.

    Lidia thanked Creative Design Cabinetry
  • Lidia

    Thank you, CDC!

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