Need some Cabinet advice...I'm in Cabinet Hell
OK...I live in Va. I found a great house on the water at a steal and bought it about 150K behind assessment. House needed a face lift bad...1979 throughout...nothing really done to it since new...4800sf...closed Jan 15th, moved in 1 Feb and painter arrived 5 Feb for an interior paint...
Kitchen was horrible...tiny for a house of its size,boxed in, non vented electric stove and years of neglect...decided to start here and in the spring move outside for a hardscape and pool refurb...
Got a very competent General Contractor, very dependable one-two man operation who has consistently delivered exceptional workmanship, on time and almost always on budget (LOL)...
We decided to take out an L shaped wall to open up the tiny formal dining room, the living room and kitchen into one big common area with the kitchen as the center piece...budget was estimated to be about $60K, we then consulted a kitchen designer and came up with a very nice layout and design.
Appliances were to be GE Monogram exclusively, 48" 6 burner range with grill, 30" double ovens, Trivection Microwave, 48" Built In Fridge, Warming drawer and Dishwasher...
Cabinets were to be of a Shaker/Mission style in Quarter Sawn Oak and stained a deep walnut...
Counter Tops were to be Granite...Seinna Bordeaux about 102 Sq Feet of counter top in all...Granite guy came highly recommended and he was also a one stop shop for cabinets as well...sounded like a win-win...during the bidding process he stated he could get a very nice imported "box" cabinet in all hardwoods (Portugal) for @ $12K OR he had an exceptional cabinet maker across the street he had been dealing with for years whom would make my kitchen cabinets a truly custom job for @ $15K...after some changes to the cabinets (options) the price rose to $17K and after some haggling we came back down to almost $16K...on March 6th 2009 a 50% deposit was made on the cabinets with a 4-6 week completion date...3rd week of April...Cool...I'd rather keep the money locally, a cabinet guy is slow due to the housing market and the economy...I'm patriotic...lets keep it local, hire a local guy, keep the $$$$ in the local economy vs over seas and get a better product too...Right?
Early April comes and due to some problems with a structural beam we tell them that we are behind a little...cabinet maker says that's good because he is too...set a date for cabinet set on 1 May...I walk into cabinet makers shop on 1 May to let him know I'm ready for cabinets...cabinet maker looks like he's seen a ghost...turns white, starts stuttering excuses and I look around and ask where are my cabinets...he had done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING...the Qtr Sawn Oak was still laying in a pile on his racks...I go BALLISTIC...go to my Stone Guy (whom I had the purchase order with, cab guy was a sub to him) I calm down and we have a meeting...comes out he's been taking small side jobs and getting some cash flow vs completing my job...I am assured he will expedite and he'll be working day and night to pump these cabinets out...2 weeks and I'll be happy...PERIOD...
Today is June 11th almost 6 weeks after our meeting...
I have 5 single spaced type written pages documenting the absolutely AMATEURISH job he has done on my cabinets...I have been so mad so long I'm almost over it...
BTW...once he installed the lowers, 5 weeks late I had the granite templated and installed...GRANITE IS NOTHING SHORT OF SUPERB....
Some of this professionals mistakes,
1. Mismatched stiles, some too low, some just the wrong damned size, 2.5" butted to next to 3" and mismatched as well.
2. Stain not even close, one cabinet blond butted up next to dark walnut. I have about 14 identifiable shades so far.
3. Cabinet doors bowed and warped.
4. Taking a sawsall to butcher the bracing so the sink would fit after he had the sink specs in hand and the sink to mock it up.
5. 48" Opening for range top inaccurately cut (he had specs to oven in hand)
6. When he finally brought lowers to set he set them in the wrong places and then proceeded to cut electrical outlet holes into the back of them with a jig saw and completely butchered them.
7. Lacquer finish is horrible on almost all panels (he blames humidity, Weather was beautiful back when he was supposed to be making them, hot and muggy now).
8. Horrible job installing kicks.
9. I still don't have a single drawer installed.
10. Of about 20 I have only 4 cabinet doors so far and 3 of them are (see #3)
I can go on AND ON AND ON...
I've had two other cabinet makers come in to estimate what its going to take to "fix this mess" one says at least $8K for him to completely strip every face to original wood, replace any oak ply faces as they cant be stripped and then refinish to a consistent stain color and there's still some doubt as to the end product, no guarantees...the other says let him rip out ever cabinet and start over with new cabinets all while trying to salvage $12K worth of granite and re-install it
What should I do? Upon completion, when he finally does deliver all of the rest of it I contractually owe them the other 50%...
Should I lawyer up? WWYD? Would Would You Do?
I've got a $850K house with trailer park cabinets...
Wow! Cabinet Hell is Right
As a former millwork representative for Cox Interior, Inc, I thought I had heard some bad job site experiences. I think your story takes the prize.
I've never heard of a contractor or sub being so apathetic towards finishing a project (even when the housing market was booming). On top of that, you're using quarter-sawn Oak (approx. 20%+ higher than standard cut Oak).
Bottom line, you deserve to get what you paid for and shouldn't settle for anything less. If I were you, I would seek a consultation with an attorney in your area ASAP. I am not a lawyer, but I'm fairly certain that every state has a statute of limitations timeframe that you can seek legal action.
So, if your contract is with the granite guy, why don't you look to HIM to resolve the problem? I take it that your "general contractor" is not actually your general contractor, but rather a contractor that is doing whatever you are not contracting directly for (sounds like you are not going through him for the cabinets, right?).
I would clearly outline the grievances in writing to the party that you contracted with for the cabinets, first. Include a demand that these issues be resolved to comply with standards of the industry (plenty of written standards; notably applicable here, AWI - the American Woodworking Institute) within a reasonable (and specific mutually-agreed) timeframe.
The countertop guy will likely have to take a hit and find another millwork shop, but that is the risk that they took when they agreed to sign the contract with you, and where you'd likely arrive (many months, probably years later, and thousands of lawyer-dollars shorter) after going the lawyer / court route. In the interim (until the issue is resolved), you should get your deposit back.
I am a general contractor in Richmond. We work with plenty of these little mill shops for cabinetry. All are well pre-screened, and most of them quite capable of producing a great product. Regardless, we've had a couple of "disaster stories", which fell on my shoulders to resolve. Through our relationships of mutual trust, we rarely give deposits and do not expect our customers to, either. If there is a deposit, it is for a very small percentage to pay for very special / custom items, and there is a system of personal guaranty / bills of sale, etc that are helpful in resolving any potential issues.
Sounds like your countertop guy is earnest about doing a good job / the right thing. Presumably he'd agree with your quality problems. He cannot hide behind the fact that they did not make your cabinets in-house - contractually, it does not matter whether they used a sub. See if he can be part of the solution - he certainly owes it to you.
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