The Bathroom & Kitchen Professionals
I would like to start off with employees , as this is unfortunately not properly understood by the majority of South African consumers.
To provide a professional service to clients most companies will try and employ professional designers and craftsman . The designer needs to know his or her stuff . The design stage is the starting point and in all the crafts, if a mess is made here the only recourse here is more expense. If a kitchen does not work it will be a very frustrating place to cook in . A badly made cabinet can always be fixed , not so with a badly designed kitchen.
Only but a few years ago kitchen companies would provide a free design service and leave the client with designs complete with dimensions . This has changed due to the fact that customers like shopping for the best price . ( nothing wrong with that ) but what would occur in reality is that the professional company would spend hours or days liasing with the client , designing their dream kitchen and in the end it would be passed on to the bakkie brigade and or one of DIY shops by the customer.
The independent does not have the expenses , software , tooling and or design know how so he uses other companies expertise to gain there business by offering a lower price ( using there designs.) This is poor business ethics and in my eyes plain theft.
A good cabinet maker does necessarily make a good designer , but a designer with good cabinetry knowledge makes an excellent designer.
Independents do not always carry a guarantee on there work or warrantee on the cabinets.
I have heard horror stories of clients paying there deposit only to receive the carcasses delivered on site and the independent contractor walking off the site never to be seen again.
This usually happens when after starting the job the contractor realises he has under quoted and cannot complete the job and or has not the expertise or manpower to complete the job .
The reasons are varied , some are valid and some not ,but the highest probability is the various construction methods used , materials , finishes , tooling and the quality of it’s employees.
Professional cabinet makers use professional people and independents use what they have , most of the time independents are owner run, managed and jack of all trades. We can’t all be good at everything all the time . Excellent well run professional companies realise this , and the reason why they employ other professionals to do what they either cant do or if they would rather manage their business .( Which is the correct way of doing business)
I personally had a bad experience with our body corporate’s insurance company when our home was damaged due to flooding.
Besides it taking nearly 2 months to replace the cabinets, the chaps that came to do job were clearly not professional . Using 20 year old cabinetry methods and cutting large pieces of board in my home was a stressful experience . It took them almost a week to replace 2 bedrooms cabinets. This should have taken one day.
I had to be at home during this time and had lost a fair amount of business due this fiasco.
Going cheap is not always the best policy.
Unfortunately our society is getting use to cheap low quality imports from China and excepting this as the norm.
This should never be the norm .
Cabinetry methods vary according to the capabilities of the manufacturer . Some methods require CNC and and some require more precision than others .
An example of a poor cabinetry method are cabinets that have there backs ( normally 3,2 mm ) nailed on the back of the cabinet. This should NOT be the case and is a clear give away of weak cabinetry skills and planning. A dado method is the best method and used by all the major companies.
Another outdated ( for a reason ) are cabinets that sit flush onto the floor. You should NEVER use this method. Replacing a cabinet after water damage and such will normally mean all your cabinets are damaged. It is also difficult to level these cabinets and the one method used by unscrupulous cabinet makers are to fill the spaces below the cabinet with hardboard to level it off. ( Normally when you are not looking ) What happens when the hardboard shifts or gets water ?
The cabinet it self should be separate from the base and the kick plate separate from the cabinet.
A great way of ensuring that your cabinets last is to ensure that you have plastic legs below you cabinets and not chipboard or board as your supporting base.
This method ensures that a kick plate can be replaced without effecting the cabinets, any damage that occurs below the cabinet line will not effect the cabinet itself. ( Normally 150 mm for Kitchens and 100 mm for Bedrooms )
Cabinets that do get damaged can easily be removed and replaced without upsetting the whole kitchen.
Standard base cabinets are normally 870 H , ( bottom kick plate included which is 150 H ) the cabinet itself would be 720 H and should be 560-570 deep. Once your top is include ( depending on thickness) your total height of the base units will be anything from 900 H onwards .
Cabinetry that have 16mm backs are usually overkill , but they do ensure a very strong cabinet. ( This method is normally more expensive , but talk to your manufacturer if you prefer this method and see what the difference in price will be ) You will have to use a dado method in this case.
The best assurance you can have is to ask the manufacturer to show you how they construct their cabinets.
Some companies use cam and bolt or cam and dowels to connect their cabinets. These methods have been used since WW2 and are a superior method of fastening.
It ensures a strong fit and makes a stronger cabinet. Aesthetically it makes a more finished product.
Hinges : Are they all the same ? Definetly not.
There are quality hinges and cheap hinges . What does it help having a great looking kitchen when after a few months your doors start sagging or falling off due to bad quality hinges .
Some hinges ( the el - cheapos ) rust within a few weeks .
Hinges need to take punishment and one needs to ensure that your manufacturer is using a strong hinge from a reputibale manufacturer .
Runners : The same goes for runners , even more so as these items take a beating .
One needs to be assured that the correect runner is being used for the correct purpose . You cannot use a runner made for small and or low impact use for high load bearing use like pot drawers .
There are many varities of runners available from standard , bearing to soft close runners .
Depending upon quality and type these fasteners will either infuence your price dramatically or very little, you can discuss this with your manufacturer and have him or her explain the diffrence in prices vs type of runner.
There are many accessories available like pull out bins , plate racks , spice pull outs , magic corner units ,pull out grocery units pull out metal drawers and the like. All of these items vary in quality and price . I will advise as with the hinges - Quality - Quality . Rather go with less and have quality .
Connectors, in wide use in Europe since World War II, are reliable fasteners which increase project throughput, standardize production, enable “knock down”, decrease assembly time, ease on-site installation and improve your bottom line
Handles: The same applies here. Make sure you know what you are being quoted on. Some Handles may look the same , but the quality may differ .
Always (with whatever you ask a quote for ) make sure you compare apples with apples.
The cheaper price may be cheap for a reason.
Be very aware of what you have been quoted on - be specific .
Engineered Stone : are they all equal - NO
are they all the same price - NO
My recommendation is to purchase from a reputable supplier and or manufacturer . Make sure you are purchasing a BRAND ie : ceasarstome , Silestone ect.
There are suppliers that import engineered stone from China and this is NOT on par with the more expensive brands like ceasarstone ect. They may look the same but they are NOT the same quality .
If you are unsure about engineered stone make sure it is quarts based and not marble - marble based engineered stone is weaker in quality and not scratch resistant.
Granite / Marble : Depending upon colour ,thickness and point of origin the prices may vary from 2900 per square metre to 20 000 per square metre.
A word of advice : Purchase your marble , granite or engineered stone directly from the manufacturer as most kitchen companies do not install the stone tops . Going this route will save you some money. ( some kitchen companies receive kick backs from the suppliers and ultimately you could have made this saving.)
We will have more specific detail on tops in our article section.
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Why Are Some Companies More Expensive Than Others ?