Playing poker with your cabinet estimate: "How much is it gonna cost ?"

October 30th, 2009 § Leave a Comment

I am not a betting person but sometimes I wonder if I should take up poker since some client’s like to play it with me. Poker it seems is a game of not revealing your cards and is a game of chance, skill and never revealing your moves.

The problem with playing poker in remodeling is that it just doesn’t work this way if you want me to plan an estimate for you. “How much is it gonna cost me?” “How much do you want to spend?” I could bluff but that just wastes both your time and mine, doesn’t it? You can’t build your budget on a game of Texas Hold-em and I can’t plan a design for you unless I know your budget, pardner. Case in point: You want to buy cabinets from me and you want to know how much it’s gonna cost. You look at my corner 10 x 10 display and you ask how much would something like this cost in my kitchen? Well that’s like asking how much is a bag of groceries!

Estimating is time intensive and if you really want to know the truth, if you think you are getting a deal with getting someone to come out and give you a “free estimate” you just lost the game. Anytime someone says it’s a “free estimate” is playing poker with you. Chances are he is factoring his time into the cost of the project without revealing to you that the time to estimate, the drive time, the payroll expense to pay someone to layout the plans for your “free design” just upped the ante for him. He has to factor his time and labor into your cost. But not just your estimate, you are also paying for everyone else who asked for a free estimate with over all higher prices. Time is money, my friend, and no one is driving around town, spending time with each customer that calls for a free estimate and not building his costs into your estimate. If he isn’t, he won’t be in business  for long.

Do I want to play poker with clients? Nope, I am a straight shooter. I don’t like gambling with my customer’s time or money. I can provide you the option of a free estimate if you bring me your measurements and I can do a take off with preliminary numbers to get you in the ball park of price ranges. A free estimate won’t be accurate to the penny because I have not verified the dimensions my self. It will remain a ballpark range within 10-15% until the dimensions can be verified and the details of your “wish list” versus “must have” list” clarified by you.

If you are not comfortable with measuring your own kitchen, I can do that for you but I charge a measure fee for my time to come out to your house and take accurate measurements of the space and you will get accurate pricing. This is rebated back to you when you purchase my cabinets, which is a fair deal. If you don’t want to buy from me, you get a few rendered concept views and those are for you to keep.

All this makes sense until the customer who wants to have a Mexican Stand Off enters the picture. She wants a price, but won’t bring in dimensions of the kitchen and she won’t pay a measure fee for preliminary plans. She won’t pay the fee because she doesn’t know if she will like what she gets. It does not pay to play poker with a client because I cannot guess how much your kitchen is going to cost until we discuss what it is exactly you want in your kitchen and until I price it out. I cannot presume to know your taste and style without at least having a conversation with you. I have to see it or at the very least be provided pictures of kitchens you like and dimensions to estimate from.

Come on folks, this is like going to see your Cosmetic Surgeon and telling her you want your face to look younger but you are not willing to reveal what part of the face you want worked on and how much you want to spend. A brow lift, a facial peel, a face lift, remove the bags under your eyes, remove the jowels, it all adds up. What do you want to do?

Likewise you can’t go to a Realtor and say “I want to buy a house” and escorted to several homes for sale without knowing what your price range is.  Kitchens, like houses, like cars, like anything you want to buy are available in several different prices ranges. If you cannot reveal honestly what your investment can be, your service provider will not be able to provide you the best service or the best value for the money without these basic facts to work from. Mostly, I want to provide my clients a project and a product they are satisfied with. To do this well, communication is essential and this is no place for a game of poker with your wants and needs.

Also, if a client tells me she doesn’t need a design, she just needs to order cabinets, you can’t place an order for cabinets without a plan. A plan involves a design, a design involves exact dimensions, dimensions require accuracy and if I am responsible for your order, I need to be the one measuring for those cabinets. I suppose you can simply go to your local big box store and place your order with the order takers, but then you are responsible for your dimensions. I prefer not to be an order taker.  

Getting an accurate design and paying a Professional Kitchen Designer will save you money in the long run. You can retain a Kitchen Designer to provide you a space plan so that you can get competitive bids from contractors or you may get a great price from that Kitchen Designer and buy from her. Whichever the case may be for you, working with a Kitchen Designer will add value to your project. Contractors will thank you for having detailed plans to bid from, as this saves them time knowing what the details are for your project in advance. There are too many details in cabinet design for a contractor to keep up with or even care about. Most contractors will advise clients to get their cabinets planned out and provide them a copy of the plans. A kitchen designer will be able to best advise on cabinetry, counter tops, lighting, flooring, best use of space layout, seating arrangements, appliances, storage solutions and so much more. Furthermore, an experienced designer that specializes in Kitchen Design will save you from the headaches of not pre-planning the details and not having the materials on the job when the contractor needs them. You can find a Professional Kitchen Designer by searching the National Kitchen and Bath Association website,

How much is it going to cost? Moreover, how much will you save by retaining expert advice? 

photo credit1:
photo credit2:   Clint Eastwood, The Man With No Name

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