The Most Important Part Of A Custom Cabinet: Communication
If the cabinets you've been looking at in a "design center" don't fit your space, or don't meet your needs, then a custom designed solution may be your best choice. A project that gets everything right is founded on clear communication from the very start.
Step One: Site Visit
Before asking you to take time off to meet, emailing me with a picture of the space and some rough dimensions is enough for me to provide a realistic cost estimate for your project, usually in a day or so.
After confirming the project is something we both can afford (can you buy it, and can I make it for the same figure?), I will schedule a time to meet at your home. These appointments are scheduled during the business day. They can be as early in the morning as you need.
We will discuss details, and I'll take my site measurements.
This meeting usually lasts about 45 minutes.
Step Two: Pricing and Detailing
Just as it's normal to tweak projects to get them looking just right, it is also normal to tweak their cost. Don't despair if initially a project exceeds your budget--swapping out accessories or changing materials can bring a project back within reach.
I don't do "ballparks." It is a poor business practice. Every project has a unique price that is determined by what goes into the job. You will know, prior to fabrication, what the cost is. There are no surprises on the final invoice.
If we are in agreement about project scope and cost, then we move to the design phase.
Step Three: Design Proposal
This rendering is generated by the same software I will use to generate the parts to build your cabinets. It seems simple, but using the same platform to generate useful information for the client ("what am I getting?") and information for the cabinetmaker ("what am I building?") removes a lot of potential for communication errors.
Usually you will get this rendering in an email, along with a written description. Making changes and tweaks is easy to do. Pretty soon you'll have a design that's just right.
Step Five: Building The Cabinets
A parts list for a single 3 drawer base cabinet
Generally speaking, fabrication is the one of the shorter parts of the process. The longest? Usually waiting. The finisher might be busy with another project before getting to yours. Or you are on a month-long vacation when the cabinets are ready to be installed.
My experience is that you, the client, will take longer to make decisions than I will take building the cabinets. And that is as it should be. "Think twice, get it right" is not much different from "measure twice, cut once."
A contractor once told me, "People should not be asking 'when can you start?' They should ask 'when will you finish?.'"
Lead times vary according to project size and what else is going on in the shop. Kitchens average 6-8 weeks, for example. In any case, I will be realistic and upfront about the timing of your project.