What to Look For When Hiring a Cabinet Maker

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topless male carpenterMy wife wanted me to make this picture my whole article. She says it’s what everyone should look for when hiring a cabinet maker. Very funny. Well, for people other than my wife, whether it’s a kitchen, bath, closet, or office, here are some guidelines to think about when you’re looking for a happy ending to your cabinet job. (Construction projects are very stressful.)

Let’s say you’re a homeowner and you’ve had the same cabinets for 20 years. It’s time to join the 90’s – oh wait, I mean the New Millenium! Anyway, say you want to upgrade for yourself or to sell later. Here are some steps to take, that hopefully will prevent the migraines that so often accompany owner builder projects.

Find the Cabinet Guy or Gal
First off, you have to find someone, to get the ball rolling. Ask friends, talk to your co-workers and see if anyone knows anyone who has had some work done. The wood kind, not the plastic! Word-of-mouth referrals are the best. If all else fails, you can use Yelp, Craigslist, or better yet, a paid service like Angie’s List where you can get actual reviews of providers from other homeowners that have already used them.

License and Insurance
Before meeting for the first time, ask your prospective cabinet dude/dudet if they’re licensed and insured. The reputable ones are, and the ones who are not can be as much as 50% lower in price than those who pay their dues, follow the laws, and are legit. Don’t be the homeowner with a half-done job and a no-show from the cabinet guy who gave you such a great deal. You get what you pay for!

Get References
Any reputable cabinet maker has plenty of satisfied clients. Ask if you can talk to them or see some of their previous projects. Here’s the rub of course – they’re not going to let you talk to the disgruntled customers. But if they have a list of happy campers, check ‘em out. Pick the ones who have a style of cabinets similar to what you’re looking for. What good does it do to go to a traditional face frame job when you’re looking for contemporary? Hello!?!

First Impressions
Trust your instincts when you meet with your cabinetry pro/super-model. You’ll get a read as to whether you can get along or not. Are they pushy? Are they telling you what you want to hear or are they really listening? Does they smell? If it seems like you can relate to your cabinet person, then go from there.

Drawings and Renderings
Make sure the cabinet maker can produce drawings and/or renderings of what you think you are getting. Ninety percent of all botched jobs are because the homeowner and contractor were not on the same page. Literally! Get someone who can show you what you’re getting – floor plan, elevations, sections. Don’t be afraid to ask, “What is this?” A good cabinet contractor will take the time to explain what you are looking at.

sexy woman workerOh yeah, one more thing. Just in case you guys are looking for the same nice qualities that my wife finds so compelling, here’s a picture of a craftsperson who I would recommend, if you can find someone like her. If she’s got a C-6 (license, I mean), why not?

Photo of author

About Brad

Brad Baker is Vice President of Operations at Miller Woodworking in the Los Angeles area, designers and builders of custom cabinetry and interior millwork for the rich and famous. They make the impossible, and their work has been featured in fancy schmantsy architectural glossies more than a few times. All that high end creative stuff aside, he maintains a strong spiritual belief that the real sign of a good woodworker is all 10 fingers. He and his wife Ann Baker co-write for HomeFixated. Ann is CEO of Publicity Pros, a firm that provides “All Things Publicity” services and training for small businesses. She’s a hopeless nerd who revels in anything and everything having to do with the technology of attracting attention. And, no joke, she loves to bake.

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