Posted by: Mrs. HSH | January 10, 2012

The Home Depot 360

For anyone considering Home Depot for their kitchen remodel…

I’ve waited a while to write this post because I wanted to give us time to digest our kitchen remodel and live with it for a bit before I really analyzed the experience. I also needed some time to stop thinking and/or talking about the kitchen! It’s been about six months since we finished, and surprisingly we do have a few tiny, tiny loose ends that are still being tied up.  But, I can happily report that I am 100 percent in love with my new kitchen – like Lionel Richie Endless Love kind of love with it.  And, I can definitely say that it was worth the two months of takeout and 10 inches of dust that covered everything!

But, let me back up a second and explain exactly what we did. After several bids from several different companies and multiple different scenarios with refacing vs. replacing our cabinets, we decided to “go for it” and gut the entire kitchen, replacing everything! After a great amount of deliberation, we landed on this option because we needed a lot of electrical work and rewiring in the kitchen to bring the house up to code and accommodate a new electrical panel as well as new appliances.  We were also interested in slightly modifying the layout of the kitchen, so the gut job really was the most affordable and practical option for us.

Before

We decided to go with Home Depot because of the one-stop shopping aspect that a big box store could provide as well as the free, one- year financing option they were offering. My parents had also had Home Depot install their cabinets for their new kitchen remodel and were happy with the result, so we had a personal experience to go on. Having saved all our pennies beforehand, we still decided to take advantage of the one- year, no- interest financing option so we could keep some money in the bank in case of unforeseen expenses.  We also decided to go with an independent electrician due to the large amount of electrical work that we needed done. Cost was one of the main drivers affecting our decision to go with Home Depot versus the other, smaller businesses we researched.  Frankly, Home Depot’s estimate was about a third cheaper than the other two estimates. Just to give you an example, the same granite we installed would have cost us nearly $2500 more at the smaller, custom outlet. I realize big box stores aren’t for everyone, but they can offer great deals and financing options, and in this case the price comparison was hard to beat. It was the right combination for us, so we signed on the dotted line (while keeping fingers crossed behind our back).

Demo Day

However, before we signed anything we met with a few kitchen designers at a few different Home Depot stores.  And, I do have to tell you that not all Home Depot kitchen designers are created equal. And, for that matter, not all contractors are created equal either. I highly recommend shopping around until you can find a designer that you feel comfortable working with. They will be your conduit to all contractors and your resource if things do go awry.

After some shopping around, we landed on Shannon, our free Home Depot kitchen designer. She covered all the bases with us and was a pleasure to work with, offering good advice on the design and layout aspect of the process. Once we settled on a design and purchased our materials, we were told it would take about a month or so for the cabinets to be delivered. We opted for a new cabinet line from Martha Stewart, made by Masterbrand. The cabinets fit our design aesthetic, while giving us the peace of mind of being made by the same manufacturer that makes Thomasville and several other well-known big-box cabinet lines. It is not top-of-the-line custom stuff, but a solid, middle- of- the- road option.  After more deliberation, we also decided to upgrade our cabinets from the basic particle board to plywood. We went with laminate in “picket fence” white, but wanted the internal construction to be a more solid material than particle board, which is the basic, cheapest option for the Martha Stewart line. For roughly $500 more, we followed the Consumer Reports recommendation to stay away from the 3/8 inch particle board construction and opted for the plywood upgrade, which is lighter and brings the thickness into line with accepted standards. Again, not for everyone, but we thought that $500 extra was worth the peace of mind.

About a month later, our cabinets arrived and we quickly realized that we had the wrong order; they were indeed particle board and not plywood. Home Depot cited a computer error and took full responsibility, offering us the sun, the moon and the stars to go with the delivery that was sitting in our living room (i.e. a decent discount). It was tempting,  but we stuck to our guns and channeled our inner patience as it took another three and half weeks for the right cabinets to arrive. For me, this was a really frustrating part of the experience. And, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to that have experienced something similiar. This is perhaps one of the drawbacks of dealing with a big-box store.

Wrong Order!

With Home Depot installation services, you are assigned a general contractor who then arranges for all the pertinent sub-contractors to complete their piece of the puzzle.  I would have to say that scheduling all these people was another very frustrating part of the  process. When you are eating takeout or microwaving burritos in your backyard for dinner every night, days tend to feel like weeks. We were generally happy with the workmanship of the parties involved, but sometimes/ often frustrated by their busy schedules and availability, or lack thereof. Our general contractor seemed to be a very busy guy (I’m sure being on retainer with Home Depot helped) and there were days when no work was accomplished, and he was a hard man to get in touch with. This was the most frustrating part of the process for me. I’m sure smaller, independent contractors would win out in this category. All said and done, it took about seven weeks to take apart the kitchen and put it back together. This time includes cabinets, flooring, plumbing, tile, electrical work and inspections. In the scheme of life, just a blip on the radar!

The finished product!

I would cautiously recommend Home Depot to anyone with several caveats:

  • First, know what you are getting. You will be dealing with very busy contractors, with multiple other jobs. If patience is not your virtue, you might want to look elsewhere.
  • Also, you must be on your game, ordering all your materials ahead of time and making them readily available for installation. One small delay can derail timeframes by days, if not weeks! Before each step of the installation, it is good to research what materials are needed. This is where the kitchen designer comes in handy! For example, we had to buy and provide the grout and tile for the laundry room floor. There was also the matter of edging the stairs, and using caulk instead of grout in certain places.  When installing the sink, we needed to provide an air gap and also match the metal drain rink to the sink fixture. Not exactly all the things that instantly come to mind for the kitchen remodel novice.
  • Be realistic about what you are paying for. The workmanship is solid (as it should be), but it’s not Michael Angelo’s Sistine Chapel. But we are not Rockefellers, either.
  • Be your own advocate. Going with the big-box option means no one is going to hold your hand. Ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to call (often) if you are confused about any step in the process.

With these few tips in mind, Home Depot can be a competitive choice for a home remodel! For more before and after pictures, check out our before & after photo gallery.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: