Planning a major kitchen remodel is romantic, exciting and fun, a creative process full of wish lists and swatches, showroom visits and design consultations. But then comes the nitty-gritty of demolition, reconstruction and installation, and with it dust, noise and sometimes unforeseen problems.
Helping to take the surprises out of the remodeling process, and to make it as pleasant as possible, is what the best remodeling contractors do. At Wilmington’s Markraft Cabinets, a remodeling manager is assigned to every job, to work hand-in-hand with the designer, the installer and the homeowner.
“The key to our business is setting expectations up front,” explained Kelly Smith, Markraft’s vice president of production services. He oversees not just installation, but also follow-through on issues such as warranties and quality control. The remodeling professionals who work under Smith’s direction know that, “Our job is to interact with the homeowner and discuss any issues they may encounter with the designer and the general contractor.”
Unlike some vendors whose designers never see the space they’re planning, Markraft ensures that a three-person team is on site and introduced to the homeowner as the job begins. That team includes the designer, the remodeling manager and the installer who will actually put the cabinets, countertops and other elements in place. “We want the customers to know it’s not just them on their own. We’ll be there to help when decisions have to be made,” Smith said.
Sometimes the first of those decisions comes during demolition, when old cabinets and fixtures are removed. “You don’t know what you’ll find when you’re tearing things out,” Smith observed. That’s one reason Markraft’s installers are chosen for their skills at a variety of construction tasks, not just hanging cabinets. When Smith hires installers for remodeling work, he looks for the sorts of problem-solving skills that the best general contractors have.
Number 1 on Smith’s checklist is people skills. An installer will be in the client’s home, and needs to be able to answer questions, address concerns and listen carefully. “The homeowners are there every morning before the installer gets there,” Smith pointed out, “and will have thoughts they’ll express to the installer.”
Smith outlined a number of expectations that he wants all customers to understand.
One is that the designer and remodeling manager will carefully measure everything in the client’s home before anything is ordered. That will reveal the sorts of things that the most beautifully drawn plans, or carefully composed photographs, don’t show. For example, a corner may have a 91-degree angle, or 89 degrees, instead of a perfectly square 90.
Another expectation is that sometimes products get damaged in shipment. That’s the purpose of warranties and guarantees, Smith said.
One important matter that comes as a surprise to some customers is that granite and other heavy slab countertop materials can’t be cut until a super-accurate template is created, and that can be done only after the supporting cabinets are in place. That means a typical lag of a few weeks between cabinet installation and finished countertops.
For all those reasons, “that’s where that service and warranty issue comes in,” Smith says. Markraft provides a one-year warranty on installation. Depending on the make, cabinets and other installed pieces come with manufacturers’ warranties ranging from five years to 100 years.
Having someone to call, whether it’s a week or three years after the job is done, is important to customers who are making major investments in their homes. “If there’s a challenge that arises, we’re going to take care of it,” Smith said.
You can talk with professional designers about your remodeling wish list at Markraft’s Design Center. Markraft’s designers do consultations by appointment, but drop-in visitors are always welcome to browse. The Design Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road.
Since 1985, Markraft has specialized in cabinet and countertop design and installation in residential and commercial construction and custom remodeling. To learn more about Markraft, go to www.markraft.com. Contact Markraft at 910.762.1986 and like Markraft on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkraftCabinets.