There is more choice of where to buy your new kitchen than you probably imagine. To help narrow down your selection, first consider what level of service you are looking for. You may simply be after a few replacement kitchen units as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Or are you looking for a complete turn-key service, including additional building work with everything project managed right down to the last detail? Also, despite their promises, not every retailer will look after any after-sales issues and problems.
Here’s an important question, how can you tell which kitchen retailer will offer you the best experience and be able to look after your kitchen project the best? Unfortunately, the UK kitchen industry is unregulated, so it’s very difficult for you to be certain that the retailer you are speaking to has all the correct skills and experience that you need. So what’s the answer? Firstly, check how long the retailer has been in business, check any online reviews to see if there is anything to be concerned about. Our advice is not to worry too much if there are one or two negative reviews among the good ones as not even the very best retailer is going to please everyone, plus beware of fake reviews. If most of the reviews are negative, then walk away as no matter how good the retailer seems, there is always another retailer around the corner. If you still have any doubts, ask the retailer for details of some of their recent clients and ask them directly for their feedback. Once you have narrowed down your list of potential retailers, then take some time, look at their website and book a visit to their showroom.
But before you rush out to visit your chosen kitchen retailer, take plenty of time to research your new kitchen. Create a ‘Wish List’ made-up of the ‘must haves’ and ‘possible haves. Consider your current kitchen, what features do you want to keep and what needs to change. Look at some of the many home design web sites such as Houzz for inspiration and read some of the specialist kitchen magazines available. These will soon bring you up to speed on what’s new and give you plenty of ideas for your new kitchen.
As you go through your pre-buy research, it may be useful to create a Mood Board. This is typically a collage of images, textures, colours, and descriptions. It’s perfect for gathering inspiration, sketching out and pitching ideas, and communicating the feelings you want to evoke. Once you’ve started your Mood Board, you can easily share your ideas with your kitchen specialist. This will help your retailer understand exactly what you are looking for, select the right products and create a kitchen design that meets all your requirements.
My Kitchen Specialist Top Tip
Visit at least three or four kitchen retailers, ideally book an appointment with each of them. That way they will be expecting your visit and will ensure you are looked after by the right person, otherwise if they are already tied up with another customer you may have to make a return visit.
What to expect on your visit
You will be met at the showroom either by a salesperson or a kitchen designer. They will discuss your new kitchen and show you around the showroom picking out ranges and features that may form part of their design. Normally another meeting will be scheduled with you so that they can present their design ideas to you in the form of an initial design proposal. This is usually prepared for free and with no obligation to buy, but make sure you check this first, as some retailers do charge a fee for this service. At this second meeting they will present to you their initial design and costing. Based upon your feedback, further revisions may be needed until it meets with your approval. Some retailers offer a useful sample service where you can take a sample the selected colour and finishes home with you so you can see how they look in your own home. There is sometimes a small deposit to pay for this service that is repaid once you return the samples. Once everything is finalized, usually the retailer will draw up a contract which once signed commits you to buying the kitchen from the retailer.
Check the contract very carefully, do not be rushed into signing it. Make sure everything that was agreed is included. Just because it was verbally agreed before does not mean that it will be included. The contract should make clear exactly what is included and excluded in the quoted price. For example, is the removal of your old kitchen included? What about electrics, decoration, and other services? When will the work start and finish? What about payment terms? This is another benefit of using an independent kitchen specialist, as unlike the national retail chains, they do not expect full payment upfront. Once a deposit is paid, there is usually a second payment once the goods are delivered and particularly if the retailer is arranging installation, a final payment upon completion. This means that you retain some control over the finances and do not make the full payment until you are satisfied. Unlike the national retailers, where once you have made the full upfront payment, you are totally in their hands. Ask about product guarantees and after sales service in case of an issue in the future. Now is the best time to get all this sorted out, as it may be difficult once your kitchen has been delivered and work has started. Once things get underway, make sure that any later changes or additions are confirmed to you by the retailer in writing and you are informed of any additional costs.
If the retailer is undertaking the installation, then a site survey will be scheduled where everything will be checked to make sure that the kitchen will fit correctly. Some retailers employ their own fitters. However, it is increasingly common for retailers to use third party, sub-contact installers. If this is the case, ask about how long the retailer has worked with this installation team. The longer the relationship the better. If the retailer has not used them before, ask for another more experience team to be allocated to your project. Following the site survey, it may be necessary to make some final changes to the design and price. A final set of drawings will be produced, signed, and agreed and then your kitchen will be ordered, and delivery and installation dates agreed.
My Kitchen Specialist Top Tip
Ask the retailer who will be project managing your kitchen supply and installation. This is sometimes the owner of the business or someone else. This is a key person who will co-ordinate everything and make sure that the project runs smoothly and will keep you updated on everything.
One of the most important aspects to delivering your perfect new kitchen is the kitchen installation team. Let’s just say that there are ‘kitchen fitters’ and then there are ‘kitchen installers’, not all are the same, and their quality of work varies greatly. Some kitchen fitters may in truth be simply general builders who maybe fitting a roof one day and a kitchen the next, probably not the ideal person to be installing your dream kitchen. Kitchen installation is a skilled job and needs to be carried out by an experienced fitter. In additional there are many important laws and regulations regarding electrical and gas work, so again check that the installers have all the right qualifications, if you are in any doubt do not let them proceed. You can check if your fitter is registered as ‘Gas Safe’.
My Kitchen Specialist Top Tip
Kitchen installation is where most issues can arise. Using the fitting service offered by an independent kitchen retailer may be a little more expensive than using a fitting company found on the internet. However, it’s worth paying that little bit extra for the peace of mind of knowing that your kitchen will be installed by an experienced team and if there are any problems, the retailer will sort them out for you. If you use your own fitter and there’s an issue, you may be left to sort it out which could be time-consuming and expensive.