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Buying a new kitchen, what to look for and what to avoid when buying a new kitchen

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Nightmares – how to avoid them

What to look for and what
to avoid when buying a new kitchen


I recently received the following query from a
disillusioned and frustrated visitor to my site.

“How can I minimize the possibility of entering the
nightmare of bad installers, being abandoned by the showroom and wishing
I’d never embarked on the whole kitchen thing?”

Many others view the same expedition with similar
trepidation but you can avoid the stresses associated with choosing a
new kitchen. Here are my tips.

The Showroom

You are browsing the showroom nursing your ambitions
to find the kitchen you’ve always wanted. Careful not to draw attention
to yourself – after all, you have read all the horror stories, watched
all the TV exposures and everywhere you go in search of your dream
kitchen you feel a little like a lamb being led to the slaughter.

Have you entered the lion’s den? Well no, I don’t
think so. The good news is that there is a wealth of knowledgeable,
helpful, courteous and efficient people in a kitchen showroom near you
determined to shake off the bad image generated by some of their
unscrupulous counterparts.

The question is how can you distinguish a
sweet-talking salesperson from a dedicated professional? The truth is –
it is difficult, but with a little preparation and sound knowledge you
will be in a better position to prise yourself away from the clutches of
eager ‘Arthur Daleys’.

Researching the
market on the internet

Today the resources at your disposal mean that
research is much easier. Most people own a computer and have access to
the Internet where there is an abundance of consumer web sites detailing
the companies and the sales methods to avoid.

There are also a growing number of sites offering good advice and
discussion forums and newsgroups provide an excellent way of determining
the wheat from the chaff.

The reality is that all your research can be done in
the comfort of your own home whereas before you connected to the net,
the only research possible was trawling the showrooms for days on end
before tiring of the confusion. Many purveyors of the old method ended
up buying the kitchen hastily through sheer exhaustion and desperation.

The Internet also provides a source for finding the
goods you want at the best price and a host of sites are proving popular
by dedicating their search engines to scour the net in search of the
best deal. Indeed, kitchen appliances were once a means of generating
great profit for many retailers but a growing number of competitive
internet appliance sellers means that now, even trade prices of
appliances are being undercut by certain web retailers.

Why should I buy
your product?

Contacting manufacturers to find out why you should
buy their products before you actually do is a facility most of them
invite but consumers rarely choose to use it. But by doing so you
strengthen their commitment to you by ensuring personal contact with the
company. All companies have a web presence and most provide contact
details on the site. By contacting the company prior to buying their
products you’re just using the tools at your disposal to ensure a
satisfactory outcome.

Web retailers

Increasing amounts of buyers are finding out how
useful it is to source their
from web retailers and this offers the buyer the comfort of choosing
their kitchen from home, avoiding the conflicting advice you invariably
find from the High St.

A number of reputable net retailers now offer
complete kitchens via the internet and their showrooms are their web
pages but that is technological progress and it is only the dinosaurs
who insist that terrestrial showrooms remain the only source for buyers.
After all, the internet shops are open every minute of every day and
no-one is peering over your shoulder with a look of anxiety in case you
leave the showroom and look elsewhere.

The benefits of online shopping from an established
and respectable site means that customers can get in-depth information
about a product, read feedback from other customers and ask advice from
experts who have fitted the product.

Still some manufacturers remain blinkered on “you
have to touch and feel a product before you will buy it” even though
recent research by a reputable appliance manufacturer told them that 39%
of people canvassed on this belief said they would buy a product costing
more than £500 over the internet. I wonder will they be talked about
like poor old Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister in the 1960s who said
“You know of course that this television thing is just a fad – it will
never catch on”.

There is no substitute for educating yourself on the
various components available to the buyer and no shortage of resources
are available to assist you. For instance certain web sites offer the
potential buyer tips on what to avoid, what to look for and articles on
how to install your own kitchen.

To assist in your quest you can research expert
opinions and articles by entering your queries into an Internet search
engine. The results will provide you with both recommendations and
criticisms of the large variety of products available.

The above may sound like a blatant recommendation for using the internet
as your new marketplace when seeking a kitchen, it isn’t, but I don’t
believe that quality only exists on the High Street.

For those not impressed with the Internet there
remains a wealth of excellent terrestrial retailers offering quality
goods, services and web sites.

What should I ask?

Armed with a new found knowledge you can begin your
buying crusade with confidence in your ability to prevent the wool being
pulled over your eyes. To prevent this happening here are a few tips:

  • Check the credentials of the company you buy the
    kitchen from – ask for contact details of previous customers. Don’t be
    swayed by adverts – be swayed by previous work
  • To ensure longevity of your kitchen – go for
    quality cabinets -this will prove more cost effective- choose cabinets
    of 18mm/19mm width and solid backs.
  • Drawers should be metal-sided with solid
    base back (avoid hardboard in both cabinet and drawers – they will warp
    in time). Anti-slam drawers are an innovation currently proving popular.
  • Research on some facts – there is no
    substitute for speaking with a knowledge of the criteria you are looking
  • Try to make a personal contact within the
    company – who will visit at least once during the course of installation
    and again on completion.
  • Collaborate with the designer on your
    visions and requirements so they may be incorporated into the plans.
  • Avoid cold sales techniques they may end up
    burning you.
  • Verify that all kitchen items arrive
    undamaged before allowing commencement.
  • If installation is included in your package,
    withhold at least 20% of the fee until everything is complete – this
    will ensure that any missing items will be fitted before final payment
    is made. If a company disagrees with this don’t use them.
  • Draw up a works schedule to ensure
    synchronisation – make sure everyone involved works follows this, i.e.
    all building works completed to a schedule before installing your
  • Speak to your allocated kitchen fitter
    before the installation to discuss the time, date and key arrangements
    (if appropriate) and of course brewing facilities.
  • Raise any concerns with the kitchen fitter
    whenever they appear rather than waiting till completion

Value for your

The core of any kitchen is formed around the three
vital components, cabinets, appliances and worktops. Having the ability
of identifying quality of these components is a skill I would strongly
advise all buyers to acquire before embarking on their mission.

Kitchens are no different to other industries in
that quality products come at greater expense but it pays to have the
ability to recognise quality before handing over the money.

The important thing for you is that you receive
quality goods and services at a fair cost. The important thing for most
retailers is that they win your custom and you then spread the word. As
the adage goes – If the services completed are of a high standard you
will tell a friend or neighbour but if the standard is poor you will
tell a crowd.

The message to all consumers is to ‘gen up’ and
play a part in removing the cooks who have been spoiling the broth for
so long.

Hints and Things endeavours to provide general information which we hope you
will find useful. In no circumstances should the information we provide be
construed as Hints and Things providing you with specific advice in relation
to your own circumstances, or on the suitability for you personally, of any
product or service referred to in this article.