We are getting kitchen cabinets made by a local custom cabinet maker.
The total cost of the project is about $20k.
We have just asked him whether the two island pieces can be stained with
a different dyes (he uses dyes rather than stains). He said that it
would cost an extra $750.
I did not expect to incur an extra cost here, so I was very surprised by
this answer. Before I ask a follow up question, I'd like to educate
myself as to what might the reason for the extra cost. My naive thought
was that there should not be an extra cost to closing a jar, putting it
back on the shelf and opening a different jar, but clearly there is more
to it than that.
What is it?
Thanks in advance,
Well, the real answer is in the contractor's head & you were just
talking to him- so the immediate response should have been a simple
'How come so much?'.
1. He sends the cabinets out to get stained & there is a minimum $500
fee from 'his guy'.
2. He hates cleaning his spray gun.
3. He realized he under-estimated the job & he's looking for someplace
to make it up.
4. He just wants you to leave him alone so he can do things just as
5. the stain is already on the cabinets and he'd have to replace them.
Indeed. He probably low-balled the original bid to get the job, now
he see's a chance to increase his profit margin. We do it all the
time with government contracts: low-ball the bid, then make it up
with change orders.
He knows he's got a live one on the hook.
By the way, I took the liberty of posting this in rec.woodworking (a very
busy newsgroup). I see you've tried alt.woodworking. If I recall, the rec
group is much busier. But I could be wrong.
I, also, would like to know his rational for that additional cost.
Kind of sounds like the decorator, who was redecorating my brother's
house. She had made a list of things to be done. My brother decided
one item was to be scratched from the list. His bill, to that point,
denoted a 2 hours charge for scratching the item off the list. He
fired her! He hasn't been returning her subsequent phone calls.
In general with contractors it seems best to finalize your
requirements before asking for a quote. Then decide if the total
price is worth the finished product. If you get into "how much did
each piece cost" or "what will it cost if I change this" after the
quote that will lead to frustration. If you change anything that is
an opportunity to charge you for the change.
Theoretically nice but clearly one never can fully appreciate or
anticipate every possible nuance in any project of any size...
But, change orders are the heart of many operations...in the former life
in the nuclear utility (vendor) business there was one particular vendor
that was notorious for low-balling initial bids and always ending up w/
higher end costs w/ change-order costs than the highest initial bid.
With time it became so apparent our sales engineers developed a whole
presentation policy based on their past performance. Not easy to deal
with as individual, of course...
It should be written in stone _in the contract_ that folks who can't
make up, or change, their minds need to pay ... not the contractor.
And, as it should be.
Decide, after the quote and agreement, that you want a different type of
Lazy Susan in a corner cabinet, or arbitrarily change the size of the
refrigerator or microwave, can cause two entire walls of cabinets to be
redesigned, both uppers and lowers. Something as seemingly simple as
changing the counter top thickness can necessitate a complete redesign.
Depending upon the underlying material a particular color being applied
can sometimes mean extra steps in application, number of coats,
difference in top coats, etc. Some dyes are expensive and not readily
available in all locales. This can easily double the contractor's costs
if a color you originally specified has been purchased, shipped and paid
Then take into account that many, if not most, of these jobs are based
on a materials cost plus a percentage factor for overhead, labor and
profit ... change your mind about something already purchased and you
understand how quickly a change can become seemingly "unreasonable" on
While the OP's original problem seems a bit out of line on the surface.
Best thing is to simply ask for an explanation of the charges for the
What is a given is that a contract without clear cut provisions for
"change orders" is dangerous for both parties.
First off, changes after the fact do cost money. FWIW I am having a home
built by a know builder. Adding 1 more ceiling fan to the previously agreed
on 8, resulted in the extra price for the fan, plus a $350 admin. fee. They
absorbed the admin. fee with out me asking, as a courtesy.
But $750 does sound high unless some of this work is being "farmed out" to
other contractors, and or he is getting a discount for materials all in the
FWIW, when buying my last 2 cars, from two different dealerships owned
by the same firm, they wrote up the invoice with a $150 "administrative
fee". Both printed new invoices without that fee upon "request". Hope
that may save someone some $.
Sometimes with changes you have to mark it up. Sometimes you eat it
and shut up for the good of the "cause" I have to say in both
instances above they seem a little high. I glad swingman's guy ate it
$750 sound way high IMHO, but I'm not the one doing it...
If the fee is in the contract, there is no argument. It could be a
legitimate fee to cover the costs of making all the changes,
administratively, that a corporation has to do when they become a
corporation, just to cover their butts. Or it could be that *plus* some
just to keep clients from constantly making changes they consider to be
"no big deal."
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.