What should I look out for when visiting a kitchen showroom – are there any warning signs I should know about, things to avoid agreeing to, or specific questions to ask? Lindsay Blair, consumer editor of Real Homes, explains how to equip yourself with knowledge when buying a kitchen.
Q: What should I look out for when visiting a kitchen showroom – are there specific questions to ask to ensure I get the best deal for me?
A: ‘Do your research on the retailer before heading to the store, including reading reviews and seeking out any previous customers you may know. When you are there, ask as many questions as you want about the products, services provided, installation practices and accreditations and ensure you receive thorough answers – alarm bells should start ringing if any question relating to the product or services is avoided.
‘Ask: does the retailer offer an installation service and who are their installers? What credentials, especially gas and electric, do they hold? Do they have valid public liability insurance and do they belong to a trade association? More importantly, find out if the showroom provides a survey service to help you understand the true costs of an installation, including if gas, water and electric systems need to be updated or if structural alterations need to take place to ensure your dream kitchen can be successfully installed. A lot of homeowners may want to use their builder to install the kitchen as well as build an extension, but this really should be carefully considered, as the skills may not always transfer.
‘Finally, go on your gut instinct. If you’re unhappy or unsure for any reason, don’t be rushed into making a decision. If you feel pressurised into making a quick decision, step back, review and seek advice or an alternative, comparable quote.’
Damian Walters, chief executive officer, The Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installers (IKBBI)
‘You should ask for a breakdown of the budget when buying a new kitchen, rather than just one final price and be clear about what needs to be paid when. Be sure that you know what is included in the price and who is responsible for the design and installation. Also ask about the aftercare service and any guarantees on furniture and appliances for added peace of mind.’
Ruth Ward, Kbsa Sales & Marketing Director
Q: How do I get the most out of my relationship when working with a builder or designer?
A: ‘Be clear about your vision and do your research so you won’t be afraid to ask questions about the project. Your builder will appreciate you taking the time to understand what you want from the project, often resulting in a much better working relationship. Make sure you give as much detail as possible at the initial meeting, such as whether your budget allows for materials or labour only, and be clear about what you want – the more specific you are, the easier it will be for your contractor to give you an accurate quote. It’s important to be reasonable and realistic and bear in mind that your builder will be able to let you know what is feasible structurally, which may not always mean you can have exactly as you’d imagined, so you should be prepared to find different solutions, and be flexible with your plans.
‘The next step is to decide on timelines to suit both you and your chosen professional, and make sure that you agree costs and a payment plan in writing before the project starts. It’s also good practice to check if you require planning permission, or if you need to use a surveyor or architect before you begin your project. To give you peace of mind for the duration of the project, ask the tradesperson if he or she has public liability insurance and request to see a copy for your own records. A suitable policy should cover the tradesperson, and everyone else on the property, from a personal injury claim and damage to your property.’
Celia Francis, chief executive officer, Rated People