Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Common Sense . . . Priceless!

Frequently, readers call or email, and ask me if they can ask a stupid question. As I used to tell my students, when you’re learning about something new, there are no stupid questions, (other than asking if you can ask a stupid question). This especially holds true when it comes to remodeling. However, many a question can be answered by using “common sense”, and if you just think about it for a minute, sometimes the answer just pops into your head.
Defined in the dictionary, common sense is defined as sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. For example, you are about to cross the street and an 18-wheeler (big truck) is barreling down the street towards the intersection. Should you cross or wait for the truck to pass by? If you chose to cross the street you’re probably reading this column in your hospital bed, after being crushed by the truck, because you didn’t use your common sense.
Unfortunately, you can’t go to CVS to buy common sense. You get your allotment when you’re born and that’s it, but, most people have at least a modicum of this priceless attribute. The real trick is to use every bit of it that you were born with, and never ignore it just to save a buck or take the easy way out. You should know better!
So, you’re getting estimates for new semi-custom kitchen cabinets. Diligently, you get three estimates and two are about the same at $10,000 and one comes in at $5,000. What does your common sense tell you? There has to be a reason one estimate is considerably cheaper than the other two. Common sense dictates that you must evaluate what the cabinets are made of, where they are being manufactured, and most importantly, who you are buying them from. Most likely they are made from sub-standard materials, from a country that doesn’t pay its workers a living wage and the dealer has a less than stellar reputation and will probably be long gone before cabinets are delivered or your warranty expires.
Comparing appliance prices is not as complicated as the cost of cabinets, but even the appliance companies are making it more difficult to make “apple to apple” comparisons. If you choose a certain brand of dishwasher from a box store (big home center that’s shaped like box), often it is not the same model as one you find at your local appliance dealer. The model number may be KCMA1223QV34-W1543 for one and KCMA1223OV34-W1543 for the other. Deceptive, isn’t it? (Why can’t the appliance companies call it a model “5” instead of a hundred numbers and letters? But that’s a topic for another article). Check the model numbers carefully if you want an accurate comparison.
Common sense is not limited only to pricing, it has to deal with every aspect of a remodeling project. An equally exciting example is the location of a wine rack in the design of your new kitchen. I’ve had clients insist that it be positioned over the refrigerator (model #X123ABF25Q15a-2b) or next to the dishwasher. Although I’m not a wine connoisseur, my common sense tells me it gets hot over the fridge and next to the dishwasher. Find another place, so your wine won’t turn to vinegar.
One last example before I let you go. When you empty your dishwasher, you can stack several plates on the counter and then bring them all to the cupboard where they are stored. But, you can only carry two glasses at a time, unless you want to risk breaking them. So, which cabinet should the glasses be stored in and which should be used for dishes? Think real hard and let your common sense answer this question for you.
Most of the remodeling basics will be taken care of by your kitchen designer, because with training, experience, and common sense they know what to do. It’s your job to use your common sense when picking the right kitchen designer and contractor. If you choose strictly by price, you usually get what you pay for, and you may end up drinking vinegar.