If the kitchen is the heart of a home, then you expect kitchens in new construction houses to be brilliant. Richmond American's model home kitchen is just that. The price tag for that kitchen is ridiculous. Here's how I replaced cheap kitchen cabinets in my new home, with better cabinets that are beautiful and functional.
Home buyers need to understand that model homes are advertisements like the ones you see in magazines. They include lots of upgrades (think “more money”) to encourage buyers to put down a deposit on their new home.
Looks though, can also be deceiving when you're not familiar with what you're looking at. Here's what most home buyers probably missed when looking at this kitchen:
- These cabinets aren't wood, they're made from thermofoil (learn more about Aristokraft's thermofoil kitchen cabinets). Thermofoil wraps a flexible vinyl material over medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Oh, did I mention these cabinets are an upgrade that probably costs about $5,000.
- There's too little storage besides the pantry, in this smallish kitchen. It probably works for two people who only use the house for a few months each year. Living here year round you'll need more storage and the extra 6 linear feet (base and wall cabinets plus a corner pantry) costs $2,100.
- Kitchen includes many upgrades including quartz counter tops (roughly $3,000), gourmet kitchen with wall ovens, stainless range hood and appliances (guessing more than $5,000) … plus backsplash.
Cheap Kitchen Cabinets in Richmond American Homes
It took a week to confirm I could design my own kitchen with better cabinets for less that Richmond's price. Here's what I learned:
- Quotes for white wood Aristocraft cabinets from a retail kitchen and bath showroom varied. The cheapest kitchen cabinets in white wood were birch, partial overlay cabinets for $7,900. At the high end were full overlay, maple cabinets for $13,200. You can learn more about all 4 estimates from Central Cabinetry here …
- ProSource turned out to be the solution I went with. Their estimates for the same Aristocraft cabinets ranged from maple, partial overlay for $4,600 to maple, full overlay for $5,900. ProSource is where customer home builders and remodelers go for their cabinets, flooring and so much more.
Using the ProSource numbers, here's how I estimated Richmond American's markup at 200% markup over the cost of the free cabinets (pictured above) included in the base house price.
- Started with ProSource pricing for partial overlay cabinets … $4,600.
- Subtracted 10% upcharge for painted cabinets, bringing the price down to … $4,200.
- With Richmond's bulk purchasing discount estimated conservatively at 30%, their cost would be would … $3,000.
This means the $8,900 upgrade quote has 200% profit over Richmond America's cost of $3,000.
Cheap Kitchen Cabinets Gone After Closing!
The closing finally happened (maybe I should have delayed further?) and we got to work on demo. We removed all the cheap cabinets, counter tops, sinks and faucets within a few hours of the closing. Here's my demo team plus handyman Nathan (taking the photo) after the kitchen was empty except for the stove.
It took a few more days to rip out all the flooring. Then the painters came in followed by the tile guys who installed wall-to-wall, wood like planks. Then we were ready to install my real kitchen, yeah!
Upgraded Kitchen Cabinets Replace Cheap Builder Cabinets
Oops, the tile guys needed more time so my cabinet installer had to make an extra trip to the house to unbox and inspect all the cabinets. That's because the timeframe to report shipping damage is only a few weeks. It was funny seeing all the cabinets sitting in the great room, mixed in with furniture.
Beautiful Cabinets Must Also Be Functional
Now that the basic kitchen is done, we're working on items to make the room even more functional. Before we install the backsplash, we're replacing all the ugly wall outlets with electrical strips sitting just below the wall cabinets. On the side wall and home office, the strips with outlets and USB charging ports will sit on the wall, just above the countertops.
There are more surprises that I want to share with you in the next week or two. For now here's a sneak preview of my new knife storage in a pull-out cabinet to the left of the stove.