When you’re looking for a new kitchen you will find it very difficult to wade your way through the swamp of marketing and advertising speak. Everyone wants to tell you how their kitchen is best, and how you will never get a better deal than the one on offer today.
Please don’t be fooled and hooked by some of the nonsense you will see and hear.
Before you even start to look around have a good think about exactly what you want or need. When armed with some thoughts and ideas of your requirements you can start to ignore the irrelevant and focus in on the things which matter to you.
These might well include a dishwasher, a flip-down television and 6 months interest free credit, but with your priorities sorted you can start to concentrate on what is important for your new kitchen.
Your New Kitchen
This is the key. Your kitchen. Two important words, and as you set out to compare products and deals remember them.
The kitchen is for you. Focus on your likes and needs, and the requirements of your family or your individual living circumstances. You can read more at getting the design right.
You are buying the kitchen. Think about what a kitchen means to you. A new kitchen can be many things to different people, but it should always be an asset in your home and add value to your lifestyle. A kitchen is much more than a collection of components, it is the finished product, it will be part of your life, so look beyond the features and benefits, the price and the gadgets, try to see and feel the finished kitchen in your home and how it will relate to you, your family and your general lifestyle. Thanks for the image to Cynthia Weber.
Let’s look at price.
Naturally price is always high on everyone’s agenda, and we really do appreciate the importance of price when you are looking around for your new kitchen. But you really should not buy a kitchen on grounds of price only. Price comparisons can be very misleading.
Always bear in mind that everyone wanting to part you from your money is fully aware of how much emphasis people put on price and they will play on this as much as they can, trying to make their offer look like the best deal you will find. When you understand some of their techniques you can start to see through them and discover the whole truth.
There are three golden rules to remember when you are looking at the price:
- Look at the bottom line. Huge discounts may seem attractive but often they have no base in reality, when the list price is grossly inflated. Forget the discount percentage and look at the figure you have to pay!
- What is included in the price?Are all the items you want included, and if the cost is for installation too, are there likely to be any installation extras?
- Consider the value.The best price does not always represent the best value, and equally a more expensive option will not necessarily be better for you.
A big complication is that you will find lots of kitchens look very similar but the prices are vastly different. You may often think that different suppliers are quoting very different prices for the same thing. This will rarely be the case. There can be massive differences in the methods and materials of construction, the type of finish, the quality and longevity of fittings and the likely service life of the kitchen. This is where your own wants and needs become very important, as you are the only person who can really know if the more expensive produce is worth the extra price to you. In your case the cheaper one might be just as good. This is where you need to see value rather than just price.
In the kitchen world, price does not always increase in line with quality. There are cheaper products which are great quality, and also expensive products which are really just eye candy. You need to be careful and look closely at exactly what is on offer. Our Kitchens Examined section will provide much more detail.
Always Visit some independent studios.
Lots of people take the view that their local kitchen studio will be too expensive. This perception can arise when you see the interesting, different displays, and maybe when you see a lack of price cards in the showroom. Please avoid this mistake. Your local independent kitchen dealer will normally be an expert in the field so will get the best of advice, and you will get great value too. Don't believe all the discount and special offer nonsense which you will see from the big DIY chains, your local independent dealer will offer you a competitive deal too. Check them out, be honest about your budget and they will design a kitchen to meet your needs and wants at a price you feel comfortable with.
What is on offer?
This can be difficult to establish sometimes, and is where you need to cut through the sales patter and general gobbledegook to see what lies beneath. You will find some very convincing salespeople telling you all sorts of great things but you should try hard to uncover the truth.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think they sound daft. You are the customer and you are entitled to know what you are getting for your money.
Make sure that what you are shown is what is being quoted for. Kitchens are notoriously complex and can be customised in so many different ways that you will rarely see in a single showroom display exactly the same combination of products as you end up with at home. This is, of course, one of the truly great facets of kitchen design today, where products can be tailored to your individual taste, but it also offers a massive opportunity for misunderstanding. Rarely will you be deliberately misled, but it is very much in your interest to ensure you fully understand your quotation.
Problem areas are common with worktop choices, handles, lighting and of course appliances including sinks and taps. There is so much choice that no showroom could display all the options, so you need to use your imagination sometimes. A typical misunderstanding could occur when you view a display with granite worktops, but your quotation is for laminate. The price difference will be significant, perhaps £1000 or more, even in a smallish kitchen, so you need to understand the detail.
It is these details which make it very difficult to make simple price comparisons between one dealer and another. You may have looked at that display with the granite worktops and not really registered that the salesperson explained the quotation was for laminate, so when another dealer gives you a similar price but has laminate worktops on his display, you might think the first deal was better. The details are very, very important to understand.
Installation is another area which covers an extensive range of activities. This is wide open to misunderstandings. If you have a deal which includes installation, and you are shopping around, make sure you know exactly what is included in the installation. If the detail is not explained for you, then ask. See our installation section for a fuller explanation.
How do I make realistic comparisons ?
This is where your own needs and wishes are of the most importance. You are buying a new kitchen and will want a great looking, practical and functional addition to your home. You know best how you will use your kitchen, if you have a family, pets or entertain lots. You might not cook a lot, or you might cook and bake every day. Only you can know what is going to suit your lifestyle the best.
The important word is YOU.
So first consideration is who is listening to what you want, asking you relevant questions about your lifestyle and thinking about what facilities and features will suit you. In other words, take a good look at how you are greeted and treated by potential suppliers, and compare their levels of interest in you. That will help you assess the likely level of service you might expect if you place an order.
Compare how you are treated at the start of the design process. Again, who seems to be asking the relevant questions? Are you offered a site survey? Is your kitchen designed and priced from your own measurements which you brought with you? If you are being quoted for installation, and given a price before your house is surveyed the alarm bells should ring. It’s quite OK if you get an estimate which will be firmed up after a home visit, but nobody can give you a firm installation price without seeing your kitchen, it’s just not possible.
Now don’t get the wrong end of things here, most kitchen people are very genuine, and while there are always some shady characters around, the vast majority are well intentioned. One big problem is because there are no qualifications in existence for kitchen designers, it is very difficult for the customer to recognise good advice when they get some. If you see a retailer who is an FKBD member, or where staff are accredited by the FKBD, you can be assured that you are talking to someone who knows their job. There are also a couple of other trade associations who check and monitor suppliers, and their members will usually be found to be of a high calibre too.