After frustrating experiences with a few kitchen remodeling jobs that took longer than scheduled, contractor Robert Amberson in Tempe, Ariz., decided to streamline his operation, and offer the “1 Week Kitchen.” He read about remodelers offering bath remodels completed in one week and thought he could do the same for kitchens.
The crew has even completed some kitchens in two days, including one with 11 new cabinets and a countertop. “We walked in on Tuesday morning, removed all the cabinets, scraped the walls, and put up new cabinets. The next day we installed the countertops, hooked up the plumbing, installed a new sink, faucet, and disposal, and put the appliances back in place by 4 p.m.,” Amberson says.
WITHIN PARAMETERS For a kitchen remodel to be completed in one week, it must meet certain requirements. The salesperson decides if projects are suitable. The projects do not include moving structural walls or construction work such as removing soffits or nonstructural walls, or cutting an opening. Such work is done a few days before the week begins. A contract clause states that the one-week schedule is void if the crew uncovers structural defects.
Also, the clock does not start until all the products are delivered. The design and selection process usually takes a few weeks — mostly because of cabinet manufacturer lead times that range from three to eight weeks. Within that time, the homeowners choose all the other materials.
The company's crews prepare the site, then remove the old cabinets and install new ones. A separate crew handles all granite or solid surfacing countertop installations. “We don't have to wait for each specialty to come in after each part of the job is done,” Amberson says. “Having my own crews is key — I'm in control of the schedule.”
Countertops have been the biggest challenge. Most fabricators create a template after the cabinetry has been installed, then return in a few weeks to install the top. With the one-week kitchen, fabricators pre-make the countertop and bring it in after the base cabinets are installed.
“I had a lot of resistance from local fabricators when I wanted to do this,” Amberson says. “But I finally found a fabricator willing to try it.” He creates a template based on project drawings. “We've had only one issue where we marked the wrong sink location. So now we cut the sink hole on site.”
KITCHEN MARKET When the company first began advertising the program this past April, homeowners and other construction professionals were skeptical. Amberson says most of the misunderstanding comes from people who think the one-week time starts at the company's first visit. “We have to explain that it starts once everything has arrived at our warehouse,” he says.
When homeowners call, the office staff qualifies the project. “We can do full-service kitchens within limits,” Amberson says. “If it's too complex, I turn it over to other contractors.”
Most of the company's projects are in 1,200-to-2,000-square-foot homes that are 15 to 30 years old. Project costs range from $8,000 to $20,000. “It's a wide market that is overlooked,” Amberson says. The company has earned $500,000 from its one-week kitchen sales since the program started six months ago.
If the company does not complete the project within a week, the client receives a 7.5% rebate. It has only paid the fee twice. “One time a countertop fell off the truck and another time a cabinet fell off the trailer on the way to the jobsite. It happens,” Amberson says. “We apologize and pay the rebate. We want clients to understand that we are putting our money where our mouth is.”