Prep work for a successful kitchen cabinet installation begins well before the cabinets arrive on site; before rough-in, even. It all starts with a solid design by a good designer who is familiar with the usual issues—and who knows how to avoid them. For example, it’s the designer’s job to know how the vent for a kitchen sink will be run when the sink is located underneath an 8-foot-wide window. A good designer will make sure that the installer has enough filler to prevent cabinet drawers from being blocked by 1-inch-thick back-banded door casings and that there is a spot on a kitchen island for the electrical outlets required by code. Having a good working relationship with an experienced kitchen designer is crucial and is why most builders tend to work with only one or two cabinet shops.

On any kitchen—whether in a new house or as part of a remodeling project—I start by laying out the cabinets in full scale on the floor with a marker prior to rough-in based on the designer’s plan. This way, I can make sure that the cabinets will fit within the given space. Drawing the cabinet layout on the floor also gives the clients a chance to visualize how their kitchen will look in real space, and it’s a great way to show the mechanical trades where things should go.

During my walk-throughs with the subcontractors, we mark the floor and walls with the locations of everything (it’s helpful to work with the same company rep each time). Doing this also gives everyone a chance to double-check that things will meet code when done.

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