Guidelines Spotlight

A simple review of how the Residential Construction Performance Guidelines address common issues in what is perennially among the most active areas of remodeling industry.

May 31, 2001

Kitchen remodeling is near the top of the list of revenue generators for remodelers. Indeed, the existence of groups such as the NKBA that concentrate in this area is a testament to the volume of kitchen remodeling activity. The Guidelines are particularly useful to avoid potential misunderstandings on kitchen projects.

Alignment of Cabinets

Section 9-21 contains one of the longest discussions in the Guidelines. It addresses the options for dealing with out-of-plumb walls and/or out-of-level floors. Precise measurements to determine deviations from plumb are particularly important before the contract signing. Discuss with the client the degree of deviation as well as the scope of any demolition needed to bring the project within the Guidelines.

Make it clear to the client that the options are to have the cabinets be parallel with the walls and ceiling that are plumb or to be plumb independent of the line of the walls and ceilings. To avoid problems after delivery and installation, make sure the client understands that the final decision on alignment is the client’s.

Drawer and Cabinet Door Operation

As with the other construction components, pre-manufactured cabinets vary in ease of operation. As a matter of course, pre-manufactured cabinets include manufacturer’s specifications as to the amount of force required for normal opening and closing. Because the Guidelines are flexible in this area, it is important to reference those specifications. Any manufacturer’s warranties in this area can be intended for the client and are out of the domain of the remodeler’s warranty.

Countertop Surface Imperfections

Section 9-27 stipulates that countertops should be free of imperfections when the job is accepted. Because countertops and cabinets, both fronts and interiors, are susceptible to cracks, chips, scratches, dents and other imperfections, the entire project should be carefully inspected with the client at completion to note any of these before the warranty period starts. The client should understand that any imperfections not visible during this inspection are acknowledged to be accepted by the client and therefore not subject to review later.

Countertop Levelness

Remodelers encounter out-of-level floors more often than builders do. In Section 9-29, the Guidelines indicate that the allowable deviation from level for a countertop is 3/8 of an inch for every 10 feet.

It is important to have the client assume responsibility for the final determination of whether the countertop will conform to the deviations of the floor. Remodelers should be certain that the client understands that with a tiled backsplash, for example, the deviation from level can be reflected visibly.

As with all areas where subjective decisions are to be made, refer to the Guidelines, explain all options and leave those final decisions to the client.

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