Documenting Work

Taking photos of your cabinet installs could help you out some time, in case someone else comes along and disturbs or damages things. May 11, 2011

I have a situation that I have never encountered before. We build high end custom residential cabinetry and we are used to working with other sub trades who are accustomed to working high end as well. I'm am currently working on a project where the owner brought me in (I built all the cabinetry in his last house) and hired a general contractor who builds using budget subs. We installed our cabinetry, (this particular cabinet had a wall right and finished left end) of course making sure that all the criteria was met, level, plumb, solid to the wall and very importantly our gaps were perfect (frameless-flush overlay).

After finishing and stone I inspected our cabinet again and was shocked when our gaps were way off and noticed that our cabinet was leaning away from the wall (at the finished end) 1/4" at the top and 0" at the base. Upon further inspection I noticed several mounting screws of our cabinets were gone! Our cabinet had been racked to match up to the stone! I have never seen nor heard of this practice. This ceasar stone person is accustomed to working in the lower end market and I was just wondering if this was common practice? Have any of you other cabinet making brothers run into this situation before?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor M:
I'm assuming that you are referring to a base cabinet. I never came across anything like that. What I have seen is shims used to level the counter top. Even if your cabinets are perfectly level they will shim to get their seams to line up. Some company will fix any problem with the cabinets so that they can get their job done, but they have to get the okay from the GC.

From contributor C:
I agree. Looking at his message it seems it was a base cab since he mentioned the countertop. Anyway, I've heard of this happening with low-mid range counter installers who need to get the job done quickly and where tolerances aren't as critical.

From contributor Y:
I have run into this on occasion, and it sure makes me mad! Like yourself, I do higher-end cabinetry, and although it is very rare, I have had this same exact problem a few times in my career. From what I could deduce, it happened simply because the counter top guys were complete hacks and were trying to fix their screw ups quickly instead of making the repair or adjustment correctly.

From contributor W:
I keep a digital slr camera with me at all times and photo document all before and all after events. Recently we were called back to replace several gloss p-lam (dumb designer) tops in a commercial office situation, they were scratched pretty bad. They also had been in place about six weeks. After we were done I received a call about the billing for replacing the tops. The GC said they were scratched and they came that way! I politely produced photos of a sink laying on top of the tops with all of the trap and metal from the facet still attached and another with loose ceiling grid and other sub items on them. The owner told him to pay me and I have orders for more. Covering yourself covers them too!

From the original questioner:
I'm comforted in knowing I'm not alone here, of course I'm very sorry for your misfortune at having gone through this experience. It's disappointing to know that one person will undermine someone else’s work just to get theirs done economically. I'm also assuming that this is one of the ramifications that we suffer when the budget guy under prices his work.

From the original questioner:
Your idea of taking photos of my work after installation is great. I'm used to working with great general contractors who will only hire qualified subs, but like you said, covering my butt will cover theirs too! I think I will make sure to make my camera a part of my installation tool set!

From contributor W:
The camera has helped for a thousand reasons, one of the best is the ability to show the guys in the shop the conditions prior to install or show if there was a change between field measure and actual install. Again there are a thousand reasons. Most all I work with are happy to see it! The few who have expressed concern usually turned out crooked for some reason or another.

From contributor S:
I have seen all kinds of things on jobs. Every time I am about to say "now I've seen it all" I am proven wrong. As above, document your work both with photos and with the GC and if applicable the homeowner. That way if anything is awry you can go back to the offending sub and either have them correct it or back charge them. There is nothing more frustrating or disheartening then when another sub shows that level of disrespect.

From contributor R:
I once had one of my best contractors who liked to install the cabinetry (this is after I'd supplied them with 20 plus custom jobs over several years) that when he did not have screws for the install he'd just take them out of my cabinets!