Wednesday, 17 October 2012

TALKING SHOP: Builder versus kitchen designer

Proprietor of Modern Homes in Leamington Spa, Tina Riley asks why is there a continuing battle between the builder and the kitchen designer?

I have often wondered why and how there is so often a battle of wills between a builder and a designer, when ultimately it should be a case of the client is king. We should be working together to come up with the best solution for our customers.
Now don’t get me wrong, we deal with some fabulous builders with whom we have built up great relationships over the years. They get us involved at the earliest opportunity, from the architect plans. It gives us plenty of time to work with the client and builder together, as opposed to the builder or client who calls us in when walls are plastered, services fitted and all electrical supplies are in the wrong place.

Let us design
Our good builders take advantage of both our expertise and our showroom. They often come and introduce their clients and then let us take over. We find that this can be a benefit to all parties. The builder can get on with what he does best – building – and we can get on with what we do best - designing. And the client gets the best of both worlds!
We, kitchen designers, often have to be extremely flexible to meet our clients’ expectations, so my heart sinks when the client tells me the builder has designed her kitchen. It’s not that I am questioning his ability as a skilled craftsman but kitchen design is a very different discipline to a house building project. We only just manage to keep up-to-date with current trends, new appliances and new furniture units, by working on kitchens every day, so I really don’t expect a builder to be as up-to-date as we are.

Better working together
Then there is the matter of actually working together with some builders, some of whom still seem to have an aversion to dealing with women. Possibly they think we should be washing-up in the kitchen not designing it! So, imagine my surprise on a recent technical survey, to discover a boiler, Megaflow, and heating manifold in the kitchen. This had been discussed and was all going to be in the basement but the plumber decided it would be easier to put it in the kitchen, then neglected to mention it. He uttered my favourite phrase of all time ever “can’t you just cobble the units around them, love!”
Not least, there’s the small matter of when the kitchen should actually be fitted. It doesn’t seem to matter how often I state it should be one of the last jobs. I have been on site to see plasterers working around a high gloss kitchen, electricians standing on brand new worktops and loads of rubbish all over the new off-white porcelain tiled floor!

So my plea to all builders and property developers who may be reading this, please let’s work together. I wouldn’t dream of being able to do your job, so please don’t think that you can do mine!

Are builders your bugbear when designing kitchens, or bathrooms, for that matter. Email the editor Philippa Turrell with your view.

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