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Contractor didn’t notice damaged part during cabinet installation

6 years ago

I didn’t inspect our new kitchen cabinets before the installation, as we had piles of big and smaller boxes filled two rooms. Before the installation, I told our contractor (who is doing the full kitchen renovation) that the cabinet company would replace any damaged cabinet. In the end of the second day, I saw that the installed large refrigerator panel has a damaged front edge lacking paint and felt rough. The cabinet company would replace it, but the contractor doesn’t want to pull it out, because he had already installed the cabinets next to and above the refrigerator. He offered to paint the damaged edge (we have fine white painted cabinetry) or charge me for the additional work of pulling the panel out and reinstalling a new one. Our contract does not specify that the contractor inspects the cabinets, but I assumed he would routinely do this, as he told stories about damaged cabinets being replaced by manufacturers in his previous projects. What would you advise me to do? Thanks!

Comments (28)

  • PRO
    6 years ago

    Tell him he's getting one, and only one, chance to paint this to your satisfaction. If it doesn't pass, he replaces it on his dime. You can't be any more fair than that.

  • 6 years ago

    Thank you Joseph. The contractor's point is that it was not his job to carefully inspect each cabinet part before the installation. Is he right?

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  • PRO
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Materials should always be inspected after receiving them by the person ordering them. Thatvshould nevthe person receiving them. That’s the role of the designer or GC on a full featured project type job, usually. They order the cabinets, they check them in as they come off the truck, and check them for damage before they go into temporary storage. That way, any damages can be immediately reordered, and it fo a not impact the schedule too negatively.

    Sometimes a GC inexperienced with cabinets wants the cabinet installer involved. But the installer has to be paid for that service. If there’s a GC, he should have been there for the delivery and done that product check in and inspection. It’s required. That’s just what should always happen with a GC on the job. He orders it, he received it, he inspects it.

    If you hired the cabinet company to do the design and the install, then the cabinets, delivery, and the cabinet inspection, is their responsibility, start to finish. That’s the easiest route for people on numerous fronts. One centralized company is responsible for it all.

    If you ordered the cabinets from one company, and then hired the installer separately, then you are acting as the GC on the job, and product inspection is part of the GC job responsibilities. The installer assumes that he shows up and starts installing what has already been inspected and approved.

    If there is hidden damage that was not apparent at the initial inspection, of course a warranty claim is made, and the replacement product is ordered. And the installer charges to make another trip to reinstall the replacement product. Which is one of the reasons that you inspect at delivery.

    kitchen2018 thanked User
  • 6 years ago

    He is right if all he cares about is slapping the kitchen together and collecting his check. A good GC will work with the customer to make sure that the project looks as best as it can when finished.

    I think it is his job not to install damaged parts. He should also show you the damage and give you the option of reordering or attempting an on site repair.

    The two furniture-style side panels for my integrated fridge and freezer were made 3" too long. GC, KD and myself had a conference call to discuss options. Length and scale of the molding pieces was affected as well as the look of the crown and baseboard pieces. KD suggested cutting down the panels at both ends, but if it didn't look good in the end we could order new ones. My GC spend quite a bit of time to figure out how much to take off each end so that the baseboard and crown would look best and also not have the spacing look too different from the other cabinets in the kitchen. He showed me the options and I made the final decision to keep the cut down panels. My GC also knows that I am willing to pay for any additional work that was not part of the original contract.

    kitchen2018 thanked chispa
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    If an installer does not note damage prior to install, they run the risk of being blamed for the damage. So most installers, whether they are also the cabinet provider or not, will inspect each cabinet as they install.

    kitchen2018 thanked Kristin Petro Interiors, Inc.
  • 6 years ago

    Thanks everyone for your opinion! The design was made by KD who ordered cabinets from a big reputable company located in another part of the country, I didn't have an option to hire the cabinet company to install. The GC is responsible for the whole kitchen renovation, he is an experienced cabinet installer. It was the GC who received the cabinets, although I happened to be home. He noticed an issue (fixable) with another cabinet before installing it. But now I feel he wants to finish the job ASAP, instead of pulling out the damaged panel (and the adjacent cabinets) and wait for the new panel to arrive.

  • 6 years ago

    The Cook's Kitchen, thanks for the comment. There were many-many boxes with the cabinets, and neither I or my GC would not be able to open each box just for the inspection, without installing some of the cabinets to free up some space.

  • 6 years ago

    Chispa, thanks for telling about your experience. My GC knows that I am willing to pay for any additional work that was not part of the original contract, and my bill has already grown because of some unexpected issues. But I feel if he would not install the damaged panel, no additional work would be required.

  • 6 years ago

    I would have expected my GC to notice and mention the damaged part prior to install, but I also bought the cabinets through him so he is warranting them.

    kitchen2018 thanked kazmom
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    "The contractor's point is that it was not his job to carefully inspect each cabinet part before the installation. Is he right?"


    No. You give your blessing to everything you install. As I explained earlier, he had two bad choices. What, he may have to eat three hours or so?

    kitchen2018 thanked Joseph Corlett, LLC
  • 6 years ago

    Common sense, in this case, common practice, does not have to be in a contract. You are not paying him to install damaged parts. When he saw a damaged part, he should not of installed it. He tried to play hide & seek & lost.

    It is negligent for an installer to install a damaged piece. Common practice is, when in doubt, ask what the client wants then proceed. Instead it seems he did the fastest thing to get paid faster. Simple, He made a bad judgement decision, therefor he is responsible for his bad decision. Not the client.

    If he gets mad, tell him, "you have no one to be mad except yourself. I'm paying you to install a new kitchen with new undamaged parts. Please fix it correctly, so we can move forward."

    If he still refuses then just withhold payments until he delivers it correctly.

    Usually close to end, a walk through & a punch list is created of items that need some adjustment. Once the punch list is complete, a final walk through inspection. Then final payment for a job well done.

    You want a nice new kitchen.

    He wants $.

    Each gets what they want when the other gets what they want.

    Hopefully, you have not paid him fully & the balls still in your court.

    kitchen2018 thanked artistsharonva
  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You always pay trip charges for extra trips beyond the original install. If the damage had been seen, and the product reordered in time for the damaged piece to be there by the time install happened, there would be no trip charge.

    If he’d brought it to your attention, and then you have to wait on the install of that replacement piece, and the associated crown, and other parts, to happen, you’d still have to pay the extra trip charge for that.

    He is owed him a trip charge no matter what.

    But now he has to uninstall stuff as well as install stuff. So he may lose more hours.

    But your GC should pay it, since your GC didn’t inspect delivery. Which your GC absolutely should have. If he needs to hire a POD for material storage on the job, and to make that happen, that’s tough. It’s just part of the job. So really, the trip charge is on your GC, because he didn’t inspect the delivery, as he should have, nor did he find the damage in time to make the install happen without an extra trip from the installer.

    If you hired the installer directly, then you are the acting GC on the job and you have a big muddled mess of chain of command and who is responsible for what. The whole reason you hire a GC is to have one neck to choke.

    kitchen2018 thanked User
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    My KD company NEVER made a "trip charge" - and believe me, they made innumerable trips! Only my plumber does this!

    kitchen2018 thanked Anglophilia
  • 6 years ago

    Thanks to all for your advice.

    Sophie, I didn't hire the cabinet installer, I hired only the GC whose job includes everything (old cabinet removal, new cabinet installation, plumbing, electrical, painting, tiling, etc.), except kitchen design, cabinet manufacturing and delivery, and countertop installation.

  • PRO
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    If the GC ordered the cabinets and hired the cabinet installer, then the GC is the one who does whatever is needed to make the product and the installation perfect. It’s the GC’s issue. The cabinet installer shouldn’t even be interacting with you. Everything should go through the GC.

    Where it gets tricky is if the cabinet design and delivery was not under under his control. Someone has to be in charge of that portion too! It can’t slip through the cracks.

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Same here. The installers & contractors I use NEVER made a "trip charge" when I hire them for my kitchen jobs. That's included.

    kitchen2018 thanked artistsharonva
  • 6 years ago

    Trip charges are more for services that day, or before being hired, & sometimes estimates. Not after or during a hired job, unless stated beforehand due to unique circumstances example far travel. They usually don't charge going to & fro during a job. That's absurd.

    kitchen2018 thanked artistsharonva
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    Some comments on trip charges. They exist in all of the trades, not just cabinet installers. Electricians, plumbers, HVAC techs, carpenters, and every Pro I know has a trip charge, even if they don’t come right out and call it that.

    Trip charges are for when an installer has budgeted an install to take 2 days, and due to the actions of others, it takes 3 days. Or more. It affects the wait time of paying customers downstream of the job. He is losing money if he has to show up again at a job without additional compensation. And he is pushing someone else’s job off until later to do that.

    Real life examples:

    For instance, he gets paid a trip charge when the plumber cut off the pipes too short, and he has to wait a half day for him to show up and lengthen the pipes to fit through the cabinets and be reached once the sink was installed. That trip charge was a chargeback to the plumber.

    Or, he gets a trip charge when the kitchen designer orders gray crown molding instead of white, and no one opened the package at delivery to check for damage and color. I paid for that trip charge, as well as the right color crown. And got chewed out for not opening the package at check in. That’s what happens at dealers.

    Or he gets a trip charge if during the install, the customer decides that she wants a tile backsplash after all, instead of the 4” counter splash she had planned. He has to make an unbudgeted extra trip later to install the light rail molding after the tile goes up. That was charged to the homeowner.

    Now, if the trade just under budgeted his time, and the job takes 3 days and he had budgeted 2? That is his problem to solve and to eat. And to apologize to the downstream customers.

    A tight schedule can’t have extra labor fit into it without a cost being paid by someone. Sometimes the dealer eats it if they could have prevented the delay that forces the additional trip. Sometimes the GC eats it if the issue is unclear as to who should pay. It’s the GC’s job to make sure that the trades keep to the schedule, and if it takes eating that trip charge, that’s what he does. So, the customer may not even be aware that a trip charge is happening unless the delay is their issue to own and pay for.


    kitchen2018 thanked User
  • 6 years ago

    "Where it gets tricky is if the cabinet design and delivery was not under under his (GC) control. Someone has to be in charge of that portion too! "

    Yes, the KD who placed the order for the cabinets for the cabinet company are "in charge" and would replace the damaged item. But the GC has already installed the damaged item and is reluctant to uninstall it.

  • PRO
    6 years ago

    Technically because you didn't order the cabinets through your contractor, he's not responsible to check the cabinets when they arrive but the person you ordered the cabinets from are. But as some have said in previous comments, if he saw a damage before installing it, he should let you know right away so you don't end up in this predicament.

    In my opinion he should have checked every cabinet, panel and filler before he installs but apparently he did not do it. Kitchen renovations aren't cheap especially because of the cost of cabinets. I think you should get into an agreement with your contractor to replace the piece and hopefully he will not charge you a big amount to do so. They are brand new cabinets, you don't want to have a fixed cabinet this early.

    kitchen2018 thanked Klein Kitchen and Bath
  • 6 years ago

    Looks like the KD dropped the ball. I'd hit her with multiple "trip charges" so any payment left to her is negated.

    kitchen2018 thanked ksc36
  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    No...This is not the KD or cabinet companies fault.

    Poster said, she said " BEFORE the installation, I told our CONTRACTOR (who is doing the fulll kitchen renovation) that the cabinet company WOULD replace any damaged cabinet."

    Who knows how it got damaged. But knowing it's damaged & still installing it. Well, that is the installers fault. The GC installed it, and he should be quality control on site.

    kitchen2018 thanked artistsharonva
  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ksc36, the KD was not supposed to open all the boxes in my house and inspect each cabinet. I've paid in full to KD and the cabinet cost. They are willing to make extra trips "for free" to deliver me a new panel. Everyone understands that a damage may happen during manufacturing or delivery (or installation). The KD and cabinet manufacture agreed to the replacement for free, without asking any questions.

    Do you think the KD & manufacturer should also pay for my GC extra work of pulling out the damaged panel and installing a new one?

    I agree with Klein Kitchen and Bath and hope my GC will not charge a big amount for the uninstalling the damaged panel and installing the replacement.

    Thanks everyone for responding!

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    It's much better to have a 3 week delay on the front end waiting for damaged pieces to be replaced before demo starts than it is to have that delay in the middle of a project when it impacts the finish line. No demo at all should be done until all products are on site and verified to be correct and undamaged. Waiting 3 weeks with a kitchen vs 3 weeks without? You just don't ever start a project without inspecting everything on the front end.

    Industry standard in construction is that whomever places the order and pays for it, is who receives the order, and validates it's correctness and wholeness in a timely manner. Or, that person may designate an authorized agent to do that for them. But it must be done. If you don't inspect the material when it's delivered, that puts the issue, and any associated delays, onto you or your authorized agent.

    You as the purchaser own that responsibility, unless that job was called out specifically in the contract as part of the GC's jobs as your authorized agent. From your statements, the GC obviously didn't purchase the cabinets, or accept and sign for the delivery.

    Yes, the installer should tear out the damaged piece and return to install a new one. And that extra charge and delay should be compensated for, as all of the products on site were not in a fit condition to be installed. If that damage had been properly discovered at delivery, no extra trip or delay would have been needed.

    This has zero responsibility to be laid on the cabinet company, unless they are also handling the installation. Their responsibility is to order replacement parts when presented with the proper documentation of the damage or the missing piece. If you hired a KD, as a KD, separate from the cabinet design, part of her services can include tandem check in with the contractor at delivery time. But this is no different than you personally ordering tile, or wood floors, or a front door. If it's delivered to the home, it's the purchaser's responsibility to inspect it and notify the seller of any issues. Your tile seller isn't coming to your house to go through 84 cases of tile!

    kitchen2018 thanked User
  • 6 years ago

    Who did you give the cabinet money to? They own the cabinets and any damage that the cabinets arrived with. If the KD bought the cabinets but was too lazy to inspect them, too bad.

    If you look closely, you might find small blemishes on many cabinets. It is the purchasers call as to what can be touched up and what needs to be replaced.

    This actually happened to me a few years ago. The designer botched the design, cabinets were removed and new cabinets were ordered and installed. The designer/supplier paid my bill, about $800.

    kitchen2018 thanked ksc36
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    Coincidentally, we recently had a refrigerator end panel arrive damaged. My installer noticed it prior to install and contacted me immediately to order a new panel. The new panel arrived within five days...a minor delay. Nobody should be waiting three weeks for a replacement part.

    As the kitchen dealer, it is not realistic for me to unpackage and inspect every cabinet in addition to every panel and every piece of trim (and it's certainly not due to "laziness"...lol). It is not wise to unpackage cabinets and trim that are protected until it is time for install, especially at a busy and crowded work site. I am at every delivery and I make sure that every item on my list is delivered. I also note any obvious damage that I can see at that time. But it is commonly understood with all of my contractors that they should look at all items with a critical eye prior to installation and contact me immediately if there is an issue.

    As far as who pays? My cabinet companies cover the cost of replacement parts. Personally, I won't work with any contractor who will charge extra to come out to reinstall a damaged piece if it's sent within a reasonable time period. Any experienced contractor should understand that items arrive damaged often and the cost of that "inconvenience" should be included in their labor bid at the start.

    kitchen2018 thanked Kristin Petro Interiors, Inc.
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    I cut a granite slide-in range opening to the GE specifications provided by the homeowner. GE lied in their specs and I got a callback to recut that should have been a trip charge but wasn't. I ate it. Life ain't fair.


    I was called to do another granite opening enlargement this week. The installers won't deliver the appliances until the opening is cut, I won't cut the opening without the appliances on site. I told the homeowners the above story and they agreed to a trip charge if the spec-cut opening happened to be wrong.


    When I told the lady how far out her selected range was going to stick, she flipped, told me to hold up, and agreed to pay a trip charge while they went shopping again.

    kitchen2018 thanked Joseph Corlett, LLC