The best kitchen designers are straightforward and upfront with their clients.

For many years, a silent conspiracy existed between architects, contractors, countertop fabricators, fixture suppliers, and kitchen and bath showrooms where customers worked with designers. Every expert wants to be compensated for managing every facet of a client’s job. At a recent gathering of industry leaders, I saw that many contractors continued to feel no remorse about refusing to install any items they did not order and profit from. One general contractor claimed that because the granite countertop for the homeowner had yet to be acquired via him, he had purposefully chosen not to be there when it was templated and installed. That contractor included, this is a recipe for disaster for everyone involved.

The public is kept in the dark about what they are paying for by hiding the actual cost of everyone’s services in the price of supplies or bribes.

An excellent illustration of how this system can be counterintuitive is the fact that, up until a few years ago, all granite businesses had to artificially inflate the price of granite to their walk-in clients to avoid having referral customers from kitchen showrooms discover that they were being charged a 20% markup by the showroom that sent them.

Many home builders upcharge the value of upgraded cabinetry and countertops by three to four times while claiming that the additional price was due to increased material costs.

Everyone involved must get paid fairly for a construction project to go effectively. However, with this system of burying labor expenses in material costs and hidden kickbacks, there is an incentive to sell attractive items that can be produced inexpensively and therefore don’t endure.

Sadly, high-quality cabinetry, fittings, and other building materials are frequently only 5 to 10% more expensive than their subpar counterparts.

If architects, contractors, countertop fabricators, fixture suppliers, and kitchen and bath showrooms were more transparent, homeowners could make more educated decisions about the specialists they hired. Additionally, buyers would probably choose superior materials more frequently if they had to pay the total cost.

Fortunately, the ease of pricing items online is undermining the entire system. Naturally, when customers place possible online orders and don’t comprehend the pricing, other issues occur. However, the previous approach is problematic simply because it makes it easier to price products better.

Virginia Kitchen and Bath makes every effort—almost successfully—to be transparent. A referral fee from an architect or builder may once in a while be requested; however, we deduct it as a business expense from our earnings. Customers continue to receive the same exclusive rate as before. We also recommend granite showrooms, lighting, flooring, and appliance specialists to our clients, but unlike other conventional showrooms, we request that these professionals sell to our clients directly and at no expense to us.

Our business model allows us to do so, but soon all experts will have little option, and we hope that this outmoded system will be a thing of the past, with professionals and customers alike benefiting from the pleasant transparency.

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