I wrote about helping a friend with an IKEA kitchen remodel recently. Unfortunately, it has not gone well. We are very disappointed with the cabinet installation. A problem that could’ve been addressed and resolved on site was ignored. The resulting mistake has not been acknowledged and fixed. Instead of taking responsibility and apologizing, the contractor in charge is still arguing, causing a major delay, not to mention a headache.
A kitchen, in its planning stage, seems quite straightforward. Do the floor, install cabinets, then countertops, then appliances. A logical sequence. One step after another. Slam-dunk!
However, that’s just in theory. It hardly ever goes as smoothly as planned, especially when the craftsmen performing the job are not as good as they claim. Case in point, are the IKEA cabinet installers we have encountered.
IKEA kitchen cabinet installation protocol is as follows:
Step 1: The installer finds the high point of your kitchen floor using a laser level. The installer marks the wall at 34 1/2″ off of the floor, from the high point on the floor. Then, a level line is made from this point around the kitchen, on all walls, using a laser level. The hanging rail is installed to this level line.
Step 2: The cabinets are installed on this hanging rail.
That makes sense. But there’s an exception to every rule. I think that the only right way to do it is to take individual conditions into consideration. In our case, it’s the floor that is extremely out of level.
Thus, the cabinets are installed with the toe kicks dangling. That’s ok. We can fix that. Next step is to measure for countertops. It turns out that the kitchen cabinets are installed one-and-a half inches (1.5”) higher than they are supposed to be! How did that happen?
The installation crew did inform my friend of a possible gap in the toe kick.
However, the toe kick “complication” was introduced in the context of something that can be easily resolved with a custom toe kick at $28.00 per linear foot. It was treated as a cosmetic hitch, an opportunity to sell something else to a gullible customer.
Yes, my friend was notified of superficial imperfections that might ensue. However, she was NOT ALERTED to the functional issues associated with that. Unfortunately, the problem was much more serious. It was unethical not to bring it up.
Jason Eldredge of Eldredge Woodworks, a Referral Partner with Traemand (a company whose mission is “to connect IKEA and its customers with local craftspeople of the highest caliber”) has been defending his installation crew ever since. Instead of accepting responsibility for their mistake, he writes: “We can not just come back and lower your cabinets because you have decided it will make installing your range easier.”
That’s terrible! I understand that it’s necessary to follow protocol. But when the floor is out of level to such an extent, it is the installers’ job not to move ahead with the installation before explaining the repercussions… I believe it’s simply unprofessional. In construction, following a certain rule blindly is never a good idea.
Here’s what an experienced professional would’ve done:
- pointed out to the customer how out of level the kitchen floor is;
- told the customer what that means for her appliances;
- asked the customer whether she wants to proceed with the cabinet installation or level the floor first.
Personally, I think the best course of action would’ve been to mitigate the floor height fluctuation and to start at the range, a place where the cabinets are supposed to be aligned with the appliance.
They went ahead without thinking. Not the end of the world; the oversight could’ve been easily remedied. They could’ve come back and re-hung. Instead of a bad, it could’ve been a great experience.
Apparently, providing good customer service is not a priority for Jason Eldredge, who offers: “Sign away your rights to your warranties and relieving all parties involved of future liability.” He has the audacity to suggest: “If you sign a waiver to this affect, we will come and install your cabinets at a height of your choosing. This will not be done for free, however. Furthermore – I don’t recommend it – as a licensed contractor.”
Doesn’t it sound like he is taking advantage of the situation? It’s very unfortunate. It certainly reflects badly on him. But he is also representing IKEA! I hope Traemand takes note. According to Jason, Eldredge Woodworks “installs approximately 30 IKEA kitchens every week.”
There’s no way Jason will be hired to correct the problem — we just don’t trust him. But this one bad experience is not going to damage my relationship with the world’s largest furniture retailer. I’ve loved IKEA for a long-long time and a kitchen cabinet installation gone wrong is not enough to shatter my deep affection for it.