A COMPLETE GUIDE TO WORKING WITH DEAN CABINETRY

John Dean  Leah Dean  Kevin Dean
By John, Leah & Kevin Dean

This is an honest guide to working with Dean Cabinetry.  You should understand exactly what to expect when working with us, your Cabinetry Partner.

At Dean Cabinetry, our mission is to be your kitchen cabinet partner from start to finish, through best value & service, creating results our clients love while guaranteeing health & well-being for our employees.

Who is Dean Cabinetry?

We’re a family-owned and operated company, providing beautiful and functional stock, custom, and semi-custom cabinets for more than 20 years.  We absolutely love what we do and we take great pride in our work.

We want you to love your cabinetry.  To make sure this happens we have developed a careful and thorough process to make sure we hit every detail.  We’d like to explain this process so that we’re on the same page and can help you as best as possible. 

Follow this link to learn more About Us.

What is the process?



Continue reading for a detailed picture of what you can expect when working with Dean Cabinetry.  If you’re unsure about whether working with Dean Cabinetry is a good option for you, read this article, Is Dean Cabinetry Right For Me?

1. Discovery
What is discovery?

At this stage you are considering your options and beginning to assemble your wants and needs.  We call this “Discovery” because we are working together to understand your project.

How can Dean Cabinetry help with my discovery?

As a consumer, you want to be informed and knowledgeable, even before you contact a company.  We are constantly creating content to answer any question you might have.  To learn all about cabinetry and the related remodeling services, check out our Learning Center.

How do I get started with Dean Cabinetry?

Our goal is to make this an easy and stress-free process for you.  If you simply want a quote for comparison purposes, or you need more detailed information, we’re happy to help. 

If you’d like to speak with someone right away, give us a call. Call Now.

We’re doing our best to accommodate your busy schedule by offering convenient phone calls. Schedule a Phone Call.

If you’re looking for a personalized design meeting in our showroom,  Schedule a Showroom Appointment.

When are we available?

We are available 10-5 Monday through Friday.  After hours and weekends are also available by appointment.

What can you expect when you book an appointment with us?


Once you’ve scheduled a meeting via our web portal, our Discovery Team will give you a call, to confirm the appointment.  They will also gather some initial info about what you’re looking to accomplish with your project.

The discovery team will then send you an email asking for:

  • photos of your existing space
  • dimensions of your space
  • inspiration photos

If you are able to provide this info, we will prepare preliminary budget options for stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinetry.

Once the discovery team has enough information to understand your project, you will be paired with the designer who best fits your project. The discovery team will email you and your designer, asking the designer to prepare budgets and meet with you (either remotely or in person at our showroom).

2. Budget
What is the budget stage?

In the budget stage we want to:

  1. Examine your project details.
  2. Develop budgets and help you choose the best value option for your project. 

To start, your designer will prepare and send multiple budget options along with some proposed meeting times.  These won’t be exact quotes but rather starting points.  You will certainly have questions and our designers will be happy to answer them when we meet.

What will we talk about during our budget meeting?

The goals of our budget meeting are:

  • Further understand the scope of your project
  • Discuss your budget direction
  • Understand your concerns when selecting a service provider
How long will our initial meeting take?

An initial meeting with a designer will take 1 to 2 hours.

What do I do after the initial meeting?

Determine your budget direction.  If we need to meet again to discuss the budget and understand your options, we are happy to do so.  We will not discuss design details in great depth until we determine a budget direction.

Why do we need to determine a budget direction?

You want to get the best value cabinetry for your budget.  Our goal is to deliver the best value cabinetry to you and your family.  We can hit any price point and any level of quality.  We aren’t going to pressure you one way or another, we simply want to deliver that best value.

If we start talking about the design before we determine a budget direction, we could lead you down a path that is not right for you.  When the budget is not determined upfront it becomes difficult to help you because we are on different pages.  It is important that we exceed your expectations, and therefore, we need to know your limitations.

I’ve picked my budget direction, what’s next?

Weigh your options, prices, service providers and pick a company to work with.

Why do my concerns about selecting a cabinetry provider matter?

There are lots of cabinet providers to choose from.  Most of them are quality companies that really care about you as their customer.  They want your project to come out right and they are willing to invest a lot to make sure of it.  Your reasons and concerns for choosing between them matter.  Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of each before you make a decision.  Our designers will be happy to discuss what to look for when selecting a provider.

Check out these links:

What if I don’t want to commit to a company?

We are very willing to invest our full attention, time, and effort into your project.  Going over design revisions again and again is what we do to ensure your project comes out right.  We love working with you to find the best value and design for your space.  We would love to help everyone with their projects but our time and resources are limited.  To ensure that our committed clients are taken care of, we are unable to invest in your project without a commitment to us as your cabinetry provider and partner.

How do we commit to Dean Cabinetry?

A handshake and verbal agreement with your designer, that you are moving forward with Dean Cabinetry, is all we need.  With your commitment we will be happy to give you copies of our design drawings as well as our full design attention.

Dean Cabinetry Family & Team Outing
3. Design

We believe that designing a kitchen is a partnership.  It is a relationship between a client, a designer, and other contractors.  This space will be the essence of your home.  People will gather here to cook, converse, laugh, and maybe even cry.  To truly grasp your project, our designers will work closely with you to make sure your space fits you and your family perfectly.

What is the design stage?

The Design stage is where we combine your ideas, inspiration, and budget to make your project come to life.  This is the most exciting and difficult part of your process with Dean Cabinetry because we need the most input from you.  Don’t worry our designers are happy to help.  They love this process and are willing to talk through each and every detail with you.

Our clients often say something like “I’m sorry for going back and forth and taking up all of your time with my project.”  Our designers will laugh and say, “It’s no trouble at all, this is what we love to do.”

Our designers will guide you and ask the questions that make you really think about the space.  Feedback and input are very important to make your space truly yours.  If you’re looking for a hands-off approach, we can certainly do that as well.

Do we have meetings during the design process?

Absolutely.  It is very important that we meet to go over the design details.  Your input combined with the designer’s expertise will make the ideas and inspiration turn into reality.

During our first budget meeting, it is common for clients to pick a budget direction and commit to Dean Cabinetry.  The meeting can then transition into a design meeting where we determine the large details of the project.

The next meeting is on the project site.  This will allow the designer to get an even better sense of your space.  They will take measurements to ensure our drawings are accurate.  We can also discuss the layout and the remaining open details of your project.

Before Photo | Taking Measurements During the Design Phase

Subsequent meetings could be at the project site or in our showroom depending on the decisions that need to be made.  Decisions of measurement, size, layout and overall aesthetic are best made on site.  Decisions of cabinet style, door style, color, and other details are best made in the showroom where samples can be viewed.

Additionally, many of these decisions can be made through email and with our learning center.  Our designers are flexible and willing to work with your needs.  Some clients want to figure things out for themselves while others would prefer to be guided through the entire process.

Learning Center

We want you to be an informed consumer.  If you have a question, please ask.  We want to answer your questions and help you make educated decisions.  If there’s a question or concern we haven’t answered in our learning center, please let us know. 

What client decisions need to be made?

As the client, your ideas and inspiration are most important.  We will use our expertise to explain best practices and trends, but the final decisions will be yours.  We will work together through the process to make all the decisions.

There are large details that the client should be involved in.  The small details can be decided by the client or left to the professional discretion of our designers.

What are the large cabinetry details?

These large details should be decided in order to determine the overall direction of the project:

  1. Budget.  This is the first and most important detail as it impacts all that follow.  Styles, details and the amount of cabinetry are all limited by the budget. Check out this article for help with all the budget details, Cabinetry Pricing and Costs.
  2. Timeline.  A sense of when you want to complete your project is the next important consideration.  Lead times often determine the direction of your project.  It will also determine Dean Cabinetry’s responsiveness.  We will be as responsive as you need us to be.  We try our best to answer your questions as soon as possible, but it makes a big difference if you need your cabinetry in two weeks or two years. Learn more about the timeline here, The Kitchen Project Timeline.
  3. Layout & Appliances.  These decisions go hand in hand.  In order to begin discussing the layout you should have a decent sense of your appliance choices.  The designer will need your appliance model numbers to make sure they will function properly within the layout.  With a good sense for your appliances you can discuss the layout including appliances locations, work stations, and storage.
  4. Cabinet style.  The next decision is cabinetry construction type or style.  There are many ways to construct your cabinets.  This decision will determine the design decisions that follow.  Check out this article to learn more about the different construction styles, Cabinet Terminology: Framed vs Frameless vs Overlay.
  5. Door style.  This is the next important choice.  The doors and drawer fronts are the most visible part of your cabinetry. Check out this blog on How to Choose a Door Style.

These are the large cabinetry design decisions that need to be made before the smaller details.

What are the small cabinetry details?

These are the smaller decisions that are made to capture your family’s unique style.  They should be made after the larger decisions.  This will prevent resetting your design progress and make sure your project stays on schedule.

Smaller decisions include:

  1. Cabinetry finishes.  A cabinetry’s finish is a smaller decision that can be changed up until the cabinetry is ordered.  You can choose between a painted finish or a stained finish.  Color choices may impact the pricing depending on complexity.  For stock and semi-custom cabinetry the finish options may be limited.  Custom cabinetry allows you to choose a finish or a perfect color match.
  2. Moldings.  The moldings and trim of your cabinetry can greatly influence the character and style of your space.  These include crown moldings, base moldings, light rails, and others.
  3. Inserts.  These are the pieces of hardware and organizers that fill your cabinetry.  These include pull out drawers, trash pull-outs, cutlery inserts, spice racks, and many other gadgets and organizers.
  4. Hardware.  The knobs and pulls of your cabinets are a final finish that really adds to the character.  They should be considered along with the color.  Check out this blog to learn more about Choosing your Hardware.

Remember it is important to consider the smaller decisions from the beginning.  However, do not let them drive the design process.  It is important to make large decisions before the smaller ones.  This will make the design process more straightforward.

Dean Cabinetry John Dean Custom Cabinetry White Full Access Full Overlay Kitchen Carpet
Dean Cabinetry Custom Kitchen Design
What are the service options?

Dean Cabinetry offers cabinetry, design, delivery, and installation services of cabinetry.  We can manage countertop templating and installation.  We are also able to remove and dispose of existing cabinetry and help with minor remodeling.

If you are in need of additional services, your designer will be able to answer some of your remodeling questions.  We are also happy to refer you to a service provider.  We keep an extensive list of vetted contractors by location and expertise.

How much does design cost?

At Dean Cabinetry the cost of your kitchen design is included in the cost of your cabinetry.

How will my designer impact my design decisions?

They will guide you to make informed decisions that fit your needs.  Make sure to let your designer know how much input you want.  Give them feedback when you are unhappy with their guidance so they can adjust to meet your preferences.

At Dean Cabinetry we are kitchen designers. We can help with interior design recommendations, but we are not specialists.  Interior designers have their own area of expertise.  Check out this article for an honest comparison, Kitchen Designer vs. Interior Designer.  We can recommend interior designers as well.

I’ve made all of my design decisions, what’s next?

Once you are confident in your selections, your cabinetry is ready to order.  Your designer will prepare a final set of plans along with a service contract.

You will initial each page of the plans, sign the service contract, and provide the necessary deposit.

This will progress your project into the ordering stage.

What is the payment schedule?

A deposit will be needed to order your project.

For stock and semi-custom cabinetry this will be 50% of the cabinetry cost.  The second 50% will be due on delivery.  Installation payment will be due on completion of the installation and punch list items.

For John Dean Custom Cabinetry, this will be 60% of the total cabinetry and installation cost.  The remaining 40% will be due on completion of installation and punch list items.

Jodi Working on a Client’s Project in the Dean Cabinetry Shop
4. Order
What is the order stage?

This is where your cabinetry gets made.  The first step is to detail your project plans.  We go through each cabinet, double-checking the measurements as well as making notes and specifications for the manufacturer.  Stock and semi-custom cabinetry is carefully ordered from our suppliers.  They manufacture and deliver the cabinets to our shop.  For our custom cabinetry, we specify the exact dimensions of each piece, order parts, and confirm color samples.

Why is detailing important?

Detailing your project is incredibly important to make sure that you get exactly what you ordered.  With hundreds of parts coming together, it is easy for design details to clash.  For example an appliance might not fit the cabinetry opening or a construction element may have been overlooked.  Detailing is the time where we go through every detail to make sure that what we order will meet your expectations.

What do I do during the ordering stage?

Our goal is to have every detail taken care of during the design stage.  However, there may be a few details to finalize.  The detailer will likely meet with you on-site to double-check measurements.  You may also need to answer a question or approve the final color samples.  Either way, ordering should be the easiest stage for you.  The majority of this time will be spent waiting for your new cabinetry to arrive.

There may be other parts of your project that need attention in order to prepare for the cabinetry.  We are able to help with light remodeling work, but it is not our specialty.  For larger remodeling projects, we are happy to recommend you to one of our preferred contractors.  We work with many of them and keep an updated list of the best ones by geographic location.  Ask your designer if you’d like a recommendation.

What service providers will I need?

The scope of your project will determine the services you need.  This is an extensive list of services to show you all the possibilities.  Don’t worry, you will likely not need all of these services.

ServiceDo I need it?
Architectural ServicesIf you are looking for a custom, complex, or specific design you might want to consult an architect.  Structural changes will need an architect or engineer’s approval. Do I Need an Architect?
Interior DesignIf you want the entire theme of your space to feel professional.
Cabinet DesignYes, included with your cabinetry purchase from Dean Cabinetry.
General ContractingIf you want someone to manage your project.
FramingIf you will be moving/adding walls.
PlumbingIf you will be moving/adding sinks, dishwashers, or other plumbed appliances.
ElectricalIf you will be moving/adding appliances, lights, or outlets.
FlooringIf you will be changing the floor.
OtherThere may be other remodeling work such as sheetrock, painting, etc. Many of these can be done by general contractors.
Cabinetry InstallationYes, offered by Dean Cabinetry.
Countertop InstallationYes, this can be managed by Dean Cabinetry
Appliance InstallationYes, if you are getting new appliances.
Fixture InstallationYes, this will be done by an electrician or general contractor.

We are happy to recommend service providers to you.

More information about preparing your space will follow in the Installation section.

How long will I have to wait for my cabinetry?

Lead times for cabinetry can vary.  Your lead time will begin when you place a deposit.  Stock cabinetry can be delivered the fastest, sometimes in as short as 2 weeks and as long as 6 weeks.  Semi-custom cabinetry can be 4 to 8 weeks.  Custom cabinetry is usually 6 to 10 weeks.

When your cabinetry is ready for installation your project will move to the install stage.

Cabinetry Installation in Progress
5. Install
What is the install stage?

This is when your cabinetry is installed.

Installing cabinetry is a difficult process.  The way cabinets are installed is just as important as how they are built.  The installation process creates the final product of your space.  This is where you will live, work, and create memories.  Knowing what to expect and what to watch out for will make the process much smoother.

Please don’t take this lightly.  Cabinetry is a final finish product that is very difficult to make perfect.  We began preparing for the installation when we were detailing your project.  We do our very best to make sure we meet your expectations.

Check out this blog, How to Install Cabinets.

When your cabinetry is ordered, we will put a tentative installation date on the calendar depending on the lead time for your project.  As this installation date approaches there are a number of things to prepare for.

What should I do to prepare for installation?

There are a lot of variables to line up before your install to make sure that everything goes smoothly.  When properly planned, the design choices, colors, and material selections will all come together in a quick and efficient manner.  This is not easy but certainly doable with proper preparation.

As the homeowner it is your responsibility to have the following done before the installation day.  The following is the ideal job site for a cabinetry installer.  We are flexible and can work around certain items but the ideal preparation will allow a timely installation and keep your project on schedule.

The following should be done before the installation:

  • Existing cabinetry should be completely removed and disposed of.
  • The installation space should be empty to receive the cabinets.  It is best to deliver the cabinets as close to their final location as possible.
  • Cabinet knobs, pulls, and any client provided hardware should be on-site and ready for installation.
  • Appliances, including the sink, should be delivered to the site but out of the cabinet installation area.
  • The floor should be complete or ready for the final coat.
  • Drywall work including taping should be complete.
  • The first coat of paint should be done.
  • Rough electrical and plumbing should be complete.
  • Other contractors should not be working in the area during cabinet installation.
Who installs the cabinetry?

Over the years, we’ve found that everyone can install cabinets.  However, there is a big difference between installing a cabinet and installing cabinets every day.  Our installers do this every day.  They know the tips and tricks, the ins and outs, and have the experience to make sure your cabinetry installation goes smoothly.  Our installers are carefully selected subcontractors we use again and again.

For this reason, we prefer to install your cabinetry, especially our custom cabinetry.  We are committed to you as our client and are committed to making sure it comes out right for you.  When we install, we take care of all punch list items and see it through to the end.

If you’d like, you are welcome to install the cabinetry yourself or have your contractor install it.  If you’d like to go in this direction, you will be responsible for the final measurements and materials list.  We will do whatever we can to help but since we will not be onsite,  we will not be able to predict possible issues.  In addition Dean Cabinetry will not be able to provide the same attention to detail with punch list items.

In terms of punch list items, all of our manufacturers stand behind their products and so do we.  We are eager to help resolve any defects from the manufacturer.  This will require a simple picture of the defect sent to Dean Cabinetry.  If we did not install the cabinets, installation of punch list items will be the responsibility of the homeowner or contractor.  We will take care of any punch list items that we are reasonably responsible for.

We do not wish to make it difficult for you to install your own cabinets.  Rather we must dedicate our attention to the installations that we are responsible for.  If you are unsure, read the blog, How to Install Cabinets, and speak with your designer.

What is a punch list?

A punch list is a list of items that need to be fixed to complete your kitchen installation.  For example, if something gets damaged during delivery, it would need to be repaired and it would become a punch list item.  Another example is if a cabinet is the incorrect size and needed to be fixed, it would be added to the punch list.

You will be very lucky to have zero punch list items.  With hundreds of pieces, mistakes happen. 

Punch list items can be the most frustrating part of your project.  Dean Cabinetry prefers to install because we will take responsibility for your punch list items and make sure they are completed in a timely manner.  It is no fun to have an almost finished kitchen.

Dean Cabinetry Kitchen with Stock Cabinetry & Farm Sink
Who installs the appliances?

Appliance installation is also difficult.  Your appliances should be delivered before your cabinetry is installed.  Your appliance provider will provide you with installation options.

If an appliance is integrated with your cabinetry, we can install them into the cabinetry.  For example if you are purchasing a farm sink for your kitchen, you should have it delivered to Dean Cabinetry.  We will cut the cabinet to fit the sink and deliver it with your cabinetry.  Unfortunately, we are not licensed to connect the plumbing.  Another example would be a hood ventilation insert.  The insert would be delivered to our shop and installed in your hood.  We would then deliver it to your home and it would be connected by your appliance installer.

Dean Cabinetry does not install or move appliances in your home.

What will Dean Cabinetry do before install?

When Dean Cabinetry has an accurate estimate of when your cabinets will be ready, we will reach out to let you know.  You will have at least 3-4 weeks notice.  We will confirm the installation 2 weeks in advance and again 3 days in advance.

What about demolition?

If you’d like Dean Cabinetry to remove and dispose of your existing cabinetry and countertop material we can certainly help.  We will remove the existing materials and dispose of them.  Next we will install the new cabinetry.  If preparation work needs to be completed in between removal and install, it is the responsibility of the client or contractor.

What will the installation be like?

The day before your installation or the morning of, we will provide delivery by skilled and careful delivery personnel. One, two, or three delivery personnel will bring everything into the installation space. We will deliver the cabinetry directly into the installation space or as close as possible.  For stock and semi-custom cabinetry, final cabinet payment is due on delivery.  We will unbox the cabinetry, and dispose of all packaging.

We expect your initial cabinetry install to be completed within 3 days of the start date but may take more or less time.  Once installation is complete, the installer will review the cabinetry with you, and take note of any items that need to be replaced or adjusted.  We will fix or order the punch list items and return for 1 punch list visit to complete all punch list items that were communicated to Dean Cabinetry. The client is responsible for communicating to Dean Cabinetry, any additional items that need to be added to the punch list, prior to the punch list visit.

If Dean Cabinetry is unable to complete the installation during the install or on the punch list visit due to unforeseen conditions created by the Homeowner and/or Contractor, we reserve the right to charge for additional visits.

Items brought to Dean Cabinetry’s attention after the punch list visit, will be considered touch up items, and will not be an immediate priority for Dean Cabinetry. Dean Cabinetry reserves the right to charge for any additional visit, including and not limited to, hardware installation (if not onsite during installation). Dean Cabinetry also reserves the right to charge for touch up items (including and not limited to, damage caused by other contractors on-site).

What does Dean Cabinetry take responsibility for?

When we install your cabinets we take full responsibility for all details, dimensions, touch-ups and adjustments, now and into the future.  Our referrals come from keeping your kitchen looking great.

We take responsibility for what is reasonably expected and we do our best to help guide you through the rest.  The following is a list of what we are not responsible for:

  • Providing knobs and pulls.
  • Integrated appliance panel attachment.
  • Template and installation of countertops, although we often help manage the process.
  • Plumbing and/or electrical disconnect and reconnect.
  • Asbestos or lead identification and/or removal/disposal.
  • Backsplash removal, spackling, sheetrock work, painting and touch ups (other than for cabinets).
When is my cabinetry installation over?

Your cabinetry installation will officially be over once all the open punch list items have been resolved and closed.  The next step is for the other final finishes to be completed.  There will often be settling to your cabinetry and adjustments that need to be made once you move in.  We’ve written this guide to help adjust and maintain your cabinetry for years to come, Cabinetry Maintenance Guide.  

Please keep in mind that we at Dean Cabinetry are more than happy to come out to do maintenance, adjustments, touch-ups or refinishing for you.  It is in our best interest to keep your kitchen looking great for years to come, so please do not hesitate to give us a call for adjustments.

Leah vising a client for a Follow Up!
6. Follow Up
What is the follow-up stage?

Your relationship with Dean Cabinetry is nearly complete.  Your cabinetry project is installed and you are starting to finally enjoy it!

You set out to find the best value in cabinetry.  You chose Dean Cabinetry as your provider.  We helped make your project become a reality and we truly hope you love the results.  This is so important to us that we want to follow up with you to learn about your experience with us.

What happens during this stage?

A member of our discovery team will reach out to you to congratulate you on your project completion.  We will ask if we can come for a visit.  If you are willing, we will set a date and meet at your newly completed project location.

It will be our pleasure to bring an appreciation gift as well as ask about your experience with us.

Our questions include:

  1. What is the reason you chose Dean Cabinetry?
  2. Did we meet your expectations on a scale from 1 to 5?
  3. How would you rate your interaction with our employees on a scale from 1 to 5?
  4. What would have made your experience with us better?
  5. Is there anything else you would like us to know about your experience?
  6. What were your contractor, appliance, and countertop selections?
  7. Will you recommend Dean Cabinetry to your friends and family?
  8. Would you be willing to write us an online review?
  9. Can we take photos of your space?
  10. Can we take a photo or video with you?

We may also bring another member of our team to see the completed project.  This is greatly appreciated by our team members who don’t get to see the end results every day.

Your photos will be added to our website along with your review.

Is Dean Cabinetry grateful for me?

We cherish our clients who are willing to give our team, product, and process compliments as well as constructive criticism. This helps us to improve, grow, and continue our mission.  

Our mission is to be your kitchen cabinet partners from start to finish, through best value & service, creating results our clients love while guaranteeing health & well-being for our employees.

We hope you love your cabinetry, and that you enjoyed working with us as much as we enjoyed collaborating with you. Also, we hope that you will happily spread the word about our mission.  We look forward to catching up in the near future.  Feel free to call, email, or stop in to let us know how you are enjoying your Dean Cabinetry.  We would love to hear from you!  Cheers!