Granite, composite and solid surfaces are all good investments as they are tough, durable and will give your kitchen a luxurious finish. Next, make sure your cabinets are of good quality. Don't be tempted to skimp on thin carcasses, as they'll not last very long. You want at least a 15mm thickness all round – if not more. Think about savings on your choice of doors. We can't all afford rich wood veneers, so why not recreate the same look with a laminate or PVC foil finish instead? Even hi-gloss doors come in different price brackets depending on whether they are lacquered or laminated. ‘While they all essentially look the same, a lacquered kitchen can cost considerably more than the laminate equivalent,' explains kitchen designer Paul Bagguley from In-Toto Batley. Spend wisely on appliances, too, buying the best oven and hob you can afford – but perhaps consider a less expensive brand for the laundry and do without the coffee machine and wine cooler. It's all about compromise if your budget is under strain, so make sure you spend on the things that matter – you can always add luxury small appliances and accessories in years to come.
Never pay a deposit of more than 25% of the total contract value and ensure you have a written schedule for further payments. Don't pay in full until you have received delivery of your goods. The KBSA (Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association) has these guidelines for choosing your kitchen company: Visit a company that has a showroom so you can inspect the quality of the product and the standard of installation. Choose a retail member with a track record of good installations and ask to speak to some previous customers. Be careful about paying in full for your kitchen in advance. You shouldn't pay a deposit of more than 25% and as it's likely that you'll be asked to make an interim payment, ask for a written payment schedule. Make sure you have a written quotation that covers every aspect of the job including fitting, flooring and any structural alterations you have discussed. Don't sign anything unless you are prepared to honour your side of the contract.
Some terms and conditions have expensive cancellation clauses. When using a KBSA retail member, don't forget to keep your insurance certificate in a safe place and if you haven't received it within a few weeks of paying your deposit, contact your retailer. Set your budget. Always be honest about your budget so that your designer can help you decide where to save and where to invest – even if you haven't got large sums to spend. Open shelving is less expensive than closed cupboards, for example, while capacious low-level, pull-out storage may mean you need fewer wall units, which saves on cost. It's easy to get giddy when faced with a wealth of shiny appliances with countless programs and functions, so only invest in things you think you'll genuinely use. And don't forget to include installation fees, as well as the kitchen itself. Finally, make sure your budget includes a 10 per cent contingency fund, to cover any unexpected extra costs. If you're is a bind about where to splash the cash, here are our top tips on where to spend and where to save: Always go for the best worktops you can afford, as they are one of the most hardworking elements of any kitchen.
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