11 Signs a Custom Cabinet Shop is Qualified

Is the custom cabinet shop you are considering using even qualified to do the project?

You’re finally ready to pull the trigger on a large cabinetry or millwork renovation investment and everything has to be perfect. It all has to match your design vision exactly and there’s little margin for error.  

You’ve decided you want high-end, top quality work and you’ve found someone or a company to produce the work but you’re just not sure about them. 

What do you do in this scenario? In all reality, there’s A LOT of risk in not making the right selection. You can’t afford to take the risk on an amateur cabinet shop. Your project is an expensive investment and you only want to pay for it once, not twice!

So, let’s get into it.

Here are 11 Signs a Custom Cabinet Shop is Qualified:

1. They’re Registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs.
2. They’ve Got A “Home Improvement Contractor’s” License.

This is especially important if they’re doing work in yours or a client’s home. Ours is #13VH08697000.

3. They’re Fully Insured.

Full insurance coverage typically includes Worker’s Compensation and General Liability.

4. They Actually Have a Fabrication Shop.

This might seem pretty obvious, but there are a lot of people or groups out there that make claims they can produce high-end or custom work but as a matter of fact, they don’t own a shop, the tools or the machinery to do it. Before you even begin the design process, make it a crucial point to request and schedule a shop tour. Get a feel for them and see first hand that they’ve made the necessary investments into the machinery and tools to produce cabinets and millwork. If they consistently blow you off, you may dealing with an amateur or a shop that’s under equipped.

5. The Shop and Their Overall Appearance is Very Organized.

Cabinet shops can be and are often very hazardous environments. With extension cords, dust, sharp blades and machines all over the place during production, there’s a lot of room for accidents and injuries.

Therefore, it’s very important that you take good notice of how well they control their environment because it will be a reflection of how they treat yours when they come into your home to perform the delivery & installation.

There is a proven connection between disorganization and creativity so it’s completely normal to see work in progress such as built cabinets and completed millwork products lying around the space along with sawdust on the floor and tools out on tables. It’s a sign they are actively working. However, your keen perception here is needed. If their space is just an absolute pig sty, you may want to steer clear of them.

6. They Don’t Hesitate to Prove Their Expertise.

Most cabinetmakers or cabinet shops that are worth their weight in sawdust have been at the game for many, many years.

They should have no problem proving both their abilities and their capabilities in the form of sharing their experience as well as providing you with a portfolio containing clear, modern photographs. If they produce a specific line of product, they will likely have a showroom.

Note: Not all custom shops have showrooms. This does not mean they aren’t legitimate. It means they may not have a reason to based on the market they provide for.

7. They Produce Quality Shop Drawings.

Quality shop drawings are an industry standard and any real cabinet shop claiming to be one will provide and produce quality drawings. Ask to see samples they’ve done to be sure.

8. They Have Testimonials from Happy Clients.

Testimonials and reviews are the hallmark of trust when it comes to products or services in our modern, digital age. Make sure whoever you’re considering hiring for the job at least has a handful of testimonials to share alongside everything else mentioned previously.

9. They Know the “How & Why” Behind Their Materials & Finishes.

It’s true that opinions will vary shop to shop, or person to person however if you’re considering having cabinetry or woodwork built by a custom cabinet shop, it would behoove you to do a little bit of research on typical cabinet materials yourself and then ask whoever you’re interested in working with various questions to see if they’re “in the know”.

Click Here for more information on Melamine
Click Here for more information on Plywood

10. They Don’t Require a Ridiculous Amount of Money Upfront.

It’s pretty standard for cabinet companies or individual woodworkers to request deposits and progress payments. The standard amount ranges anywhere from 25 – 50% on award for any residential project.

If you have a cabinet shop you’ve never worked with before requesting 60 to 75% as a down payment right off the bat, you may want to consider looking elsewhere.

It’s possible that some cabinet shops may request larger deposits during economic downturns or work restrictions (such as the COVID-19 pandemic, for example) but you should only consider paying that kind of percentage during a time like that if they as a company or individual have been properly prequalifed. 

11. They Are Good Communicators.

Last but not least, in this line of work, great administration and the handling of communication equals great business relations.

Therefore, if they aren’t responsive with returning phone calls or emails, it’s possible they’re very busy.

However, if you’ve called and emailed a number of times with no response, it’s worth considering another possibility that it may be a symptom of the fact that they’re unmotivated and don’t make new clients or new business a priority.

If you get this sort of treatment from them very early on and they finally get back to you with an estimate or a proposal/contract, if they treated you like an afterthought early on, they’re apt to treat you like that for the rest of the project.

In Summary

Surely there are other qualifying points I or anyone could make, but I think you’ll agree that any custom cabinet shop that has most or all 11 of these factors hammered in makes them very qualified to do your project.

Here at Creative Concepts of NJ, we have a long, rich family tradition in woodworking & custom cabinetry. It amounts to over 80+ years and counting. I felt it would be really beneficial to share these 11 signs with you that will hopefully assist you to find and qualify a custom cabinet shop for your project.

Your Next Steps:

Click HERE for quick access to our portfolio. We want to share our expertise with you in the form of high-quality images of past projects.

Click HERE to read some of our testimonials! 

Want to see a sample shop drawing and rendering? Click HERE (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

We’re also good communicators and want to give you an estimate for your custom cabinetry or woodwork project! Call (732) 833-1776 or email me directly at: mike@creativeconceptsnj.com

Further Reading:

10 Ways Custom Cabinet Shops Help Their Clients with Unique Cabinet & Woodworking Projects

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Custom Cabinet Shops


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