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One of the biggest projects by far is the kitchen. Often a focal point of the house, a good kitchen design and build can add thousands to the value of a house. With that in mind my latest and biggest project needed some serious consideration.
Why Homebase =============
We moved into our house in January last year with the sole aim of improving and updating the property and moving on to the next project, hopefully making a profit along the way. The kitchen that was in the house when we bought it was O.K. but was about 15 years old and badly designed, being a large room it should have been ideal, however the use of that space was poor and storage and workspace limited.
Having done two previous house refurbishments I had a good idea of what we needed and the budget I was willing to spend, so the task of choosing the price range and specification was fairly simple. The hard part is choosing the right company to go with.
There is a huge choice available for self assembly and fully fitted kitchens and the first reference points were the usual suspects; MFI, Wicks along with the direct suppliers. Most of the kitchen ranges on offer are made by the same manufactures so it is a case of price, after sales and availability.
MFI was the first stop, and it was one I had some trepidation about having suffered at the hands of their incompetence before. But they do have a good range and seem to have improved quality and after sales, so in the wet and gloomy January sales we set off in the hope of securing a realistically priced quality kitchen. It seemed the January gloom had infected our local MFI as well, we waited for someone to show a little interest after looking around for 20 minutes, then queuing at the customer service desk a young man wanted to take our details and then get back to us about booking a home measure and quote. "Can you not give me a booking date now?" "No" He said "We are booking into February now. If your serious I might be able to get a cancellation" "So what if I do the measurements myself and plan it here?" "Well you can, but we will still have to come out to do them again" With this we turned tail vowing never to darken their doors again. Driving home mumbling about the state of customer service and retailing attitudes it dawned on me that we may have the solution a mile away from where we live.
Homebase for me had always been the DIY place just up the road for all the decorating and household needs. I had had a quick look around the gallery upstairs where they display kitchens and bathrooms but never gave them a second thought as a serious kitchen supplier.
So it was with some surprise that the style of kitchen we had looked at in MFI was on display in Homebase. (MFI call it Riminni Maple, Homebase call it Napoli Maple)
Homebase have upped their game in recent years, having had many owners, who it must be said never really gave it the attention it needed. But now free of large corporate politics the management have concentrated on its image. Most stores have been given a going over and now present a clean and welcoming look. The kitchen displays are not on the same scale as MFI, but there are 8 different styles on show with a good range of accessories and appliances too.
At my local branch I was greeted by a very polite and engaging man, who although had "Trainee" on his name badge, was eager to speak to us and asked all the right "open questions". He made an appointment for us the next day with the Planer and suggested that we do accurate measurements and gave us all the brochures and planning grid paper.
So at 10 am next morning I met Frank, a studious man who with the aid of his CAD design software took the measurements and started playing around with combinations of units until after about an hour we had a plan. His helpful advice and the friendly service, coupled with the fact that we could get the whole kitchen for under 2k due to the sale plus it was a 10% day too. So the kitchen was ordered.
Now Homebase do account card, normally I will run a mile from these, but this one gives you the opportunity to put your purchase over £1000 on the pay nothing for 12 months scheme. Provided you pay the full amount off within the 12 months you pay no interest. So why not keep the money in the bank and earn interest on it for a year. This card also gives you loyalty points as does the normal Homebase card, so there will be some useful vouchers to come later as well.
Once the order has been processed you are contacted by the Homebase kitchen team, who give you availability and a delivery date. I was surprised to get a date within 2 weeks. I had organised my Man to do the Gas and Electric in February, but this was no problem the helpdesk gave me a date a week before we were due to start stripping the old kitchen so we could check the order in while stripping the kitchen and sort any issues out before assembly.
The Delivery and Fitting ==================
Homebase do not offer a fitting service, however they do have contacts who will quote and survey for you but this is not covered by any guarantee from Homebase. This was not a problem for me as apart from some carpentry and Gas and Electrical work it was self build by me. But you may need to find a good local fitter who will quote at least 50% of the value of the units for labour, anything over 75% of the value, he is ripping you off.
And so the delivery day came. The weather could not have been worse. We had been contacted by post and telephone. It is worth remembering that your new units will take up a fair amount of space and the letter sent to us has a picture of how the kitchen looks on a pallet. I like this someone has put some thought into customer service here, you can imagine how many times the delivery drivers have turned up to an address to find no effort has been made to make space for their delivery. We were also called by the driver on the morning of delivery, who gave us a 2 hour delivery window, and sure enough the chaps arrived within the first half hour of the quoted time.
Distribution is handled by a division of Wincanton Group and they are very efficient and friendly. Once delivered they check the whole order with you and you sign for delivery only (any damage can be reported in 30 days for replacement). They were very careful and even with torrential downpour going on they were cheerful and polite.
So to the fitting. Each draw and unit pack is clearly marked on the boxes, door packs are marked by size. They are well packed and only one door was slightly damaged and replaced within 48 hours.
The units fit together well with all the necessary fittings in each box. The instructions with each unit can look a bit daunting, there are few written instruction and the construction diagram is like a picture story board, but to be honest anyone who has done a few flat packs will grasp the correct assembly of the units.
The pre-drilled parts are well finished and fit together without the need to re-drill holes, and the only adjustments that needed to be made were for the in accuracies of the walls rather than the units.
The Finished Article ================
Flat pack kitchens have improved their image. No longer the nightmare of missing parts and splitting fibreboard. The units we choose were the cheaper units in there range and I was pleased with the look achieved with these units. They are sturdy enough if the house goes out to let and stylish enough to sell the house easily. It is possible to get a reasonable kitchen for under 2k. Finish with some good tiling and quality appliances who's to say that kitchen did not cost 10k. See pictures for yourself.
The other two reviews gave Homebase a less than glowing report. I would however recommend their kitchens and their service as a real alternative the MFI or Wickes. Their customer service (in my store at least) deserves particular mention. In an area of retail that has had a terrible reputation Homebase have strived to improve the level of service and quality. Recommended.
Well done on achieving a lovely new kitchen! as one who has just had a new kitchen installed, in the end by an independant company, because we were not impressed with MFI or Wickes customer services either! Liked the pics and enjoyed the review. Well done.
tc x Sal x
sifair 09.05.2007 22:41
memphisto_chick 08.05.2007 13:34
Great reveiew, I am also now looking for a new kitchen, can you come and fit mine per chance?! I hadn't considered Homebase for a kitchen and I have also had the same problem with MFI here, they can't come out until late June....by the time I want my kitchen finished!