First water all the lawyers

I’m currently mired in the paperwork stage. My next door neighbors are lawyers who kindly agreed to review the contracts for cocktails, so after three rounds of sidecars, I had a short list of action items to take up with my contractor, who is now updating his contract and also negotiating some changes with the cabinetry subcontractor. The latter is the only particularly interesting point.

Cabinets are by far the biggest line item in the whole project’s budget, and among the least dispensable–I have relatively little space to work with, and custom cabinets are the key both to maximizing the usability of the kitchen and to making a shoe-horned design look like soemthing. The plan is Euro-style frameless construction with flush doors (vertical grain) and drawer fronts (horizontal grain), with four-panel-and-glass upper cabinets on one end of the kitchen. Key features are some bookshelves and a shallow pantry taking the place of the current main entry, with round shelves to make the transition from the wall. The round-shelf transitional motif is repeated on either side of the cabinets over the sink and over the bar.

So about that contract… Cabinet Guy says he’ll make my custom cabinets in about four weeks. Cabinet Guy’s contract says that he’ll begin work in 2 weeks and complete work 5 weeks later. He wants 30% on signing, 30% after one week, 30% after the second week, and the remainder upon completion. Yes, that’s right–he has 90% of his money before he says he’ll even have the work underway, and he has 100% of the money when they go to the refinisher, who makes delivery god knows when. I don’t think so!

My lawyer friend suggests two remedies: changing the payment milestones so that they’re tied to performance, or paying the installments by credit card (mine, not my contractor’s), so that the purchase is protected by my credit card’s residential/consumer purchase protection rules (or whatever they’re called). The catch is that Cabinet Guy wants a 3% upcharge for payments by credit card. Once again, I don’t think so! I’m asking for one of two changes: payments tied to performance, or remove the 3% upcharge and I pay for the cabinets directly on my credit card rather than writing checks to my contractor.