One thing that makes Limitless Construction different is that it literally has its own in-house cabinetry shop. Joe Bernau, aka Top Notch Woodworking, creates custom cabinets in a big shop he built at Limitless’ new Maple Grove home this year.
Cabinetry arguably is the most critical element in many remodeling projects because it sets the tone for quality, fit and finish. Plus the timing of cabinetry installation typically dictates the rest of the remodeling schedule. This Top Notch connection gives Limitless a natural advantage.
“Joe and I have been friends since we were kids. We were best man in each other’s weddings. I know I can count on Joe for the highest quality cabinetry and millwork and for on time delivery. This connection is a great benefit to our clients,” Limitless President Matt Wagoner explained.
Read how Joe Bernau talks about his woodworking craft and you will understand why:
You design and build custom cabinets for Limitless Construction. What are clients choosing for styles, materials and finishes?
As a cabinetmaker, I watch where emerging trends are headed. But I also make sure that our projects reflect the homeowners’ style and complement the whole house.
For kitchens, painted cabinets have been popular for a number of years. Kitchens with two-toned finishes are becoming more popular. The base cabinets may be a different color than the uppers, or there may be several wood accents. White and gray are top color choices. We also are seeing bold colors and blues. For wood, rift-sawn white oak and walnut accents are popular. Brass continues to be a preferred finish for hardware, but there is a movement toward mixed finishes on lighting, appliances, and hardware. We are pairing lot of large, single-bowl sinks and farmhouse sinks with our cabinets.
Top-of-the-line Blum soft-close slides and hinges and dovetailed maple drawer boxes are standard on our cabinets. We spec hardware that makes the most of the cabinetry space. Our kitchens feature a lot of base cabinet with drawers and pull-outs for easy access. We work with each client to provide the right storage for their needs. This includes spice pull-outs, utensil storage, tray dividers, double waste and recycling pull-outs, and adjustable-height pantry pull-outs.
Engineered quartz countertops such as Cambria are the most popular choice for countertops because of their durability, stain resistance and broad color and pattern options. But rising prices could lead to a resurgence in natural stone such as granite.
Do you do your own finishing?
We work with several preferred painters who have a history of meeting our high standards for finish work. Outside of small projects with just several pieces, we do our finishing on-site. This allows us to achieve the seamless, built-in look we are known for.
What are your preferred finishes?
We customize our finishes to each customer’s needs. We have seen huge advances in the quality and durability of water-based paint finishes. For stained finishes, we color-match or create custom blends to produce the desired look.
What is your design process?
On our initial appointment, we focus on gathering information and a providing a rough cost estimate. We collect specifications of appliances, determine cabinet styles and finishes and discuss rough layout.
Once we determine we are a fit for the client’s budget, we will develop detailed plans. We often give our clients the layout and have them map out what they will store in each cabinet. This allows us to customize the space to their specific needs and optimize the storage.
We offer both hand-drawn and computer renderings for our finished designs so the client can visualize the initial design and provide feedback. We follow with a firm price after plans are completed and approved.
We always verify the dimensions and locations of plumbing, electrical and HVAC rough-ins before building anything to make sure that there are no surprises when cabinetry and millwork are installed.
What’s a typical lead time for your custom cabinetry?
We usually schedule cabinetry delivery 2-3 months from final design approval. However, we start planning for projects long before they are ready to build.
Why are the custom cabinets you build better than those big cabinet companies build with computer-driven milling equipment?
Unlike cabinets from most stock and semi-custom cabinet stores, our custom cabinets are built to last a lifetime. We use the highest quality materials and do not cut corners on construction to save money. We use solid ¾-in. cabinet box materials, where the industry standards are 3/8 to 5/8-in. Also, we build our cabinets to fit the space rather than waste space with filler strips.
The expensive production machinery that some cabinet companies use is geared to make their process fast and repeatable and something that semi-skilled or unskilled labor can do with little training. We have been working to hone our cabinetmaking skills for more than 20 years and are always looking for ways to improve our final product, not just to save a few dollars here and there.
I am amazed at the corners some of our competitors cut. I have seen cabinets in multi-million-dollar home that look good from a distance, but upon closer inspection it is clear that quality of the hardware and drawers is inferior. Sometimes, key parts of the cabinets are simply missing. I don’t understand how some shops think it is ok to omit finished backs on their cabinets. You shouldn’t see the drywall when you look inside a cabinet.
How much more should someone be prepared to pay for handmade, custom cabinets vs. stock cabinets?
There are many quality levels of stock cabinets, but I would say you should be prepared to pay double or more for hand-made custom cabinets. The entry level of stock cabinets would be what I would call “throwaway” cabinets. These are ones that would not be expected to last more than 10-20 years and certainly would not be salvaged during any future remodels. In contrast, we almost always find a second life for high quality, custom cabinets.
What have you been building this year?
We took two months off this year to build our new shop and to move our business. However, we have been busy with several kitchens, basement finishes, bathrooms, and whole house cabinetry projects. We have a productive winter ahead with three large whole house cabinetry and woodworking projects, along with several kitchens and bathrooms.