Adding Custom Closet Organizers In Chicago

A while ago I posted on how I had started preparing my home for a sale 6 years in the future. Since then I've completed a few projects, the latest of which was to get custom closet organizers built for a few key closets in my home. In thinking about a future sale I decided that the lack of elegant closets was inconsistent with the price point that I was going to be reaching for in another 3 1/2 years. I wanted a wow factor when buyers first step into my house and again when they go into the master bedroom. All we had were your basic wire shelves, which was pretty disappointing.

I ruled out California Closets because everything I had heard indicated that I could go with a local company and get something just as good for less money. One of our clients had shopped around, got the best price from Closets By Design, and was very happy with their installation so I started with them. Their design consultant came out and spent quite a bit of time measuring, designing, discussing options with us, and estimating. The final cost for the foyer coat closet, my small walk-in closet, and my wife's reach-in closet was $9734.

For some reason we just expected it to be less than that so we decided to shop around a bit. Everyone raved about the Container Store and supposedly they have a year end sale with 20% off so I checked them out. However, it turns out that to get wood grain organizers we would have to go with the TCS brand and that does not have a year end sale. Furthermore, after some very rough estimation, it became apparent that they were not going to be any cheaper than Closets By Design.

Therefore, I turned to Yelp and called Perfection Custom Closets, which had a 5 star rating. We did enough work over the phone (yeah, it was a bit sleazy to send them a couple of the Closets By Design (CBD) sketches but this was just to get apples to apples pricing) for me to determine that there could be some real savings with them so I had them come out to make their own measurements and review design options. Since this was the second time through the process we were able to improve on the first design a bit and also decided to make some additional upgrades (e.g. wood grain in the coat closet, more drawers, move components around, etc...).

One of the differences between CBD's approach and Perfection Custom Closets' approach was that CBD only provided us with pencil sketches showing a top-down view of the closet and a straight on view of each wall. I really had to bend my mind to comprehend what this was going to look like. Perfection on the other hand actually produced renderings in addition to computer generated sketches which made it much easier to imagine the final product.

Despite the enhancements Perfection's pricing came out just a hair under $7000. That includes a savings of about $190 that we got by me spending a couple of hours removing the old wire shelves/ racks and patching the holes where needed. Since the master bedroom closets had backing there was almost no patching required there and, once I learned how to remove the anchors with little wall damage, the patching in the coat closet was minimal. We did not repaint the coat closet since few of the patches were even noticeable and the color was close enough for government work.

I went back to CBD regarding the price difference and their consultant tried to justify their higher price by a combination of some real but minor differences (e.g. removal of existing shelves included in price), some non-real differences, and some vague differences (e.g. industrial vs. consumer grade material). When I really pressed her on the details she withered away. Frankly, the entire discussion reminded me of the way traditional real estate agents try to justify their higher commissions: a lot of fluff with no real substance. So, naturally, we went with Perfection.

Now, I should point out that both companies knew that I was a realtor but at no time did I promise either of them that I was going to endorse them or write a blog post about them that would be read by millions.

Perfection's lead time was only about a week or two out, the actual installation took 2 days, and they were the ultimate professionals. There were some design issues and installation mistakes but they owned up to them (heck, the installer pointed out one significant design mistake) and offered to rectify the situation immediately - even if it meant ripping out part of the system and re-manufacturing it correctly. We did have them fix a couple of problems and negotiated financial compensation for a third problem that we decided to live with.

Based upon my experience with Perfection Custom Closets I can strongly recommend them and, again, I received no benefit from them for this endorsement. You can see before and after photos of the three closets in the slideshow at the bottom (below the email subscription form). For reference I estimate that the coat closet cost us $1477, the reach-in master closet cost us $1954, and the walk-in closet cost us $3564.

Advice For Anyone Getting Custom Closets Installed

Before having this done I assumed it would be a pretty trivial process. After all, how hard can it be putting a bunch of clothes racks and shelves in a closet? However, there is really much more to this and I can give you a bit of advice if you are considering getting some of your closets done:

  1. Obviously, you should shop around. Obviously.
  2. Don't rush it. Spend a ton of time in the design phase making sure that you understand exactly what you are going to get. I actually calculated the linear feet of clothes rack and cubic feet of drawer space to make sure I was getting an improvement over our original setup.
  3. Sit on the designs a bit and think about how you would use the system on a day to day basis. You may come up with different ideas. It was only after several weeks that I came up with a closet breakthrough that will forever change the meaning of life for us.
  4. Speaking of different ideas...if you call a couple of different closet companies you can get competing designs and then pick the best elements of both designs.
  5. The devil is in the corners because that's where two walls meet and your mind can accidentally give that corner space to both wall systems when in fact it's shared space. You really need to think about which wall "gets" the corner and how the other wall system might interfere with that.
  6. Make sure you understand the cost drivers: wood grain vs. white, toe kicks, backing, drawer pulls, different styles

As we went through the process I also started thinking about what it must take to run a closet organizer business and I must say that I now have much greater respect for Jay Pritchett. and his daughter, Claire.

#Closets #ClosetOrganizers #CustomClosets

Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he's the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.

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