Question: How long have you been building wine cellars and how many climate controlled cellars have you built?
Answer: Generally, the more experience a builder has the better, however, keep in mind that sometimes companies get used to doing things a certain way (using certain materials, providers, etc.), especially if they’ve been around a long time. So if you are hoping to create a wine cellar that is unique or cutting edge, dealing with a company with too much experience can also be a negative. Mentioning the “climate controlled” element is sometimes a good way to ward off wine cellar imposters who may be reluctant to take on the responsibilities associated with properly preparing a room for use with a particular cooling system.
Question: Do you have a website?
Answer: In this day and age, most reputable companies should have a fully functioning website where you can read about the company’s philosophy, work ethic, services, testimonials and view pictures of their completed projects. If a company’s website fails to impress you, and you don’t get a good vibe from speaking with the company’s associates, I would certainly go no further. Companies who don’t invest much time or money into their image and customer service probably won’t invest much effort into your wine cellar either.
Question: Do you have an office or showroom that I can visit?
Answer: Although there are certainly some reputable wine cellar companies who do not have a formal office or showroom, it is always comforting to deal with people in a professional setting where you can meet to conduct business. Whenever possible, take the time to visit your builder at his/her office or showroom. Doing so will allow you to see how their associates present themselves and their business, and will undoubtedly leave you with an impression (positive or negative), to help you make your decision about whether or not they are the right company for you.
Question: Does your business only build wine cellars?
Answer: This question is key when selecting a wine cellar company because it will help you quickly determine what kind of business you are really dealing with. If a company’s primary focus is anything other than wine cellars, then you run the risk of spending a lot of money on something that the company doesn’t specialize in. This lack of specialization can result in misunderstandings, omissions, irregular timelines, quality control issues, oversights, errors, or shoddy workmanship. If your product is not their priority, then you might not be either.
Question: Would you be willing to give me a list of previous wine cellar customers that I can speak to as references (4 or 5 minimum)?
Answer: Companies with integrity who take pride in their business practices have no problem giving out the names and numbers of past clients who are willing to attest to the quality of their work. Take a few minutes to make the calls, ask some tough questions and go with your gut. If the company and references are legitimate, you’ll feel much better about your decision and be glad you did.
Question: Do you charge a design fee? What does it include?
Answer: Most reputable wine cellar companies charge some kind of design fee in order to open your file. The reasoning behind this is sound when you take into consideration all of the time and effort required to prepare a truly custom wine cellar design. The designer needs to visit the space, assess the property, get to know the client, compile information about the client (collecting history, habits, intentions, preferences, style, etc.), measure the space, formulate sketches, meet with the client again, make revisions, meet with the client again, source materials, create drawings or renderings, make adjustments, etc… all before an accurate quote can even be provided. If the company you are dealing with does not require a design fee, they are likely incorporating hidden costs into other areas of your room or cellar construction in order to compensate for time and effort expended during the design phase of the project.
Question: Are your wine cellars fully custom or do you use kit and/or modular racking systems?
Answer: Some companies who claim to build “custom” wine cellars actually use kit or modular racking systems in their designs. Not that there is anything wrong with using kit or modular racking in a wine cellar design, however, this should not really be considered a “custom” wine cellar, and should not carry the same price tag as a truly custom design that has been specifically created and/or manufactured for your project and space. When comparing quotes or designs between two or more companies, it is important to keep this significant distinction in mind.
Question: How long does it take to build a wine cellar?
Answer: The timelines involved with building a wine cellar can vary dramatically from a few days to a few months depending on the following:
- size and scope of the project
- complexity of design
- customer decisiveness
- stage of construction
- choice if materials
- availability of materials
- availability of specialized trades
- unexpected surprises or delays
Question: Do you provide any kind of written warranty or guarantee for after-market service?
Answer: Any company that claims to provide quality craftsmanship and excellent customer service should have no problem backing up their completed work with some kind of after-market warranty or guarantee. Make sure that you get your warranty/guarantee in writing and always take the time to read the fine print on any contract.
Question: Do you offer any wine management services using qualified wine experts and/or sommeliers to help me organize, catalogue, purchase or sell my wines?
Answer: Building a wine cellar is one thing, stocking and organizing it is a whole other matter. Working with a company who is able to help you do both will simplify the entire process and help ensure that your wine room/cellar will be properly stocked and organized in a way that works best for you.