The saleswoman also pointed out that the bank of 4 18" drawer units might be nice and symmetrical, but not so good for storage: the drawers inside are only 15" or so wide. We revised the design to 18"-36"-18", and she is checking for me on the load limit on the bigger drawers so I can figure out if the cast iron and the Calphalon pans can all go in one drawer. I forgot to ask about their ironing-board-in-a-drawer for the laundry room--will have to call about this next week.
After we left the cabinet place, high bidder (Betsy) and I met and she gave me a revised bid. With the Wellborn cabinets, lower prices on painting, tile-setting, job supervision, and the living-room bookcases, she's no longer the high bidder. Yesterday I put the revised numbers from both contractors in my comparison spreadsheet for better pondering thereof, and to talk it over with my brother and sister-in-law.
Pros for the now-high bidder: I think he'll take more care of things like making sure his subs keep the job clean, don't borrow tools or miscellany from my stuff, and will give a consistent supervision as he does that himself for his jobs. On the con side, I've had some minor problems communicating with him in the last stages of the bidding, and I suspect he'll be slower based on both the size of the operation, and on some comments from my architect (who recommended him). Pros for Betsy: she's a little lower priced now, and is working hard to get this job. I've liked her suggesting that I go to the cabinet place and to see some of her finished jobs (to be fair, the other guy suggested that I go look at the cabinets, too, but he saw that as something we'd do after I gave him the contract, I think). She's been good at communicating. Cons: she doesn't do lead supervision--that's up to two (maybe 3) lead carpenters, and one may hand off to another for different phases of the job. I suspect there will be less care taken to keep mess and confusion down, and she hasn't stressed things like making sure the subs respect my house and my stuff. Other thoughts: the bids are now quite close, so the money is not a big factor. And I think I'll get about the same workmanship from either one.
So, I'm using the "gut test". I'm saying I've decided to go with Betsy, now the lower bidder, because I think I'll get about the same level of finished product and hopefully somewhat faster than the other guy. Now I see how my gut feels about it for a day or two--if it's roiling around as if Dondo dy Jironal were encapsulated therein, I'll re-examine the decision. If all is quiet or just the level of "gee, you're about to sign a contract for a heck of a lot of money", I'll tell both bidders my decision. So far, my gut seems to be taking this pretty calmly.