I'm not sure who designed these, but you do have to remove the entire dash. Also, you do need to remove the heater core/evaporator core box which requires draining the engine coolant and evacuating the A/C system. It can be a bit of a job, but like you, I would rather do it this way and not cut things.
It sounds like you are comfortable with the removal of the dash, so I will start with the removal of the heater core and the evaporator core. If, however, you need info on the dash, let me know.
If you look below, I attached the directions for removing the cores. After the first set of directions, I included the removal and replacement of the actuator.
Let me know if this helps or if you have other questions.
See pics below.
Images (Click to enlarge)
Saturday, November 13th, 2021 AT 10:46 PM