Pricing a Small Built-In

      Another instructive pricing case example ó this time, a small built-in with walls on three sides. May 28, 2010

Iím doing a built-in for a client (don't do this type of work much) and just wanted some input on pricing both from professional builders/installers. I donít want to undercut the fellow woodworker, I want to charge a fair price. Below are some renderings I did in Sketchup. Construction will be of paint grade plywood (A1 Birch) with poplar face-frames. I have estimated the materials to be $900 (using quality slides and hinges).

What do you think you would charge in labor to build and install in ready to be painted form? Upper cabinet in two parts with eight adjustable shelves. Base cab in two parts with four slide out boxes and three adjustable shelves. Doors are made of poplar and MDF with euro hinges. Size is roughly 6'x 10'. Labor also includes installing under cabinet lights but no painting. The countertop will be installed by stone company. Right now I'm thinking $1600 labor.

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Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor S:
First I would ask what is your estimated time to build, then time to load unit, tools etc, delivery unload unit, tools etc, install, clean up, load tools drive back? Where are you building this Ė shop, garage, overhead? The only way to evaluate is to place all the parameters into the equation.

From contributor M:
Your labor seems about right to me, but, at $900, your material estimate seems quite high. For instance, my door company would only charge about $120 for those four doors in poplar/MDF.

From contributor J:
Charge whatever you need to charge to build it, but installation is never included, and always hourly. Especially if you don't often do field installs between three walls. You could get killed on that. Don't ask how I know this. Your materials seem high to me as well. Also, for paint grade poplar is a little soft for me, I prefer soft maple, or hard. I get them about the same price right now.

From contributor B:
I would be right around your price. I would say twenty four, twenty five hundred. I am going to start charging a little more this year, but unpainted I feel like that is fair. I like to overestimate my materials, so then when it takes me longer that I thought I end up hopefully making the same amount hourly that I planned on. "Why don't you just overestimate your labor?" Well I feel bad when it looks like I am making 4/5 of the cost in profit.

From contributor Q:
$2500 total installed sounds fair to me with no finishing. Am I the only one who thinks this looks like a super easy job? $500 should cover the materials and the $2000 should be plenty for two days shop time and one day install. I think if it takes you longer than that you need to get efficient or get out of woodwork.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the input. I ended up bidding $2500 for labor and $700 for materials (my actual cost, after reading some other posts here I would now mark that up at least 25%). The customer didnít even blink.

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