Another Cabinet Pricing Survey

Cabinetmakers from around the U.S. quote ballpark prices for a generic cabinet project, and discuss costs and markets. April 9, 2008

I know everyone hates these pricing surveys, but it is always interesting to get more information from other parts of the country. Here are the details...

15 lf of cabinetry, 9' total height
Lower portion 6'h x 22"d, upper 3'h x 18"d
Maple construction, custom stain color
Shaker style door with 3" rail and stile

Picture should be pretty explanatory, but I can provide more details if needed. I will provide my price. Upper Midwest, $5857 installed.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor O:
$5775 unfinished but installed in East Texas. The finish would run another $1500.00.

From contributor Q:
About $6k finished, dye, stain, and clear coat but without glass and hardware. About 1k to deliver and install within 60 miles. Midwest location.

From contributor L:
About $10K finished and installed. No pulls or knobs. Connecticut.

From contributor Y:
Roughly $8200 finished and installed north of Denver, CO.

From contributor D:
$2995, no money down, no credit, bad credit, no problem.

From contributor U:
10,200 installed. Extra for glass.

Also, any reason the top row of cabinets is set back? This will make them very hard to access. 22" is very deep for a bookcase. Additionally, you will need to finish the top of the bookcase doing it this way.

From contributor I:
11500 in the upper Midwest installed.

From contributor G:
8800.00 finished and installed. No glass, hardware (knobs, handles). Louisiana.

From contributor V:
$9-10K installed, 7 step pre-cat finish. Arizona.

From contributor F:
I know you didn't ask, but I have to agree that the bookcase being full depth and the top pushed back seems a little odd to me also.

But I digress... In the Northeast, I'm in the 8-10k ballpark.

From contributor A:
As usual I concur with contributor L. We both work in CT and our pricing always seems to be pretty much in line. $10k.

From contributor B:
Am I the only one here that thinks this is being priced way too low? I would bid at $800 - $1000 per LF and I'm in the Northeast. Are you guys serious? Is everyone paying workman's comp, liability insurance, employee wages, and taxes? Are you kidding? Stain grade work for those prices isn't worth it.

From contributor Z:
I think I'll move to your town. I get about $400 a linear foot plus 20% for delivery and installation. Add to that the finish and my price would be $9,500. I'm in California but not near a large city. I am, however, a one man shop and have a license and insurance but no employee expenses.

From contributor I:
Prices are also going to vary depending on the construction method, installation techniques, etc. If you are going to be using face frame construction, inset doors, exposed hinges, etc., you should be charging more than frameless with a standard overlay. Also, in the installation, will you be using extended stiles and scribing to fit between walls and scribing to fit the floor or just building close and using fillers for the gaps. There can be a huge difference in time for installation depending on how particular you or your client is.

From contributor J:
I guess I would like to be in any of your markets. In the heartland (Kan., Mo., Ok.). If I priced that at anything over $4,500, I would be laughed out of town in most instances. Anyway, that's what I would bid and someone would undercut me by 2k! Feel lucky! Oh yeah, that's finished, installed and ready to use.

From contributor T:
I would say around $12 grand. East coast metropolitan area. We are busy, so we ask for higher prices, but still, I would think that $6000 wouldn't make much profit.

From contributor S:
Atlanta, Ga, priced two ways...

If ordered from manufacturer with 1/2" end panels, face frame cabs, all plywood box with finished interiors, no glass. Price $10.6K
COGS $8.1K (cost of cabs from manufacturer, install, delivery, taxes, workcomp, hardware)
$2.5K gross profit to company.

We build in our shop: 3/4 plywood all around, face frame cabs (1 guy assigned to job - 2 weeks)
Price $14.6K
COGS: $8.5
Gross Profit: $6.1

This is pretty rough, but close.

From contributor A:
Now we just need the owner to move his house to CT. The questioner and contributor J will build it and ship it to contributor L. He'll deliver it. I'll install it, say hello to the customer, and take his money.

From contributor R:
$7845.00 installed and delivered with no finish, glass, pulls, or knobs. About $1300 extra for the finish. Los Angeles, California.

From contributor W:
Dallas, Texas. $8800.00 build and installed. $1400.00 for stain and finish.

From contributor K:
About $10,000 for the raw cabinetry. About $2,500 for the finish. About $2,000 for installation. $14,500.00. Washington State.

From contributor E:
$8,400.00 finished and installed. No pulls or glass. Washington State.

From contributor L:
What is with the no glass in the quotes? I can understand it was spec'd out as stained or leaded glass, but as I read it, it was plain old clear glass. Is it normal practice for your company to not provide glass in the glass doors? I can understand knobs and pulls - the styles are limitless and the prices can be from 89 to $300 each. Just curious.

From contributor M:
Cost of product: doors ordered $700, plywood $800, hardware $200, finish material $300.

How can you bid $14,000 for a job that may take a skilled cabinetmaker a week to do? I am from Missouri and my pricing would be $4500 - $5000 and as contributor J stated, I may still be underbid.

From contributor L:
I have a friend in Missouri and we compare prices all the time. He constantly comes in at half my price. Your area is just cheaper to buy stock in and the prices for labor are much cheaper. The prices on the East and West coasts are substantially higher than in the center of the country. Percentage wise I bet we compare evenly on profits.

$800 in materials would buy 10 sheets of unfinished maple A1 plywood. Then you still need to buy the solid stock, hinges, glass, finish, etc. Materials are 50% more expensive on the coast, labor and cost of living are about the same too. It is all relative.

From contributor O:
Speaking of plywood prices, a few years ago, I could pay $22/sheet for 3/4" Baltic birch (13 ply). Today, I give $35/sheet for crappy nine ply china birch that is full of voids and will delaminate. Recent purchase of a unit revealed only one sheet was useful for cabinetmaking. On the other hand, 3/4" okoma ply is running $26/sheet and lumbercore oak veneer is running $30/sheet. Anything else is well over $80/sheet. What's happening in your neck of the woods?

From contributor M:
Yes, it is cheaper prices. I do not pay $80/sheet for plywood. I can buy my oak for $.50 a linear foot (2" wide and 3/4 thick). I live near the largest producer of oak and maple in the United States and my provider buys it in the bulk. The amount of money spent on the face frame would not be very much. I would say if you double the cost of materials, one would still be making over $200/man hour to make the cabinet at $14,000. If you have a CNC router, and order your doors, what is going to take so long to make this set of cabinets? It appears to be very easy. Installation would be the hardest part if one is dealing with a very picky person... not the building of the cabinets. Is it common to charge $200/man hour? If so, I guess I need to move and build in your area. I am satisfied at making 1/4 of that.

From contributor L:
"I would say if you double the cost of materials, one would still be making over $200/man hour to make the cabinet at $14,000."

First of all, what is wrong with that? If the client is willing to pay and your geography dictates it, why fight it?

Second, rent, insurance, workmen's comp, heat, cooling, taxes, truck payments, phones, computers, internet access, office supplies, building materials, hardware, research into making custom items, absorbing customers who pay slow, garbage removal, electricity, paying employees, funding benefits, etc.

I have had people say that I make too much money because they are in the mindset that I get what they write on the check. If that was true I would be so rich right now I wouldn't need to work. But I have to pay all that crap and my bank account is nowhere near what I would consider rich. It is so much more expensive to live on the east (and west) coasts. Our fuel is always 20-30 more, and our electricity is the highest in the nation besides Hawaii. Those two items alone trickle down into everything that we buy and I must transfer the costs to the clients.

From contributor F:
Got to agree with contributor L. That's one of the biggest problems with these surveys, they don't always account for where you're located, although this particular one has been good in that regard.

In my area, if you want to buy a starter house 1 hour or more away from the city you're looking at 300k. An average sized house within 1 hour of the city will start at 500k. Property taxes on that house will cost you, at a minimum, 6-7k a year. Then you have insurance, heat, electricity, etc. My wife and I rent in a decent neighborhood, and we couldn't touch a single family in our town for less than 500k. And many houses in our town and surrounding towns exceed 1 mil. - not mansions mind you, but just decent sized houses. Basically houses here are incredibly expensive compared to many other parts of the country.

Then you have to add in all the other cost of living expenses, which many are higher here than in other parts of the country. What it all comes down to is you couldn't afford to do a job like this here for less than 5k; you would lose money. But you may be able to do it and make a good profit somewhere else. This is why pricing surveys are inherently flawed to begin with. Unless you're only going to compare with local shops, you're going to get a lot of potentially misleading information.

At the end of the day you have to price the job out the way that will make you money. At the end of the year if you are still in business and made a profit, then you're pricing correctly. That's the only way to really know if your pricing is right.

As for plywood prices, I don't know what you can buy for $30 a sheet, but I'm not surprised most of it is garbage. I pay roughly $68 a sheet for pre-finished maple, a little less if I buy a full lift, or if it's raw. It's made in Canada and is stamped on the edge so I know where it's from and what it is. At $30 your stuff must be coming from China and the quality of that plywood has been addressed here many times. I've seen it in the Borg's and it usually has no identifying stamps to indicate where it's from, what grade it is, etc. In short, you get what you pay for.

From contributor C:
$6335.00. No pulls, knobs, lights or pull outs. Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor T:
The real reason these surveys are disliked or not trusted is there is no way to compare the "quality" of the work. It really has nothing to do with where you are located. My price would be $18,000-$21,000 for this work. My clients would pay it because they have seen the difference between craftsmanship and the cookie-cutter factory stuff that has permeated the trade. Learn to be a craftsman not a reseller, and the client will know the difference.

Comment from contributor J:
I like the survey, but I also think that it should have been in a charge per LF than per job. The LF would be more of a judgment as the house, neighborhood and city and state. Like it is, one set of cabinets may be in a three million dollar house or a house that is worth 300K or a rent house.