Pricing a Small Kitchen

A question about how to price an example of kitchen cabinetry leads to thoughts about pricing methods and design rendering. February 26, 2007

I was wondering if anyone could give me an idea for a price of the kitchen I am working on. I realize this is dependent on region, etc but I am just trying to get an idea. The kitchen is red oak stained mocha brown, flat panel shaker doors and 40 inch uppers with 2 1/4" crown on top.

If you could give a price for the cabinets and how much this would maybe be to install I would greatly appreciate it. I know I undercharged and I don’t want to make that mistake again.

Here is a 2D picture. I am trying to learn sketch-up, but it’s coming slowly.

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Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From the original questioner:
I forgot to mention that they are 2" face frame cabs.

From contributor S:
What did you charge and how did you arrive at that price?

From the original questioner:
I have never done a project this large for myself even, let alone for hire. I charged 11k and I came up with that price by adding up my projected materials (I did miscalculate some because of inexperience), and then used a multiplier of I think 3.5.

I think that it’s on the lower end of price because I used unfinished plywood, and built my own doors, drawer heads and drawer boxes. Both of which would have increased the material bill and decreased labor (therefore leading to a larger total bill and saving time). I will be outsourcing the doors next go around.

The customers are friends of mine and they gave me a chance to do this. The cabinets look great and we will be delivering shortly. I'm sure the price is low, but it is not really a loss to the small shop portion of the industry, because if it wasn't me building them, it would have been Kraftmaid or comparable. The last thing I want to do to get a job is cut anyone’s throat (especially my own).

From contributor A:
I know some people will cringe at this but you could go to HD or Lowes and get an estimate for a kitchen from them, same woods, same or similar finish, same upgrades, etc. and see what it would have cost to go through them, installed. If you charged less than Big Box, you know you undercharged. It's at least a starting point.

From contributor F:
First off understand that you will make this mistake (undercharging) again. We all do - it's part of the learning curve of starting your own business. Even more so if you do a variety of custom cabinetry, as opposed to specializing in kitchens.

I couldn't get a good look at your layout on my screen, but it seems like a smaller kitchen. For myself, I can say in general it would be difficult to do even a small kitchen for less than 15k installed.

If you take Contributor A's advice you will get a much better feel for your competition. Although it won't help you much in pricing your work, it can't hurt. Case in point, I'm just finishing up a kitchen now which cost just over 20k. My clients told me, after I gave them my bid, that the local lumberyard quoted them at about 2k less than what I quoted. That's a pretty small difference for the size of the job.

Which leaves me wondering, did I charge enough? I got the job built in the timeframe I planned on, used less materials than I budgeted for, will make a good amount of profit, and have already secured other work from the job. That makes it a pretty successful job right? But I can't help but feel that my prices shouldn't be that close to semi-custom cabinetry. So although knowing what the other guys charge doesn't help me figure out my costs, it may help by encouraging me to increase my prices/profits.

For your situation some more work may be needed. You say you multiply materials cost by 3.5 to get overall costs, but how did you come up with this formula? Have you figured out your overhead? Electricity, phone, rent, mortgage, machinery, vehicle, gas, etc. - then added in your hourly labor rate?

When I do a quote it is cost of materials + 30%, then add in a weekly rate which includes overhead and labor, then add a percentage for profit. There are still places where I can fall short, (like estimating time to build), but when I have accounted for all my expenses and have a cushion I should not lose money. And if you have all of this worked out for the next job, neither should you.

From the original questioner:
I know I will likely undercharge again, I just meant hopefully not to this degree! I took too long to get this job done, but that's part of it too. I know how to save lots of time next go around. I know the materials*X method of pricing is not a good way to go about it, but I really didn't have a good idea on how to go about it for this large of a job. But there again, I know better next time.

Really what I am trying to get out of asking about the pricing on this kitchen is what it would normally cost (whatever normal is), so I can tell them, "If someone asks you how much the kitchen was, you tell Xk, not 11k." Therefore someone won't be calling me up looking for quality cabinets for cheap.

From contributor F:
I had to do the same thing on my first kitchen. The best bet is to figure out how much you need to add to what you charged in order to make a decent product and give them that price. Of course who they give the actual price to vs. what they paid is a whole other thing.

The reason us giving you pricing won't help is because the biggest difference in costs is regional. Of course there are many other factors we don't know including the quality of your work/finish, what kinds of hardware, drawer construction and etc. But even with all that detailed information you have a huge geographical variation to deal with. I would guess you could get quotes from 10k - 40k.

I'll give you the same advice I gave last week to a similar question. Get a copy of last months Cabinetmaker magazine. They have cabinet shops across the country to contribute quotes for specific jobs. I think you will be surprised at how much variation there really is in this business.

From the original questioner:
Maybe I did 4x materials I don't really remember (I guess that's not good either). I'm not getting fat off of this one, but I will make some money. Also I have gathered a wealth of knowledge, both from this site, and the hard way.

I wish I would have found this site about two weeks before I got started. And perhaps my bid was not too far off, I am just too slow for this go around. But it’s all part of the learning curve. For instance, I had never made a corner cab that is 45 degrees to the rest of the cabs so that took some extra time.

From contributor K:
I would suggest that look into eCabinet Systems Software. It is free to legitimate cabinet makers and will allow you to design your jobs and get great 3D rendered views to show your customers like the one below. You will also get a cut list of all your materials as well of a complete bill of materials whether you build everything in house or outsource. This will give you an accurate accounting of your job costs. The software then gives you options of how to apply labor costs to your work. This method is much better for pricing your jobs than just applying a multiplier to your materials.

On top of this the software will optimize your sheet goods and print out cutting diagrams to help you cut waste and show you positioning of all of your dados, hardware holes etc, and will print labels for all of these parts to organize them.

If you build doors and drawers in house it will cut list them for you, and if you outsource it will give you the information for your purchase order. It is well worth looking into.

If you don't take advantage of the eCabinet Systems, look into one of the many other software packages that are available. They will save you a lot of money in the long run.

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