Another pricing question

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Forum topic by Axiom posted 03-30-2010 05:19 PM 1268 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 3031 days

03-30-2010 05:19 PM

I’m a framer by trade, and know very little about the business end finish work and cabinets. A good friend of mine has asked me to install the new kitchen cabinets he is planning on purchasing, and insists on paying me by the hour. However, I don’t want him to end up paying me more than he would pay a professional, as it will certainly take me longer than a professional, and I doubt my work will be as good (although I’m sure it will be better than some of the crap I’ve seen out there). He is a close friend, but we have always had the relationship that we work for each other at reduced rates (he a mechanic).

So I’m trying to figure out what the pros would charge (just for labour, not the cabinets). Anyone have any input on pricing (either by hour/linear foot/or a general number)?

There is about:

6 feet of cabinets on wall A (top)
6 feet of cabinets on wall A (bottom-counter)

6 feet of cabinets on wall B (top)
2 feet of cabinets on wall B (bottom-counter)

He is keeping the counter-top he currently has.

All of these measurements are just the cabinets, they don’t include the appliance widths.

This isn’t really for my business, more of a favor (so I get all the stuff about overhead, value of time, etc, etc, etc). I’m just looking to charge him about 1/2 of what he might pay a pro. Ballpark figures and estimates are fine.

6 replies so far

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3034 days

#1 posted 03-30-2010 05:42 PM

I used to install cabinets for a guy who designed kitchens and ordered through cabinet manufacturers. This was before IKEA and Home Depot got popular. I was paid $25 per box to assemble and install. No countertops. Some boxes were small, some were big reefer cabinets. Made out well on some installs, others that were not level or square were more of a problem, so it depends on several factors.

You mention he has countertops already. Are you going to have to remove the old cabinets? Are you sure the new ones fit the old footprint and that the tops will fit? Are the walls plumb and square, is the floor level? Plumbing or Electrical work involved? Molding on the uppers? What kind of height adjustment is there on the bases, if any?

Hard to suggest what it might cost or what you should charge.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View Axiom's profile


4 posts in 3031 days

#2 posted 03-30-2010 06:48 PM

Thanks Michael. I guess I should have given much more info.

This will involve removing the current cabinets (while saving the countertop) retrofitting the new ones (according to him they are slightly smaller than the old, but it should be fixable with caulk and grout…but keep in mind he’s a mechanic :) ), probably a ton of re leveling and repair on the walls. The only plumbing and electrical will be cutting in the new access holes under than sink, and reinstalling a phone line to one end. The uppers will have quarter round given space constraints. There will also be all the standard finish work (kick plates, hardware, etc)

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3922 days

#3 posted 03-30-2010 06:58 PM

a rule of thumb

installation is generally 10 to 15% of the total for what he/she paid for the cabinets so for example if he/she paid $ 10,000 for the cabinets, the installation would run between 1,000 to 1,500. Seeing how he/she is using the existing counters that would be an “extra” charge above the quote.

If they are “used” cabinets, the amount would be the same as if they were “new” cabinets.

I pay my installer 450 a day and he’s worth every dime.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Wood_smith's profile


260 posts in 3054 days

#4 posted 04-02-2010 01:25 AM

My mechanic has a small two-bay shop and charges me $55./ hour labor, but we’re not close friends, so no “mate’s rates”. I would charge him $40 an hour for building a cabinet. If I was building a cabinet for a friend, I would charge $20 an hour, which to me is enough to (a) show him I’m at least semi-professional (I do it part-time) and (b) make it worth my while.

Having said that, I usually try to give them an estimate of time before we close the deal (e.g., this bookcase should take about 3 hours total, thus $60 labor) and if I go over the estimated time, I swallow the loss.

Hope that helps…

-- Lloyd Kerry; creator of the Kerry-All Pouch,

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3026 days

#5 posted 04-02-2010 01:52 AM

You can charge him 2 ways. If you instal new cabinets in a new room it is a straight forward rate. Percentage of cost of material. This job sounds like you are first going to GUT the room, SAVE material so you can use some to finish the job. I would charge by the hour to gut the room and save materials. Next keep in mind. When you work with new material your time is faster, old pieces take some extra thinking to make the, fit and look good. Also old material has old nails, planing through paint. Your tools wil take a toll using used material as well. Remember. It is great to save him some money BUT when the job is finished it will be your name that is mentioned when someone asks. Who did the work ?

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3034 days

#6 posted 04-02-2010 02:46 AM

Very good points, canadianchips.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

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