Help me Price a Commissioned Built-In

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Forum topic by Brad posted 12-04-2011 11:38 AM 2214 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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129 posts in 3740 days

12-04-2011 11:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question refurbishing modern

Hi All- I’ve done several commissioned furniture projects to date and recently I had some friends ask me to do some built in cabinets. I’ve finished the design and materials pricing and I’d like to get some ideas from you all on where you’d price this project. I’m going to be doing all the construction, finishing, and install. I don’t want to low ball my price and present them unrealistic ideas of what built-ins cost where quality is desired. I live in an area with alot of new construction and alot of people are looking for built-ins.

A few facts

1. Birch 3/4 Ply Carcass
2. Poplar Face Frames
3. Blum soft close drawers and doors
4. Finished with white paint to match home’s trim.

I’ll answer any other questions needed to help you guys price it right.

Thanks for your input!


-- Brad --

15 replies so far

View woodworm's profile


14462 posts in 3557 days

#1 posted 12-04-2011 01:56 PM

The very basic costing that I used to calculate :-
Direct costs + indirect costs + 25% mark-up (5% to cover material price rise unexpectedly & 20% profit).

Direct costs : materials & your salary.
Indirect costs : cost of power, transportation, stprage costs if any.

Hope it helps, I’m sure others have better idea, coz I live in different country.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3710 days

#2 posted 12-04-2011 03:02 PM

The project you posted looks very straight forward, and you should be able to build the carcasses for these cabinets in the shop and transport, but you will have to do some trim work on site.
I just did a kitchen remodel, all the cabinets and woodwork. Since this was out of my normal area of work, I gave them a cost of materials plus an hourly rate. This worked out good for me, since, with some in work new ideas and changes, the job took almost three times longer than I originally thought it would. I gave the clients a ball park figure, but with the changes and other last minute add ons, I came out about 30% higher on the cost. Since everything was built on site and the home owners saw the craftsmanship and the details as they were being built, they had no problems with the overage. I even got two furniture orders from the deal.
The biggest hassle to me for the whole project was not being able to do most of the machining work on site. I was only a mile from my shop, but several trips a day back and forth got a little old.
I’m sure you’ll get some responses from guys that do this type of work all the time, that can help you more.

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3452 days

#3 posted 12-04-2011 03:09 PM

I make builtins as part of my income.
For me, the cost of materials is minimal…Birch ply with poplar face frame.
This project is all about labor.
8 glass doors/8 drawers/trim/installation/painting
Medium to high degree of difficulty.
How far do you need to travel? Logistics are important.

Other factors:
they are friends
how hungry are you for work
your skill level (how long to build/install correctly)
the economy of your area (upper class, middle, or depressed

I would charge at least $5K, and I never paint.
If you do it, and it turns out real nice…take plenty of pics, and video.
Start a website, and put your vids on youtube.
That helps a lot!!!

good luck

-- Steve--

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2646 days

#4 posted 12-04-2011 03:21 PM

About 5 years ago I’ve done a job almost identical to what you have minus the drawers and plus the fireplace surround. I’m pretty sure the job was $7,200. Your project… I would probably be around the $5,000 range.

-- New Auburn,WI

View dannelson's profile


193 posts in 2337 days

#5 posted 12-04-2011 06:00 PM

$400.00 per lin ft ball park. watch the glass price you can get killed on that, have the home owners supply,ever priced new old german wavy glass ? also any glass shelves ? lighting? tops? 17 depth adds materials /waste.scribes next to the fireplace surround?

-- nelson woodcrafters

View Brad's profile


129 posts in 3740 days

#6 posted 12-04-2011 06:40 PM

Hi all great stuff thanks for the info it’s great keep it coming. To answer a few questions.,

My shop is about 3 blocks from the job site.
I’m hungry but not starving for the work and I’d say my skill level is adequate for this.
Delivery time table I’ve advised them is 8-12 weeks which they are good with.
The economy of my area is upper-middle class, the the homes in our area are new construction with every nice fit and finish.

Thanks looking forward to more responses.

-- Brad --

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3513 days

#7 posted 12-04-2011 08:33 PM

I would look at charging in the 400.00 LF plus the cost of glass. Glass can be very inexpensive to very expensive depending on what u get. Simple straight forward job, but the cost of the unit in total would be 5,500-6,000. I just sent a preliminary bid yesterday on wall unit for 375.00 LF. Hope this helps.

-- .

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3452 days

#8 posted 12-04-2011 09:02 PM

I don’t know about $7-8K…Maybe in Manhattan…or if it was stain grade.
This is a paint grade job, in the neighborhood…for friends.
At $5000, you should make +/-$4500, (unless you have to pay for labor)

PS…I don’t like working for friends

-- Steve--

View Brad's profile


129 posts in 3740 days

#9 posted 12-04-2011 09:26 PM

It will have all glass door panels. From my research an oil based paint is the way to go. There will be 12 shelves of 3/4 birch ply with a solid poplar front edge.

-- Brad --

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3859 days

#10 posted 12-04-2011 09:47 PM

1 day to acquire all the materials
1 day to cut out and machine all the cabinets
2 days to cut out and assemble the doors
1 day to cut out and assemble the drawers
1 day to sand
1 day for the fireplace surround
1 day to assemble, install hardware
2 days to paint
1 day to deliver, organize job site and return tools
2 days to install……….or one very long day

labour,………3,500 to 4,000 if you charge 35/hr. Anything less is pointless
add overhead like electrical, heat, taxes,vehicle charges
add materials

I prefer if the customer buys the materials, as it is one thing less, that you could get burned on.

As a rule. I would never do a project for a friend, a neighbour and or a relative with the assumption I will get paid as it is most often the case that you will loose a friend, damage family relations and or distant your neighbour.

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

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4904 posts in 3926 days

#11 posted 12-04-2011 10:55 PM

Here’s how I price:
1/3 materials
1/3 labor
1/3 profit
In case ya haven’t figgered-I do cost-plus on all stuff.
I cost labor at $30.00/hr.
Materials are subject to the project/finish.
Labor is subject to mileage.
Profit is MINE.
If the customer doesn’t like it…........well, its your call.


View Loren's profile (online now)


10263 posts in 3614 days

#12 posted 12-04-2011 11:04 PM

$4-5k minus the glass if you want the job. Bid it higher if you
want to give your friend sticker shock and inspire him to approach
other shops.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3034 days

#13 posted 12-05-2011 01:28 AM

I would be charging ~$5k – $6k for that. You’ll need to use tempered safety glass and that isn’t cheap.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3452 days

#14 posted 12-07-2011 02:20 PM

So, what did you charge, and did you get the job?

This thread got me to thinking about my own pricing.
Instead of hijacking this thread, I’ll start a new one called curious about pricing.

-- Steve--

View Brad's profile


129 posts in 3740 days

#15 posted 12-09-2011 09:17 AM

I’m quoting $5200 which includes, construction, all soft close doors and drawers, finishing, install, and glass. I meet with them this weekend to look at all my sketch-up models and the quote. We’ll see if they go for it. I think they were unsure what something like this would run.

They want to do a fireplace surround either right now or later and that part is not included in my quote.

Hopefully I’ll get it!

- Brad

-- Brad --

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