prices to install semi-custom cabinets
#11
  
I recently decided to give a shot at being an independent furniture maker but I also have lots of experience building and installing custom cabinets. I have an opportunity to do a modest kitchen with store-ordered, semi-custom cabinets but I'm really stumbling on putting together a quote. I don't expect anyone to tell me exactly what to charge but I am looking for some insight on how to arrive at a number. 

I know when you're talking about building and installing fully custom-made cabinets you charge by the linear foot. In my market that price is between $350-400/ft. How can I translate that to just installing premade cabs? I have a friend that's done lots of cabinets and he suggested looking at an hourly rate instead of basing it off the length. I can deal with that but I have no idea how long it might take me. That's why the price per foot number is more appealing to me at this point. I know every market is different, but cabinets are cabinets so I'm thinking you all must have some insights that can help me out.
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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#12
  Re: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by mr_skittle (I recently decided t...)
I agree that you should be thinking about an hourly rate; then add, add, add. You can probably install all the cabinets in a day with a decent helper. That's after they're delivered, unboxed, inspected (by you, with the customer), and in the kitchen. Now let's add. Are the old cabinets out? (If the customer wants to save them then tell him to take out whatever he wants, and he can't store them in the garage because you'll be needing to use all of that space.) Who's patching and painting the walls, and when? Are you scribing to a finished floor that needs to be protected as well? Is there crown molding involved, and if so is the ceiling reasonable level? Is it freshly painted? (You're going to hit it at least once.) Who's responsible for scheduling and paying the Sub.s? And whoever is purchasing the cabinets is also responsible for dealing with the supplier in all matters. Once you've got all that, just add for some protection, fasteners and adhesives and you're half-way there. Literally. You're overhead + profit is probably similar to your hourly rate. Now add 10% for unforeseen circumstances, and tell your customer it's there. On a project as complex as a kitchen remodel; something is going to go wrong. If we knew what it was we would itemize it. We don't so we'll just deal with it when we do. 

One last bit of advice. When you guess-timate your hours, break it down to each little task. Then every night, spend ten minutes writing down what you did, about how long it took, what took longer than expected, and what task(s) did you miss. With any luck they won't add up to much more than your profit. Your overhead is fixed, so all that's left is your hourly rate; basically you're working for a living, not running a business. But you can keep trying as long as you're in the black. Good Luck!
Sign at N.E. Vocational School Cabinetmaking Shop 1976, "Free knowledge given daily... Bring your own container"
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#13
  Re: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by mr_skittle (I recently decided t...)
Thanks so much, MstrCarpenter! You've given me a lot to think about.

Shortly after the original post I had one of those insights in the shower and realized to think about it in terms of days instead of hours. It's much easier to get my head around the job taking 3-4 days, and from there I can start to think about the 25-30 hours involved. It might seem like a silly difference to some but it really helped me. I think the time estimate is probably longer than it'll take for the actual install so it does account for some fussing around but probably not enough. We talked about removing the old cabinets but they haven't decided yet. They are old metal ones from the 50's. I've never seen ones quite like them so removal would be a wildcard. It's a 100 year old house with plaster and lathe walls so I will assume there will be a fair amount of fussing with getting uppers plumb and setting lowers level. The quote will account for it with the caveat that you never know what kind of hack job someone "hid" behind the cabinets. The existing cabinets are from an era where folks were updating to more modern electrical practices (light switches and extra outlets instead of pull strings, etc) and I've found that guys would sometimes just cover a hole instead of patch it.

I'd say it's about a 3/4 remodel as opposed to a full kitchen remodel. That means they are replacing the floor and will do paint and backsplash after cabinet install. That should be a timesaver. They decided to ditch half the upper cabs for open shelves so it's really not too big of a job. Something I just thought about last night, and that you mentioned, is about unpacking, inspecting, and staging everything. They have a little, detached garage but I have no idea if it's available.

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind here is that any estimate I give is very flexible. An old house like this can offer up many surprises. I know because I live in one.
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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#14
  Re: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by mr_skittle (I recently decided t...)
I saw a post on another forum by someone looking to hire an installer.

$50/cabinet. That might give you a starting point.
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#15
  Re: RE: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by rwe2156 (I saw a post on anot...)
(09-02-2021, 09:48 AM)rwe2156 Wrote: I saw a post on another forum by someone looking to hire an installer.

$50/cabinet.  That might give you a starting point.


A price per cabinet, or price per foot, is an attractive way to go and I really wanted to find some sort of 'formula'. I think when it comes to an old house remodel, a formula like that can end up burning you. You just never know what's behind/underneath the old cabs and what kind of time it might take to remediate issues. I think new construction, or a full gut-and-remodel job, would work better with a formula because you can get a full visual of the bare walls and know what's in store.

At this point I'm looking at $35/hr and giving myself around 25 hrs/ or 3-4 days. That comes out to around $35/linear ft. for this particular job. I'm not entirely sure what price per cabinet that comes out to since I don't have a drawing yet. That comes out to $840 and I'll quote for $1000 to cover supplies and some of the inevitable hiccups. I think a $35/hr rate is actually pretty low but I'm still trying to make a name for myself and build a client base. The nice thing is that my overhead costs are next to nothing. I'm working out of my home shop by myself. It's really just a bit of gas driving to the location and the wear-and-tear on my tools.
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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#16
  Re: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by mr_skittle (I recently decided t...)
$35 per hour is about half of what it should be. If you do not have liability insurance for this DO NOT DO IT. Anything could go wrong. You might run a screw through a wire and start a fire or cause a plumbing leak. Unlikely but s#@$% happens. Protect yourself. Do you need to be licenced to do this work? Are you set up as an LLC? Are you filing quarterly taxes and paying the double social security rate? These thigs are all a royal pain in the you know what, but if not done it could really come back and haunt you. $35 per hour is low for even a laborer. And I live just north of Green Bay. Wages and cost of living here is way below some parts of the country. Not trying to scare you,just want to make sure you protect yourself. No one else will. Good luck with the business.
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#17
  Re: RE: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by Turner52 ($35 per hour is abou...)
(09-02-2021, 02:53 PM)Turner52 Wrote: $35 per hour is about half of what it should be. If you do not have liability insurance for this DO NOT DO IT. Anything could go wrong. You might run a screw through a wire and start a fire or cause a plumbing leak. Unlikely but s#@$% happens. Protect yourself. Do you need to be licenced to do this work? Are you set up as an LLC? Are you filing quarterly taxes and paying the double social security rate? These thigs are all a royal pain in the you know what, but if not done it could really come back and haunt you. $35 per hour is low for even a laborer. And I live just north of Green Bay. Wages and cost of living here is way below some parts of the country. Not trying to scare you,just want to make sure you protect yourself. No one else will. Good luck with the business.

You make many good points! The answer to most of them is YES. I am insured, I do have an LLC. I have not considered the taxes and SS as of yet and I am not licensed. These are both on the to-do list. I know I have to deal with the taxes stuff but I'm hoping not to have to get a contractor license but I will check into it. I hadn't really planned on doing cabinets but if there is enough demand then I'll be obligated to look into what it takes to do it all legitimately. If I were to stick to custom furniture then a license won't be necessary but I have to go where the work is right?
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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#18
  Re: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by mr_skittle (I recently decided t...)
Couple of things in a stream of consciousness form.  


$35/hr will get you a name and rep. for sure ……………one you probably don’t want if you’re any good or plan on sticking around.  The low price leader is a hard moniker to overcome, and do you really want the sort of customer that is shopping price as their main bell weather ?    

Food for tHought.  If you charged $70/hr and lost half your business because of it, you’re in exactly the same financial position and have expended half the energy !
 

Pricing cabinetry and or installs by the “linear foot” is for suckers, neophytes, and trunk slammers.  Does your linear foot include upper and lower cabinets ?  Does Bob’s ?   $35 a linear foot becomes slave wages if you’re installing a base cabinet and an upper.  And if it has 3 piece crown and a light valence  Upset

Pricing by the cabinet ( by the piece really ) is a more detailed way to quickly figure our an install cost.  It’s still handicapped by the “particulars” though.  It costs more to install a pantry than it does a 12” base cabinet. Even more if it has rollout shelves or a European full pullout gallery.   A 36” base with drawers costs more than a 24” wall cabinet to install.  Don’t ever forget that a “space” for an appliance costs money to install also. Just as much as a cabinet or piece in some instances.  Yes Yes     If the cabinet has to be modified for a sink or appliance to fit - more time and money above the standard “box rate”.  And………on and on.  

IKEA charges (or charged $95) a box to insTall not that long ago.  If the cabinets needed assembling , that was another 95.
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#19
  Re: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by mr_skittle (I recently decided t...)
If you want to earn $35/hr that's fine. Take your 3 or 4 days at $280 and double it. You have overhead. Get insurance! You can get $500K for less than $100/month, (That won't go too far with medical claims but their attorneys will find others partially liable.) and having a registered and insured business is a great marketing tool. How much are you charging customers to consult with other woodworkers? How much for considering the project cost, typing a contract, getting it signed, depositing and tracking payments, phone calls to the customer and suppliers, and recording billable hours and materials for job costing? (Yes, you have to do this.) These tasks are done by your Office Manager (i.e., you) That's overhead. Charge for it or or go work for someone who'll bill you out at $70/hr, so their business will make a profit. I work with a lot of Contractors that won't start their truck for less than $500. Heck, it costs close to $100 to fill my truck and I have to do it every other day if I'm towing.

My last words of advice are about billing. Have a decent and fair contract with a payment schedule. First is a deposit (this and a signature make a contract). My last is "Folliowng customer walk-thru" which is usually a little more than 10%. Just before that is "Complete or substantially complete" They can write the check while I'm sweeping or loading the truck. (i.e. ; I'm not waiting 3-4 weeks for for the bulk of my money because we need a new drawer front.) Include a statement that charges for additional labor and materials will be billed separately and are due as costs are incurred. Don't wait, and don't add them to your final payment.
Sign at N.E. Vocational School Cabinetmaking Shop 1976, "Free knowledge given daily... Bring your own container"
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#20
  Re: prices to install semi-custom cabinets by mr_skittle (I recently decided t...)
I'm getting lots of info to think about here. Thanks again folks!

First of all, I know $35/hr is low but I haven't actually installed a kitchen in 4 years and being brand new to the scene I don't feel I have any business charging premium prices. I can say that if installing cabinets becomes a regular gig, my price will go up. I doubt that doing one job on the cheap is going to get be labeled as the "low price leader".

The points about overhead are well taken. The administrative time is something that I didn't really consider. I guess you can say the estimate is free, but someone has to pay for it. Iguess it's free if a customer gets an estimate from me and goes with someone else for the work. Then the job I do get ends up paying my rate that has the price of that "free estimate" baked in. Making the transition from employee to self-employed is a big paradigm shift. When you work for someone else, there are so many tasks that get done without you even knowing and the folks taking care of all that business are getting a paycheck, so why wouldn't I pay myself for doing them as the sole employee?

I have insurance all lined up but I'm waiting to buy it until I have a job or two lined up. I already paid for the LLC and a website and I hesitate to keep spending on the business until I at least have some work lined up. I've also reached out to a designer to help turn my chicken scratch drawing into a logo.

The info on billing is also appreciated but I'm not quite ready to cross that bridge yet. Its next on the agenda if/when this current job is accepted.
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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