I have a two man shop. We are covered up with work but I have a few problems. #1, it is taking too long to get a bid together because we are so busy, so there's not a lot of time to do proposals, and since we are a fairly new shop (2 years), it is not in the budget to hire another employee at this time. #2, we have lost money on a few jobs because of poor estimating.
We have our doors and drawer boxes outsourced. I would like input on estimating cabinets per LF. I know the best way is material + labor + profit/OH = cost, but as said before, it is taking way too long to get these together. (I am working 18-20 hour days now.) So I just want to get in the ballpark to see if we have a chance of getting a project, then spend a bit more time on it. I have heard $XXX per LF, then add 20-50 per door and drawer and add 300-500 more for a full height cabinet such as a pantry or oven cabinet. And it has gone both ways.
Shops that do bid per LF... If you use a cost, for example, of $200/LF, is this 200 per LF for the bases and then $200 per LF for uppers? Then what do you charge for a full height such as an oven, pantry or fridge cabinet? Then a LF cost for custom islands?
From contributor B:
So much of it depends on where you are and what prevailing rates are. I use the rough figure of $200/LF for bases and $200/LF for standard uppers. That's finished plywood ends. Raised panel ends are priced at $15/SF. Full extension hardware or dovetailed drawers are extras. Extra drawer banks are extras. Full height cabinets are about $500/LF. Glazed finishes or other extras are extra. This usually works fairly well for me.
One of the most difficult tasks of a new, small shop owner is costing. You can spend hours of that 18-20 hour day working up numbers only to hear, "I didn't think it would be that much," and walk. For me, LF pricing is just a qualifier. I want to give them a quick price ballpark to see if we are still on the same page. If so, then I spend time on a formal proposal.
I would suggest that you go over your past projects, measure the LF, and divide it by your cost. Bump that number up a bit, and you have a good idea of how much it will cost you to build your average job. Then go back and readjust often. Keep your pricing in a spreadsheet. Figure the LF pricing for each kitchen, and then average the prices. This way you can tell if you had unusually high or low prices, you can exclude them. Or, if you have another very detailed kitchen, you can go back and find a similar one for comparison. Make notes like, "cherry @ $4.50/bf," or "melamine carcasses," or "non-standard sink unit." Add the things that will help you tweak your pricing in the future.
As far as details of LF pricing, I count tall cabinets as 3 (a base, a middle, and an upper). So, using the number $200, I would charge $1,200 for a 24" wide pantry (400 x 400 x 400). Contributor B's would be $1,000, if I understand him correctly. I count corner units x2. I also count the dishwasher and fridge in my tally. And I also count uppers and base units separately. Some people use a "wall" price where they include uppers and lowers. They would charge $400 a LF.
Also look for modular pricing like the guys have mentioned before. I used finished ends, so that is included in my price. Some guys will charge by the box, and then add for each drawer, pullout, door (it is more expensive to make 2 small doors instead of 1 large one), and the list goes on.
Another thing I suggest you do is keep records of your bids. See how close your guesstimates are to the actual cost. I don't like paperwork. But good estimating is one of the most valuable tools in your shop. It doesn't cost anything to own, you just have to feed it time.
But again, with any software to be able to spit out an estimate, someone is going to have to draw the design, enter material cost and so on. I am not trying to be lazy and get out of detailed estimating. I'm trying to be able to give a ballpark figure to a possible client to see if we are even in the ballpark.
I'm sure we all have done it... spent 10 hours on a great design with all the bells and whistles, a prefect material/labor list, just to have the client tell you that you are much higher that the other guy, or I already chose someone yesterday because he got me a bid in one day and it took you two. I know that there will never be that perfect answer.
KCDW also has a trial that costs less than $50. I've never used this program but those who've used both Cabinet Solutions and KCDW prefer the latter. They say the graphics are much better. If you can break the learning curve with eCabs, you'll be ahead of the game. It just proved too much of a challenge for me.
I will charge extra for anything I have to order, say from my hardware supplier - lazy Susan, trash pullouts, tipouts...
For what it's worth, I know you need numbers - I charge $425 a base, $325 an upper, $1,000 tall. Delivered but not installed, no subtops, no pulls. Those include necessary fillers, end panels, etc. I'm considered excellent quality but very cheap... Doesn't work for everybody, but it has for me (29 years old, 4 1/2 years in business and own shop, house, ranch, and tools outright with only money made from those 4 1/2 years). Also I'll charge extra for legs, arches, rope molding.
Again on pricing, I'm in Washington State (I find location to be just as important if not more than quality in pricing your product). I live in a very rural area where I could spend a day just getting back and forth from a job - for me, speed is important and I can put most bids together in 15 minutes, big jobs in 30 minutes.