I'm a one man operation and am fairly new to contract custom cabinetry, having done it as an employee off and on for about four years. I'm being asked to bid on what would be my third contract master vanity and am wondering if the pricing I've won on so far is reasonable… or too reasonable. I'm operating in the suburbs west of Boston, so prices are high. The general contractor is asking me to price the following vanity cabinet. (I would likely outsource drawer boxes and fronts):
- 54" wide overall by 32" high by 22" deep, paint grade, unfinished
- 22" wide sink base with single false front and two doors
- two 3-drawer base cabinets to either side of the sink base
- slab fronts for the top operable drawers and false front
- shaker style doors and four drawers, plus shaker end panel on one side
- left side of vanity scribed to wall with 1.5 filler
- pre-fin maple interior
- 4" toe kick with furniture base on right end (below end panel)
- dovetailed select maple drawers (two at about 4" high, 4 at about 10" high) -- all 18" deep.
Rough prices, anyone?
From contributor A:
4 1/2FT. x $125ft standard eurobox = 575.00
6 dov't drws with slides x 140.00ea = 840.00
6 heads Conestoga mdf x 50.00ea = 300.00
2 doors x 100.00 ea = 200.00
1 finished end plant door 125.00
wall scribe 40.00
This is using Conestoga MDF pre-primed
Shaker doors and their dov't soft maple dwr boxes. tw10716 paint grade maple doors.
Add 175.00 for shop primed.
Edgebanding 1MM stock white
prefin ply interior on level legs/clip on toe
day rate (builders) deliver/install 400.00
cabinet price = $728.00
Having done hundreds of these…
As for the comment about the Unisaw, I'm split between doing it on my Unisaw and Festool line boring setup (not fast by shop standards, but perfect) and subbing it out to a CNC, which is my standard method for anything large like a kitchen or walk-in closet. For full custom work, CNC blows everything else out of the water as far as I can tell.
I've spent a lot of time figuring out cost-efficient building techniques, and take a lot of pride in running a pretty lean operation. That said, with shop overhead, liability insurance, work comp, $3 gasoline, I can't build and install a 5' lavy for $750 and break even, let alone make a profit.
Out of curiosity, what're you low-end guys paying yourselves? What kind of overhead/profit margin are you figuring? What does your help get paid? What's your labor burden? Rent?
Contributor K, you actually built/installed two of these at $750 each with rabbetted drawers. How did the numbers turn out? Did you make out at that price? Would you do the job again?
This is kind of like the "Cabinetmaker" magazine survey where they throw out a set of specs for various projects and everyone estimates them - the same kitchen can be $6000 or $40000 depending on who and where...
I offer a service which is in fairly high demand and the market determines my prices, just as the market determines the price for a pair of Nike shoes. You might say that it's outrageous that Nike should ask $125 for a pair of sneakers. Nike asks what people are willing to pay, and if so many people weren't willing to pay $125, I can assure you Nike would drop the price.
I work full time, own a decent house well away from the city, drive a 12 year old Toyota, pay my bills and contribute to my IRA each year. Maybe a vacation every few years. That's how well off I am charging these prices.
Pricing comparisons on the internet are usually a waste of time. Pricing is subjective. It is determined by your location, and the economy in that location. It is determined by the volume of work available, which in turn determines the size of your plant, the type machinery you need, and the number of employees it takes to keep up with your work load. If there is a great deal of work, you have a greater flexibility to set your prices to whatever level you want and still keep your shop busy. In areas with little volume of work, pricing becomes more difficult. You can't afford to lose any job, as there just aren't enough to go around. As the volume of work available for you to bid increases, prices can go up because you can then afford to lose a percentage of the jobs and still stay busy. In other words, I think I am in a different market than the guys that get $2700 for something like this.
If I add those calculations back in, the vanities come in at just under $1000 each, which is still way under what many of the others posting here would get.
These vanities took
4 - 3/4X49X97 MDF
2 - 1/4X49X97 MDF
2 - 1/2X60X60 Baltic birch ply
45 - bd. ft. 4/4 Select and Better soft maple hardwood
(all of the above include waste)
12 - pair Hafele 3/4 extension epoxy coated slides
8 - Blum 120 degree clip on concealed hinges with face frame mounting plates
1 - Rev-a-Shelf Tip out tray kit split between the two vanities
Various glue, screws, staples and sand paper
All of this ran $543.60 for the two vanities together. This includes shipping charges for the hardware and my time and expenses getting materials. (I have to drive around 140 miles round trip to meet a truck and get hardwood and plywood. There are no suppliers that serve my area selling in less than full unit quantities. I usually have no less than four different species in the shop and I can't afford full units of each.)
My shop rate is $40 an hour and approximately $15.00 an hour of that goes to pay for the shop building, utilities, taxes and insurance. (Not much left for me and Uncle Sam.) I don't really know what time these took, because they were thrown in with another paint grade job I was doing at the time.
If contributor K's figures are accurate, and I don't doubt they are, $543.60 for materials doesn't leave much of anything for labor and overhead. And contributor K figured epoxy slides, with Baltic birch drawers (not Blum Tandem with solid maple drawers, as the questioner's specifications indicated).
So $885 with 38% net margins leaves $548.70 for material, labor, and overhead. How does your cost break down? If we use contributor K's material figures (which should be lower than yours, because he's using Baltic birch and epoxy slides), you would have $5.10 for labor and overhead (probably doesn't cover the cost of gas to even make a delivery).
Before I sit down and hard price a kitchen for a customer, I give them an estimate using a linear foot price. Lately I've bounced around between $750.00 and $900.00/LF for uppers and lowers. At $750 that translates to about $450 for lowers and $300 for uppers. Pantry boxes about $1200/LF. Islands! Man, they run the gamut, I start them at $600/LF of cabinet face, so if your 4' island has a 24" front box and a 12" back cab facing away, that's still 8LF of cabinet face. And then there's our all time favorite topic of vanities. They start in their basic form at $600/LF and as we speak, I have one in the shop that is a specialty cab with a bamboo leg design and distress finish, 22" x 36" x 30, for $2600.00.
Can I justify some of these costs? No! But let me tell you I lose bids at $750/LF. I'm too low, so I must have an inferior product, is the thinking. This is not rule of thumb throughout CT, but in lower Fairfield county, and I'm sure up in Boston where the questioner is, you throw away your cost sheet and make profit.
Out of curiosity this morning, I bid the questioner's cabinet as close as I could with the info he gave us. I don't do frameless, so I calculated this job outsourcing the boxes to a CNC shop, which would cut them out using blind dado construction and edgeband for me. This ran approximately $96 dollars, which is about what it would cost me to cut them out and machine them myself, so I don't see this adding anything to the cost of the project.
It took 3 sheets of pre-finished ply to do the job any way I cut it, nesting on router or ripping through a saw. There was a lot of usable off-fall, but I let this customer pay for it in this experiment.
I used Blum 120 degree hinges and Blumotion 18" tandem slides.
I outsourced the doors to Conestoga. (I don't have any of their Shaker styles in my system, so I used the hard maple CRP-10 with a machine edge, square bead and reverse G-Cove panel.) I also used one of these doors for the end panel.
I outsourced the drawer boxes to Conestoga also (dovetailed 5/8 pre finished hard maple with 3/8 bottoms, bull nosed sides and notching for slides).
I also put in a Rev-A-Shelf tip-out tray kit behind the sink front, as this is just standard with all my cabinets.
I also outsourced one 8' piece of hard maple colonial base from Conestoga for the end.
My total material cost was $1351.67
My total labor cost for pickup, assembly and installation was $407.67
Total cost to customer for the vanity below $2029.91.
My shop is a very small one man shop. All equipment is paid for (such as it is). I have no employees, so they get paid nothing, and I get almost twice that. The moral to this story is that I can see where the prices are coming from, but I couldn't begin to sell that vanity for even half that price in this area.