Typical budget for cabinetry in new homes

vrajkumaAugust 13, 2013


What is the typical budget a reputable builder allocates for cabinetry in a new home (kitchen, baths, wet bar etc). My contract with builder is 720K to build a 4700 sq ft home in a very desirable area in Austin. Cabinetry was not a negotiated allowance in the signed contract, but he is only budgeting 21K. Seems very very low. Any advice?

thank you.

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That is extremely low. Our house is only 3500 sq ft and our budget was way more than that...maybe triple? And that didn't include the built-ins and PR vanity which was made from furniture. And our cabs aren't even some crazy expensive line...just maple cabs with painted finish. They are fine, but certainly not Christopher Peacock!

I would definitely ask your builder what you are getting for $21,000...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 8:51PM
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That seems excessively low to me. Our budget for our home in 1990 was 20K, and we used it all in a more modest 2400 sf home.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 8:51PM
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You should ask your builder for which cabinets are included, the quality and features.

I would expect to spend that sum on mid-range kitchen only cabinets. Then there are the countertops, cabinet lights, backsplash, etc.

Texas is a comparatively economical area for building, but yours is a large house and I would expect large rooms and a relatively high number of rooms with cabinets. That said, this sounds like a typical builder approach of keeping the contract price low by including insufficient/inadequate allowances for items. Are there other allowances?

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:28AM
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We will have a huge kitchen in our 4,600 square foot custom home in a desirable neighborhood in the southeast (similar price range to yours). Tons of custom cabinetry made locally (more than we know what to do with) & a large island. All in, it is just above $35k (including tax, installation, etc.). We received a quote for Bremtown cabinetry at $58k & Holiday cabinetry was $65k.

My mom remodeled her much smaller kitchen in the same city in a desirable neighborhood & she paid over $30k for her cabinetry, which was nothing particularly special.

I honestly feel very happy with the cost of our kitchen. I think you need to bump your budget up significantly! The kitchen is the heart of the home, & I don't think you will like a $20k kitchen in the caliber of home you are building.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:54AM
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Unless you have a miniscule kitchen in that 4700 sq ft home, that is not nearly enough. And, is your builder including any other built-in cabinetry (like mudroom, or bookcases in library, or bathroom vanities) in that allowance amount? Sometimes builder say "cabinetry allowance" and they're thinking every built in cabinet in the house while the customer is only thinking "kitchen cabinets."

Your builder may be telling you that his carpenters can build custom cabinets for you for less than what you would pay for off the shelf stuff at the big box store. That may or may not be true. Depends on just how good his carpenter is.

However, I suggest you do this...

Take your kitchen plan to a big box store, pick out some stock cabinetry that you could "live with if you absolutely had to" and have them do a full kitchen design for you and give you their estimate. Get their "installed price." (Lowes and Home Depot both provide kitchen design and estimate services for free so all that this will cost you is a few hours of time.)

Then, insist that the builder use that number as your absolute bare minimum allowance and also that your contract give you the option of simply taking the allowance amount and getting your cabinets from someone else if you are not satisfied with what builder can offer for the allowance amount.

That way, you'll know that IF your builder is underestimating the price at which he can provide custom kitchens cabinets for you, you at least have the option for getting "something you can live with" within the amount budgeted. It might not be custom but at least you would not feel absolutely forced to go over budget. Plus, if you have the option of taking the allowance amount and going elsewhere for your cabinets, it removes the incentive that builder has to underestimate the allowance now in order to get your business knowing that later on, you'll cave into a major up-charges rather than get stuck with an ugly cheap looking kitchen in your new home.

Alternatively, instead of agreeing to an allowance, specify in detail exactly what you expect your kitchen to look like and then get builder to simply agree to include those specs as part of the turn-key price and remove the "allowance." That way HE has to figure out what it will actually cost him to provide you with the kitchen you've specified.

To specify custom cabinets, you need to have shop drawing that show the number, size, and placement of the cabinets, drawers, shelves and then specify type/quality of materials and workmanship required. Eg., how thick the materials used will be, exactly how the cabinets and drawers will be put together (eg. dove-tailed or "mortise and tenon" joints? face-framed or frameless cabinets? raised/recessed/flat panel doors? glass inserts? type,quality and positioning of glides? hidden door hinges? soft-close hinges? any customized cabinet or drawer divider? pulls? knobs? what stain/paint/varnish will be used? number of coats of each that will be applied?

If you don't specify everything in advance, I can promise you that your builder WILL wind up telling you that your allowance (however much it is) will not cover the quality of cabinets you want.

BTW - I too am in the Austin area and I highly recommend David Benitez of B-Squared Woodworks if you're looking for a custom cabinet builder.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Yes, we had an indie KD do our drawings, independent of the architect's plans. It cost $1,800 for the kitchen & bath plans, but was well worth it. We got exactly what we wanted, & she had no hidden agenda. We brought those plans to the GC & he bid out the job locally, & we got a couple of quotes from other places ourselves. With her plans in hand, we knew we were comparing apples to apples for all the quotes.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:53PM
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Yes, that seems low. We spent about 40K and that included kitchen, 3 baths, laundry, dining room built in and basement bar. It did not include built-ins.

We used a mid- priced cabinet line.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 6:37PM
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Ours is 80k - 4,700 sq feet with custom cabinets in office, master bath (2 large vanities, 3 other bathrooms, kitchen with double island, laundry and my office. They are totally custom with soft close drawers, all wood etc...

21k seems very low

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:51PM
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I think you need to review more than just the kitchen cabinet allowance. 720K to build a 4700 in Austin is way too cheap. We built our house six years ago OUTSIDE of Austin and it's worth that much.

A new home of that size in a "very desirable area in Austin" should be well over $1M. I just searched for new construction homes in Westlake on Redfin and the average price psf is $285. Be very careful to not go with the lowest bidder. In Texas, crooked builders are plentiful because there are no regulations and builder fraud rampant.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 9:53AM
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Quality doesn't come cheap in a boom town, or anywhere else. I agree that the overall pricing on the home seems to be worrisomely low. Not just the laughably small cabinet budget. In my low cost area, which isn't a boom area, there's an area in town with 5-6K square foot homes going up as an infill. They are in the 900K-1.3M range. And the overall cabinet budget for them has been 100K-150K. Just the kitchen/butler's pantry is 60% of that. There's also the baths, entertaining wet bar, library, mud room, laundry room, garage, master wet bar, and MIL kitchenette in the 900 sf casita.

The ONLY way I can see 21K working is if they are flat pack Chinese cabinets, or site built crap. Stuff builders cram into entry level homes with the dubious description of "custom" attached.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:15AM
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To simply answer your question:
It is usually 6 to 8%

Your allowance is extremely low.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:02AM
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The key question is not how big is your house, but how big is your kitchen? You can have an efficient kitchen with high-end cabinets--plus a no-frills pantry--for the same or lower cost than acres low- or mid-range of cabinets in a sprawling kitchen/cafetorium.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:13PM
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"720K to build a 4700 in Austin is way too cheap"

Maybe if you go totally custom. But there are plenty of good quality production builders in the Austin area who offer 4000sf+ homes for less. None of those have cabinets worth 20k+




    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Jrldh - Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Especially since OP said that the cabinets are not a negotiated allowance but has a specific budget.

I was just assuming this was a custom home. OP, would you clarify?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Thanks to all of you for your inputs. I'll clarify some things that came up in the discussion so far:
- the 21K budget is only for the cabinets in kitchen, baths and wet bar (installed). No custom cabinetry anywhere. Estimate around 60 linear foot across the house.
- the cabinets I am getting in this budget from builder is from midcontinentcabinetry http://www.midcontinentcabinetry.com/style/search.php#category. I am getting Portico/broadmoore style for kitchen and master bath and Towne/Concord in all baths/wet bar
- It is a big kitchen (18x20 wall to wall) with 28 linear foot of cabinets and an island (4x7)
- the whole issue came up because I went to COSTCO (allwoodfast.com) and was getting better quality cabinets for around 26K (material only). My builder then told me that if I want he'll give me 21K to go to COSTCO, but that is the budget he is paying to the mid continent cabinetry distributor for material+installation. Maybe he is lowballing his budget so I'll go with his sub?
- The house is in the GreatHills area (78759) The builder sold me the lot and the total price is 720K with construction. It is custom. We designed every aspect of the house layout from scratch with a designer and reviewed with architect.
- There is no negotiated allowance for cabinets. Just that the builder said 21K if I want to go with someone else and that seemed too low (material + installation).

thank you again.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 7:10PM
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naf_naf, when you said 6-8% is the typical budget, is it of the home value or the construction cost? I would assume land value would vastly differ based on the area. thanks.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 7:26PM
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There is a HUGE markup on cabinets! I built a (first one)spec house a little over 5yrs ago. It was 3850sf. I got quotes from HD & L for just the kitchen. Both were in the 23 grand range. I cked with several local cabinet makers and ended up going with one of them. I had more options and better grade cabinets than either HD & L. None were particleboard or MDF. All plywood sides with veneer, solid fronts. With the local, all cabs in kitchen including large island, 2 bath, MB and the laundry room, the price was $12,600 installed!!! Ck with your local cab builders. This was in a very high end gated neigborhood and sold for over 600k.

This post was edited by robin0919 on Sat, Aug 17, 13 at 22:08

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 7:25PM
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Has anyone used costco cabinets? Is their design service better than home depot/lowe's? Are Costco cabinets better quality than other big box stores?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 8:36PM
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dreambuilder, I contacted All Wood Cabinetry through Costco in the fall for our bathroom vanities and storage cabinetry. We communicated via phone and email. I sent them a floor plan with the areas in question. Within 3-4 days, they sent me a design and quote. They strongly encouraged me to send for a sample door. Here's where I ran into a problem. I told the rep I was dealing with that I did not want to get a sample door until they could answer my question regarding what kind of wood they used for the cabinets. I had previously asked that question 3 times (two voice mail messages and one email) with no response.

We already had a quote from a local home consultant center. We wanted hickory cabinets without any mdf. DH is building our laundry (maple) and kitchen (mahogany) cabinets and wants the quality of the other cabinets to be just as good as what he is building. We wanted to see if the quote we received from the Costco associated company (which was higher than the custom build from the home center) was comparable in construction and woods.

Here was their reply:

"For the door styles you requested, they are made from maple or a species of solid hardwood with characteristics that are similar to maple and will provide a consistent finish.

"Maple is the primary species of wood; however we cannot guarantee that all of the wood used is maple. If maple is not available, a similar species of solid hardwood is used to ensure consistency in finish and durability.

All of our cabinets are put through the rigorous testing by the KCMA standards and are KCMA Certified. We stand behind our quality which is why we offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty on all products."

We decided to go with the local home consultants with local cabinet makers. I haven't regretted that decision. Mainly because the rep has been to our house several times to measure and sent us several revisions to our plans when framing changed the size of cabinetry. And, if there are any problems with delivery or the cabinetry we will be dealing with a local person. For us, that was worth it. Plus, it ended up being cheaper for better quality cabinets!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:20AM
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We don't have final prices yet but three local cabinet makers are telling us that their costs are nowhere near the cost of semi-custom cabinets. All three guys are in the design/quote stages now so we shall see....

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Ours came to 6% of the building cost, not incl. land, and are mid-range quality. We are using a local cabinet maker, shaker/basic door, basic stain color, soft close hinges, maple, plywood box, crown molding.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:51AM
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Sophie Wheeler

There is a HUGE difference between crap site built cabinets and good quality shop built (and finished) cabinets. There are a ton of site built hackers in TX for some reason. They get away with doing it because the builders dont demand better and the end users only hear that propaganda word ''custom'' without delving into the actual details. If it's not built and finished in a craftsman's shop, RUN. Even then, shop built cabinets won't have as durable a finish as any factory built cabinet. They usually use a post cat lacquer rather than a pre cat one, simply because its easier and requires less safety equipment. But it's not as durable. But at least you aren't getting overspray on the glides and bugs in the finish like with site built.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 12:02PM
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I didn't know some places would finish on site. That seems like a huge mess. Interesting.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:14PM
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