Can anyone help with confusion over custom cabinet bid

happyx5July 16, 2013

I'm gathering quotes for my new build kitchen cabinets and have tried to get a range of semi and fully custom national brand, and local cabinetmakers with the advise of this forum.

I received a bid from a Pa cabinetmaker who is recommended and discussed frequently on GW. They sent a detailed quote (as opposed to the high end national companies who just gave me a number range!) that seemed very reasonable.

My detail-oriented builder/GC, who I also happen to be married to, noticed that the basis of their bid is a flat dollar amount per linear foot of cabinetry, onto which they add everything "extra" like flush inset doors, any upgrades etc. to get the total. For my range wall that number is approx. 20 feet.

However, I have a 4' range and a 6' hood, for which they have an additional several thousand dollars of line items to create the hood. The Base charge for the range wall cabinetry says $X x20 ft. That's kind of a lot of extra linear footage to include when there are no cabinets there at all, and when they include a cost for the hood that they actually would have to make for that 6' space. Or am I missing something?

When we questioned the cabinetmaker he just said they bid jobs by the linear foot and that they could make a small allowance for our range (but not range hood?) being wider than average - taking under $500 off the bid, which is virtually meaningless in the face of what we're looking at.

Did anyone's cabinet quote contain anything like this? I'm hesitant to name the company but I'm hoping someone has seen this before and help me understand it. Because I love what I've seen of their work and would like to really strongly consider them.

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ginny20

Mine did not. I had custom cabs from a NY state Mennonite, and he did quote by linear ft, but it was the actual measurements of the base cabs and of the wall cabs, to the nearest tenth of a foot. The pantry and fridge surround were separate as were other extras.

That is not to say that what this company is doing is wrong or unusual, just not how my guy did it. Wish I could be of more help.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 3:32PM
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raee_gw

Are all of your various quotes for the same design (ie, a corner cab x size, 3 wall cabs y size, etc) with the same features? If so, I wouldn't worry about how each company arrives at their price, I would just compare the total price. If not, I would do that, so that you know that you are comparing apples to apples.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 3:38PM
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snookums2

I'm not clear on what you are saying. It is a 20 foot wall with 4-6 feet for the range/hood, yet they are charging for 20 feet, not less the range area?

They are building the hood, which has line items in the thousands? (I would consider that part custom).

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 3:38PM
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catbuilder

If you're happy with the total price, you shouldn't worry about how they arrived at it. If the price is too high, you could ask them what you can do to make it more reasonable.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 4:10PM
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happyx5

Snookums, yes, it's a 20 foot wall with 4-6 feet range/hood, but the base price was calculated at 20 linear feet, not minus the range. Plus, we were quoted extra several thousand for the hood itself.

Rae, yes, all the bids are on the same design so we are comparing apples to apples. So if I could resolve this double question it could save several thousand and make this cab maker more competitive with some of the lower bids I already have (I have way higher too but After seeing the numbers I know I'm not going with them)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 4:14PM
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greendesigns_gw

How they choose to arrive at their number is unique to their calculations. You're not going to get them to "throw out" the range unless they charge you a higher price for what's left. If you've ever looked at those silly "10x10" kitchen diagrams with pricing at any of the box stores, those include the appliances as well. Pricing by the foot, or any other method other than a direct one to one quote, is meaningless. What is meaningful is the bottom line only

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 4:58PM
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badgergal

The Amish cabinet maker that I used charged per linear ft. But he used actual measurement from detailed blueprints not the length of the wall. Before making the cabinets he did come to the house to remeasure and verify everything. I have a cooktop not a range but since they used the blueprint cabinet measurements they would not have counted included the range in there measurements. They did add in additional charges for items such as soft close, full overlay, glass, select cherry etc.
I live in the Midwest so you probably can't really compare but for what it's worth my base price of 30 linear ft (93.5 inch ht) was $6,340.
Delivery and installation was $1,200 and that included hiring a driver and 4 installers.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:40PM
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snookums2

It doesn't make sense to charge for building cabinets where there are none. It wouldn't result in consistent pricing across customers either, with the variable cooking (or other) configurations. And you are talking about 10 feet of non-existent cabinetry here, not an insignificant amount considering the cost per unit.

I think your husband is sharp and you have a right to question whether an error has been made. An explanation of charges is not asking too much either. He can charge as much as he wants but it's still your money to spend in ways you approve of.

I'd go by how dh feels about it, as he is in the business. If he thinks it's a reasonable method and amount, then weigh the bids accordingly.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Tue, Jul 16, 13 at 23:29

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 10:14PM
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raee_gw

I agree that they should (it seems) be charging for linear foot of cabinet only, not of the entire space. I would ask them again how and why they are charging for x feet of cabinet that are not going to exist..

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:09PM
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catbuilder

You've already questioned the cabinetmaker, and they've already given you an extra allowance. What more do you want? Look at it this way: over the years they more than likely have kept track of how much a kitchen (or whatever) costs them to make. They have come up with a way to quickly price a kitchen that is fair to them and to the customer, based on all their years of doing business. I'm sure they could take the time to price it out cabinet by cabinet, coming up with the exact same price. Except now they'd have to charge more, because of the extra time involved. Nobody wins with that scenario.

For example, do you have various sized cabinets? A 12" cabinet does not cost half as much as a 24" cabinet to build; it costs almost as much. So, if your design calls for 10 feet of 12" cabinets (10 cabinets), it is going to cost more than 10 feet of 24" cabinets (5 cabinets) would to build. However, your cabinetmaker isn't charging you by the cabinet, but rather by the linear foot. In this case, you would end up paying the same amount for either set of cabinets, although it would cost them about twice as much to build the set of 12" cabinets rather than the set of 24" ones. They've determined what the average cost to them per linear foot is, and also what items they will need to charge more for (their upgrades). They've found that it all works out in the end.

It was your cabinetmaker's mistake (in their attempt to be honest and forthright) to share with you their method of pricing. If they had just given you a total amount, you would not be questioning them. So either accept their bid, or not, but don't be petty with them about their chosen method of pricing a job.

1 Like    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 8:47AM
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soibean

It sounds like the cabinetmaker who built our cabinets. Their pricing method is their own, sometimes it works more in your favor, sometimes in theirs, depending on what they build in each linear foot (and yes, I am aware of the add-ons). In my case, there was one small area that felt out of whack to me - where I just needed a plain slab wood bench seat - so I had my GC do the bench instead.

I have to agree with the others - they price the job in their own way - you can agree with them or not, but the bottom line price is what matters. No one else will give you the kind of detail they do, nor the extremely reasonable price for upgrades. If you are unhappy with the price, go elsewhere. If I am right about the company, they are a joy to work with, incredibly nice, reasonable, and skilled. You would not be sorry if you chose to go with them, but if you go into a relationship feeling that you've been gypped, you could sour the whole experience.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 9:07AM
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millworkman

If they deduct the appliances where there are no cabinets the LF price will go up to make the same number as Greendesigns mentions (several others as well). The most important thing is the details of what is included and the bottom line. How they get to the bottom line is immaterial and depends completely on how they work their pricing.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 9:17AM
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snookums2

"but don't be petty with them about their chosen method of pricing a job."

Considering and questioning what we pay our good money for, especially a cabinet charge for 10 feet of vacant space, is not being petty.

I agree though that if their quote is within the range of the others and of comparable quality, it doesn't matter much. If they do in fact deliver (per soibean), you are ahead of the game and they have earned a bit of a premium anyway by being at the top of their game. How much you are willing to pay for that is up to you.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 9:43AM
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soibean

Here's another way to look at it. I'm not sure from your post if the base charge per foot is calculated separately for the base cabinets and the wall cabinets. Even if it is, on the base cabinets, they charged you per linear foot for the 4' range, then agreed to give you a $500 credit. That seems reasonable. For the hood, even though they priced it out separately, it is still part of the area they are building, so think of it as the base price for the hood, plus whatever extra based on the design of the hood. Sounds like the hood is pretty detailed just going by the price. Why not compare their hood price against others' hood price if anyone has given you that detail. Are they in line with others?

But all of that aside, it still comes down to the bottom line cost. They are not trying to cheat you - they are just giving you a lot of detail about how they price their jobs. Either the price works for you or it doesn't.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 10:00AM
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live_wire_oak

It never hurts to ask, "can you do any better on the price" but that's it. You don't get into haggling with how they came up with that price other than "what can I change about what I'm asking for that will make the price lower?"

It's very simple. Either you want to work with them for their price for the job, or you don't. If you do, then you pay the price that they've calculated your job will cost. If the price is too high for your budget, you either adjust your budget upwards, or adjust your expectations downward and purchase something else.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 10:19AM
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taggie

My custom cabinet maker priced the same way, and I also questioned him at first because it was new to me. He told me that over 20 years of building cabinets it's the simplest and fairest way he has of quoting and it all works out pretty closely in the end.

Think of it this way: all kitchens have appliance cutouts, it's not unique to your kitchen, and it's already factored into their price per foot to begin with. That is, he could have told you it's $500 x 10 linear base feet for the range wall so a total of $5,000. Or else he could have told you it's $833 per actual cabinet footprint after measurement, so $833 x 6 feet of base cabs plus $0 x 4 feet empty range space = 5,000. It's not like yours in the only kitchen that's ever had space for appliances, so they are already taking that into account in their calcs and it wouldn't have changed the answer. In fact, I'm amazed they even offered to give you another $500 off -- I would take it and run. :)

Same thing for the range hood. They already knew they were pricing the hood before they gave you the quote, so their hood price reflects the delta cost. Would it make you feel better to see it itemized as a lower price per linear foot, then a higher price for the hood? The number would be the same in the end because they know what it costs them to build you a quality kitchen and that's ultimately reflected in the bottom line,

I hope that helped. I know what you felt because I had the same initial reaction until my cab maker explained it to me and when I thought about it I saw he was right. Bottom line, if you think it's a fair price go with it, if not go somewhere else, but don't get too hung up on the methodology behind their calculations.

Good luck with your new kitchen!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 12:00PM
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happyx5

Thanks Soibean! I just didn't know if this is how they bid jobs for everyone that was so satisfied with them.

They're kind of in the middle of our estimates - not the lowest, certainly not the highest, and I'm still waiting for two other Amish cabinetmakers that my husband has, but it was just something that seemed odd and I was hoping someone familiar with them could confirm, so I could feel more comfortable with their bid.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 2:35PM
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SLTKota

As others have said, just look at the bottom line. If they start taking out feet for the range, hood, etc.. they will probably just increase the price per sq/ft.

My custom cabinet maker came out to my house and measured, asked me where I wanted things, and what upgrades I wanted. He was an old school guy who didn't design off of computers, he just drew it out by hand and built them in a shop in his backyard the same way he does for multi million dollar homes (where I got his name).

On my invoice the only line item added was $250 for a light rail (I decided to add after they started installing them so it was the only increase over the quoted price). Everything else was just lumped into each room's total because I ended up having him build cabinets for my laundry room as well. There was no break down for anything but I was more than happy with that, his price was well below any other quote.

This post was edited by SLTKota on Wed, Jul 17, 13 at 15:18

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 3:15PM
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edwardphill

It is a shame you aren't in New Hampshire. MY sister had some custom cabinetry done in NH. She said the price was more than she may have initially hoped, but she got FAR MORE than what she paid for.

like what others are saying it really differs company to company and how they bid. I use to work for a buddy who owned his own painting company in NH-MA, and he had a very competitive bidding system, but there were a number of clients who turned away because he would want 40% up front. But those that stuck with him, and took the bid and paid a bit more than what they would have with those "college painter" pyramid schemes admitted they got exactly what they paid for and were happy with it.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 7:44AM
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happyx5

Well this was a jog down memory lane! I just got an email from Houzz to my Houzz user name (which was my real name! What was I thinking?!) letting me know that this ancient thread had been updated :) I never got any alerts like that when I posted to GardenWeb.

I have been reading so many comments regarding Houzz' absorbtion of GW. Reading this over a year and a half later, I recall how badly some of the comments made me feel, ("Don't be petty..." and the condescending (and I might add inaccurate) "It's very simple... If the price is too high for your budget, you either adjust your budget upwards, or adjust your expectations downward and purchase something else." And I realized why I stopped posting and sharing things on GW.

Of course many members provided helpful responses, but it always bothered me that this and so many posts are often answered quite harshly... almost disrespectfully... by some of GW's most frequent and "well known" contributors.

Perhaps the transition to Houzz presents an opportunity to change the tone of the dialogue?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 12:45PM
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