SolidSurface recently asked U.S. fabricators to help answer that question by providing data about material and labor costs, and how they relate to wholesale and retail pricing.
We chose four typical projects: Custom Kitchen, Spec Kitchen, Convenience Store and Whole House, and asked you to submit a bid based on standard pricing methods. We also asked you to provide information about your geographic location, number of employees and whether you use estimating software when coming up with a price.
What we found is prices for wholesale and retail solid surface installations vary widely. While most quotations in each of the four projects were relatively close to the average price, the extremes between the low and high end prices were remarkable -- sometimes as much as three times the difference. There seems to be little correlation between geographic location or the use of estimating software, and what might be considered the going rate. We did find that the overall average cost of materials per job runs 44.5 percent of a wholesale installation and 35.75 percent of the retail price.
Project #1: Custom Kitchen
Typical of a custom installation found just about anywhere in the country, this project elicited the greatest number of responses. Of the four featured projects, this shows the strongest correlation between size of shop and quoted price. Mostly small shops (1 to 9 employees) quoted prices higher than the average (a total of seven). Only one medium-size shop (10 to 19 employees) and two large shops (20 plus employees) submitted prices at the high end of the spectrum. One-third of small shops use estimating software when making pricing calculations, compared to 60 and 62.5 percent of medium and large shops, respectively.
Project #2: Spec Home
White countertops with a drop-in stainless steel sink -- this is pretty straightforward stuff. The range between the low-end and high-end prices were quite extreme, considering the simple design of the kitchen. When taking size of company into consideration, quoted prices were fairly evenly split on both sides of the average price.
Project #3: Convenience Store
Lots of countertops, a drop-in cooler and a nighttime installation differentiate this project from the typical residential job. Yet, for a commercial installation, it is standard fare. None of the smaller companies responding to our survey came in with prices below the average, indicating that additional manpower in medium and large size shops seems to make the process more efficient.
Project #4: Whole House
For a residential job, this is a whopper. A large kitchen, complete with bullnose edge, decorative inlay and coved splash is just the beginning. The project also includes a laundry room, and three baths, all with unique edge and splash treatments. Just a handful of fabricators priced out this job, and only one was a small shop. Very large shops were more expensive that medium-size shops by a ratio of 3 to 1.