Fair market value for labor for this cabinet?

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Forum topic by shwoodnt posted 02-28-2018 09:35 PM 2332 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 1497 days

02-28-2018 09:35 PM

After building everything in the lower part of my kitchen myself, I sought my wife’s cousin’s help with an above fridge cabinet. More accurately, I asked him whether he (who has built cabinets, tables and much more) would be interested in building this cabinet for us.

He agreed, completed and finished the carcass, but now is asking not to be paid more than materials cost. When I said that wouldn’t fly, he suggested we take he and his wife out for a nice dinner when everything is done.

At the start I specifically addressed the point and my understanding was I’d be paying fair market value. The gain for me would be that he would pay attention to the details and I knew him to be skilled. Beyond that, I was going to hire someone else to do it anyway and pay them. So he was to put me in the same out of pocket position and my gain was the comfort of knowing his experience and skill was on the project.

So, now I have to come up with a figure. I paid for the materials. But what would be a fair market value figure for the labor to cut, build, and finish this cabinet?

photos of the carcass

He is coming over tonight to help install it. The plan was for him to also do the maple doors for this carcass, the green cabinet that will go above the revolving plate rack (although that will be more rectangular than curved now), and the red cabinet kitty-corner from this fridge cabinet (which will also now not be as circular). Actually, the plan remains the same, but I may have to change it if he will not allow me to put us both in a reasonable position.

12 replies so far

View jerkylips's profile


495 posts in 3344 days

#1 posted 02-28-2018 10:09 PM

Honestly, he’s family. If he doesn’t want to be paid fair market value, I’d respect it. Going out for dinner, spending the time together, might be more valuable to him. Plus, you never know when you might be able to return a favor down the road.

I understand wanting to pay for the work, but he sounds pretty insistent on what he wants & what he doesn’t want. I think a lot of people here feel the same way – when you have a skill & you’re able to help out friends/family, you’re happy to do it.

In short, I think you’re over-thinking it.

View Fresch's profile


489 posts in 2695 days

#2 posted 02-28-2018 10:34 PM

Fair market in your area with, healthcare, retirement, overtime, spousel time off, did you provide a prayer room?
I would think you could go to a custom/ kitchen outfitters and see the price. Looks like Christmas is coming early for your brother in law. Google the union rate in your area, $60 hr?

View clin's profile


1113 posts in 1770 days

#3 posted 03-01-2018 12:16 AM

Doesn’t look like all that big a job. So a good meal at a upper-end restaurant sounds like a great idea. Keep in mind he likely gets a lot of satisfaction out of doing this for family and simply wants to know it is appreciated.

As already said, be quick to return the favor when he needs help doing something.

You also might want to note if there is some shop tool, gizmo or “toy” he could use and get him a thoughtful gift.

Or go all out. Nothing says thank you like a SawStop ICS. Though that’s a bit more than a dinner out.

-- Clin

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4422 days

#4 posted 03-01-2018 12:40 AM

Clin has a great idea about buying him a tool.

You could take the surface area of the doors
and value that at $40-50 sq. ft. By that method
uppers and lowers in a kitchen would be around
$250lf, which is a rate at which a cabinet maker
can make a living at it in many areas. Of course
high end custom cabinets can cost a lot more
and the low end stuff a lot less.

View Andybb's profile


2762 posts in 1377 days

#5 posted 03-01-2018 01:05 AM

He wants dinner? Buy him dinner. He’s family. It all works out in the end. Kinda like the Godfather. “One day I’ll ask you for a favor….” and you will be able to respond in-kind. More fun that way. Nice dinner out for you guys and the significant others, some shop talk etc.. (Unless you don’t like the guy and don’t want to hang out with them).

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Knockonit's profile


675 posts in 976 days

#6 posted 03-01-2018 01:20 AM

yep, a lotta tradesmen i know won’t buy a tool, but if bought for them or a gift card for a tool, is a great idea, took me a long time to convince the other half to give gift cards in lieu of gift that no one will use, she got it after a gift she gave to family friend was re gifted to another friend, it was ok with me, at least someone got use outta the dang thing.
just saying.

-- Living the dream

View jonah's profile


2121 posts in 4072 days

#7 posted 03-01-2018 01:21 AM

That looks like a $40 bottle of scotch cabinet to me. Buy a nice bottle for him, go out for dinner, and call it good.

View Kelster58's profile


759 posts in 1314 days

#8 posted 03-01-2018 01:31 AM

On a large project I figure 3 times material cost is usually a good rule of thumb to pay for a project. When I do stuff for friends and family, cost of materials and a dinner out is all I want. Buy him and his wife dinner and be thankful for family and friends is plenty. I prefer family and friends to money.

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View Ripper70's profile


1377 posts in 1682 days

#9 posted 03-01-2018 01:39 AM

Kinda like the Godfather. “One day I ll ask you for a favor….”

- Andybb

Just hope he doesn’t ask you to off his wife for him!


-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View Andybb's profile


2762 posts in 1377 days

#10 posted 03-01-2018 01:56 AM

Kinda like the Godfather. “One day I ll ask you for a favor….”

- Andybb

Just hope he doesn t ask you to off his wife for him!


- Ripper70

Well, ya know what they say… “A friend will help you move. A good friend will help you move a body.”

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Charlie H.'s profile

Charlie H.

405 posts in 1424 days

#11 posted 03-01-2018 02:47 AM

You know I do a good number of fix it / build it things for my family and I don’t expect or desire them to pay me for it.
A nice meal (cooked or bought) and a visit is truly appreciated.

-- Regards, Charlie in Rowlett, TX --------I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.---------

View shwoodnt's profile


24 posts in 1497 days

#12 posted 03-01-2018 05:47 AM

Thank you very much for your advice folks.

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