One of the more common questions we receive here at Superior Shop Drawings is How Much do Millwork Shop Drawings Cost? Unfortunately, this isn’t a cut and dry question that can be answered without a taking several variables into account.

  • Are you hiring Overseas or using a Company based in the United States?
  • How Complex are your Shop Drawings?
  • How fast do you need your Shop Drawings?

In this bog post we’re going to take a deeper look into the question of How Much do Millwork Shop Drawings Cost and try to take some of the mystery away. This way, when you are ready to hire an Outsource Drafting Service, you’ll have a better understanding of the cost of preparing shop drawings.

Specifics aside, Millwork Shop Drawings should average out to roughly 5% of the Project Cost. That would mean a $30,000 Commercial Millwork Project should cost approximately $1,500 to produce Shop Drawings. Keep in mind that a variety of factors – such as material cost, repetition, and complexity of work could swing this figure in either direction.

Overseas vs U.S. Based Drafting Services

With Superior Shop Drawings being a Millwork Drafting Service based in the United States, it wouldn’t be fair for us to say that there were no benefits to hiring overseas. Hiring outside of the U.S. comes with lower wages and, in turn, lower project costs. We have been approached by several outfits in India offering to produce shop drawings for us at roughly $15 per hour.

A US Based Millwork Drafting Service will come with higher pricing, however, there will almost certainly be fewer issues associated with language and regional barriers. Pricing can vary wildly based on how the service is structured. For instance, someone with a full time job doing Shop Drawings on the side may be willing to work for as little $20 per hour. On the other hand, a larger company with overhead may cost upwards of $125 per hour.

Complexity of Drawings

Consider a typical Plastic Laminate Base Cabinet – on the surface, it is pretty simple. There are a couple of case parts, a couple of hinges, a door, and perhaps a drawer. There isn’t much needed beyond Plan, Elevation, and Section Views.

Now consider a typical Base Cabinet for a Custom Kitchen – on the surface, it is also pretty simple. You have the same case parts, door, and drawer but now you may also be dealing with a 5-Piece Door, a Face Frame, and Specialty Hardware. In this scenario, the Plan, Elevation, and Sections may take significantly longer to draw when compared to the Frameless Commercial Cabinet.

The type of Shop Drawings that are being produced, coupled with the complexity of the Millwork Scope of Work, plays a large factor in how much your shop drawings will cost to produce.

Common Pricing Structures

When it comes to pricing out Millwork Shop Drawings, there are two approaches that are most common. Some companies price Per Page and others price Per Hour. Neither approach is wrong, it is purely a matter of what works best for the company producing Shop Drawings.

Per Page Rate

Shop Drawings priced Per Page are done so with specific Drafting Standards in mind. This ensure consistency from page to page and simplifies the pricing structure. For instance – a 12′ run of base and wall cabinets may be billed at a rate of one page (1 Plan, 1 Elevation, 2 Sections) drawn at a certain scale to fit onto a 24×36 sheet.

Per-Page Rates fall into a wide range based on the company providing the quote. A small one-man operation may charge as little as $30 per page while an accredited designer may charge as much as $250 per page. I realize that this may seem like a massive range for pricing (and it really is a massive range) but like any other service – you have budget pricing and luxury pricing.

Hourly Rate

Where Per Page Rates focus on Drafting Standards to generate pricing based on page count – Per Hour Rates focus solely on time. The Shop Drawings will be estimated much like the Project was Estimated by the Millwork Supplier. Drafting time will be estimated in numbers of hours and multiplied by the Per Hour Rate to produce a final cost.

Per Hour can vary wildly from one company to the next. As outlined above – someone with a full time job as a Millwork Draftsman may be willing to work for as little as $20 per hour on the side. A company with overhead could charge upwards of $125 for their services. It really comes down to the type of work being quoted and the Staff / Reputation of the Drafting Service.

Superior Shop Drawings Pricing

Many years ago, I was working as a Cabinetmaker for a small Custom Cabinet Shop here in Pennsylvania. One day the owner and I were putting up crown molding on a large built-in entertainment center. He was up on a ladder marking molding while I was on the floor cutting miters.

Between all of the marking, cutting, and nailing – we struck up a conversation about time. He said something to the effect of We’re doing pretty well – I bill these miters at 6 minutes each. I was floored by the comment and couldn’t believe he got so detailed when quoting his work. For whatever reason, that comment stuck with me for years. It was the first thing that came to mind when Stephen and I started discussing pricing here at Superior Shop Drawings.

While we are not quite as laser focused with our time allotments, I think we are probably more focused than your average Drafting Service. We spend time looking at every Plan, Elevation, Section, and Detail in the Architectural Drawings in order to assign it a level of detail. Each view is assigned a level of detail which sets the allotted time per item. After we have poured over the project, we tally up the time and multiply it by our Per Hour Rate.

Because we want to be transparent with our customers and avoid surprises – we also produce a Drafting Scope of Work. Our Drafting Scope details exactly what we intend to draw. This is a time consuming process (which we provide free of charge) that virtually eliminates awkward instances of I thought X was included…

Superior Shop Drawings is a Millwork Drafting Serviced based in Pennsylvania. Stephen and I both have over twenty-years of experience in the business (both working in the Shop and as Millwork Engineers). As a result, our pricing is a little higher than the average Per Hour Rate. With that said, we feel that our experience and product quality make Superior Shop Drawings an excellent value for any Architectural Millwork or Custom Cabinet Manufacturer seeking to outsource their Shop Drawings.

Walt White