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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Construction & Renovation > Built In Shelves

Built In Shelves Cost

How Much Do Built In Shelves Cost?

low costDo-It-Yourself:$140-$500average costHandyman: Around $1,400high costCarpenter: $2,000-$5,000+
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Built-in shelving can be a space-saving way to take advantage of wall space while adding personality and flair to a room. Typically trim and molding are used to add architectural flair.

Typical costs:

  • A do-it-yourself built-in bookcase using 3/4-inch veneer plywood and trim takes about 8 hours and $200-$500 worth of materials, according to[1] . describes a corner built-in plywood bookcase[2] for a weekend's worth of work and about $140 in cabinet-grade plywood and other materials.
  • Veneer plywood is often used because it's stronger than soft woods like pine; says buying enough oak or other high-quality lumber for an 8-foot bookcase could cost thousands of dollars and estimates that a built-in oak bookcase 8 feet high and 12 feet long takes about $1,400 in materials, including hardware and finish.
  • For basic built-in bookshelves, you might hire a home handyman for anywhere from $30-$125 an hour, or negotiate a flat rate for the labor for the project. Exact costs will depend on the complexity of the unit and the going rate in your area. Be sure the handyman has the expertise to determine proper weight loads (so the shelves don't sag over the years) or is following a published plan so all the calculations have already been made. sells step-by-step instructions[3] for $9.95 for an easy-to-build floor-to-ceiling wall of bookshelves using about $350 in materials.
  • Hiring a finish carpenter or a furniture builder to create one-of-a-kind built-in shelving units for your home can require hours of labor. Total costs can run $2,000-$5,000 and up, not including the cost of lumber and other materials. Prices vary based on complexity and standard labor charges in your area. Rates for finish carpenters or furniture makers in urban areas on either coast are often twice what they are in the Midwest.
Related articles: Wainscoting, Custom Closet System, Crown Molding, Drywall

What should be included:
  • Built-in custom shelving can add character and a sense of permanence to a room, and it can also provide for more efficient use of space -- if properly designed. provides a brief history of built-in furniture and gives tips[4] for designing and building built-in bookcases.
Additional costs:
  • Black & Decker publishes a Complete Guide to Custom Shelves & Built-ins[5] that retails for $24.95.
Shopping for built in shelves:
  • Find examples of the style you want. displays twelve ideas for built-in storage[6] ; and presents a gallery of projects by craftsmen nationwide, including a basic open bookcase[7] and a partially enclosed unit with recessed lighting[8] .
  • Get several estimates, making sure they're all for the same materials and specific design. Request and check references; ask about length and type of experience; and see if there are any complaints with the Better Business Bureau[9] . Ask family and friends for recommendations, or check with local cabinetry makers or hardware stores for recommendations. For extensive or complex projects, contractor referrals are available from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry[10] .
  • The final written contract should include cost, payment schedule, start and completion date, plus a detailed description of the work to be done and the materials to be used. The payment schedule should be based on the pace of work and when materials are delivered to the site; do not pay the full cost until the work is completed to your satisfaction.
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