How Much Does It Cost To Build Built-In Shelving From Scratch?

Built-in shelving is a feature that can elevate the atmosphere of a room with style and simplicity. These additions can fit right into any home, and a custom-built shelving unit affords you a unique level of variance that can support any decorative, color, or furniture style that may already be present in your home. Whether you're seeking a shelving unit that can support the weight and visual style of a full bookcase or you're looking to frame the television and display a few tasteful decorations, this addition fits the bill perfectly.

Fixr estimates that the typical built-in shelving unit will cost between $2,500 and $5,000, with a high-end creation ranging up to $6,250 and a budget option likely costing around $800. The price can vary dramatically based on the kind of material you select during the building process, as well as the size of the finished product. Likewise, many homeowners opt to build a simple design on their own, while a larger, more in-depth creation will benefit from the creative direction of a professional carpenter.

Brooklyn Based reports that many homeowners in the market for a new custom-built shelving unit may be unrealistic in their pricing expectations. The outlet estimates that professionals will typically charge between $850 and $1,100 per linear foot, with variance coming as a result of the expertise of an individual carpenter or the desired quality of materials (all-walnut shelves, for instance, costing a premium over typical hardware store lumber and plywood).

Factors for cost

When adding a built-in shelf to your home, many different design elements and customizations can feature in the finished product. Regardless of the layout you are favoring, a few key components play a primary role in determining the overall cost of the construction and installation.

Labor costs can dramatically change the price

Brooklyn Based estimates that a typical carpenter will charge between $850 and $1,100 per linear foot to build and install a new shelving unit. Unlike a prefabricated bookshelf, chest, or other piece of cabinetry, a built-in design is one that is created with a specific location and purpose in mind. It's developed to match your home's needs while fitting in perfectly with the space that it will occupy.

Fixr estimates that a prefabricated shelving unit will cost between $200 and $1,500 with installation included while a built-in variety ranges from $1,500 to $4,000 (for a solid wood, 5 linear foot option).

Often, a custom piece will be created with the help of a professional carpenter who will quote you a price that takes into account the material and time-based costs of construction and installation, as well as a markup that represents their individual skill.

Homeowners can reduce the costs of a built-in shelving unit by crafting the piece themselves; although, without substantial DIY chops to back up the project, the finished item may be noticeably lacking in quality. This tradeoff is something to keep in mind as you go about sourcing quotes from local craftspeople in your area.

Materials sway cost per linear foot more than any other component

Materials play a major role in the overall cost of the project as well. Local prices can vary widely based on availability and stocks (considering the logistics involved in moving heavy and often large lumber goods), so sourcing prices in your local market is crucial. The Hardwood Store of North Carolina, for instance, lists cherry at $5.25 per board foot, walnut at $8.25 per board foot, maple at $5.95 per board foot, and red oak at $2.75 per board foot, each at a 4/4 width.

For a luxurious hardwood finish, opting for one of these upgrades over MDF boards or plywood from the local construction and home improvement store is a must. These hardwoods (among many unique options) give the project an elegance that simply can't be matched by other, cheaper lumber alternatives.

Fixr also reports that a metal or glass fabrication can change the cost basis, with metal construction running from $450 to $800 per linear foot and glass averaging between $750 and $1,200 per linear foot, each complete with installation.

Location-based restrictions can raise the cost of installation as well

Lastly, the location of your property can change the overall cost of the project dramatically. Forbes Advisor warns that supply chain issues resulting from ongoing trauma to the global and local marketplaces, as well as labor shortages that are inevitable given the current climate, will affect the availability of goods and the cost of both materials and labor.

Additional costs

In addition to the more apparent cost factors, customizations, cabinetry features, and other stylistic elements can affect the cost of fabrication and installation.

Glass or wooden doors, drawers, and other features factor into the price

Many homeowners seeking this addition to their living room, bedroom, or entertainment room will want to add drawers, doors, and other features that transform the shelf from a simple storage solution into something that adds intricate design elements to the space and enhances the overall visual experience.

Adding shelves around the TV, for instance, will frame the television unit on the wall, providing a unique backdrop to whatever is playing on the screen. Yet, adding a closed storage section beneath the television is likely something worth pursuing so that you can hide away additional wiring, unneeded cable boxes, unused game controllers, and other components of the home entertainment setup that can easily become eyesores if left out. Fixr reports that a customized shelving unit that's installed around a television will typically cost between $1,500 and $4,000.

Shelf height changes the cost basis calculation

Shelving units can be built to any height specification that you might have in mind. A floor-to-ceiling addition that resembles a library bookshelf can be a great addition to a home office, for instance. Other homeowners may be seeking a smaller build that adds essential display case space in a prominent, communal room in the home. The taller your installation, the more material you'll require to finish off the build. This will naturally result in a higher overall price tag for the construction and installation. Keeping your height requirements in mind is an important part of the planning phase for any new built-in shelving construction project.

Typical built-in shelving designs

Homeowners often rave over the stylistic feel of a built-in shelving unit. These features can make a room feel more luxurious and add a sense of intimate curation to the environment. Following in the style of a few well-loved design options is a great way to add this decorative element to your home with ease.

The bookshelf

Reading is a common pastime in all corners of the world, and Statista reports that Americans prefer to read physical print copies even with the ease of access that digital media can provide. As a result, U.S. homeowners often collect a substantial and growing library of book titles in their homes over the years.

Books are an integral part of life through the childhood years, and they maintain a central feature for many adults, even serving in other decorative roles in the homes of avid readers (via Home Made Lovely). Prominently featuring some of your favorite books while building in enough storage space for the rest of your collection is a great way to make your love of reading a central theme in the home while placing your bookshelves flush against the wall to ensure maximum comfort in your favorite reading space, or wherever you choose to place the bookshelves.

The memorabilia or decoration accent

HomeLight reports that built-in shelves are the perfect way to display memorabilia, decorations, and other decorative elements in your home. Rather than placing mementos on counters, tables, and other spaces that will add to an overall sense of clutter in the home, a built-in shelf can change the way your environment rests while adding a tasteful wall display that prominently features the things you care about without littering them all about the room.

The entertainment room wall

Brooklyn Based reports that a standard wall unit that can be found in a modern home is often 9 feet by 8 feet, and is used as an accent wall to complement the television and surrounding entertainment additions.

With drawers added to the space beneath the television, homeowners are able to incorporate a smattering of mementos and decorations alongside staple features of the entertainment space: CDs or records that form a music library collection, video games, and more. Adding built-in shelving space to an entertainment center is the perfect way to tie the area together thematically and provide a classy touch to the high-tech arena that your television and tertiary plug-ins create.

The liquor cabinet

Building a classic liquor cabinet is often a part of expanding the customizations in the home. Home bars require a number of core basics (via The New York Times), and in most instances, the bottles you'll add to the collection easily double as a decorative piece in the home. This is a simple function of nearly any bottle's brilliant color gradient, inventive glass design, and unique label that's crafted to catch the eye.

Placing your alcohol collection in a prominent space that makes use of each bottle as a part of the décor itself can be an excellent choice for a homeowner that loves to entertain. A built-in shelving space along a wall behind your home bar or near the kitchen or dining table can serve this purpose admirably.

Why you need built-in shelving in your home

Built-in shelving offers immense versatility to a homeowner. Adding this feature to your property can amplify the style of a room while also providing a customization element that fits precisely into your home's needs as a display or storage solution.

Improve your organization

One of the easiest points of focus to home in on when considering a built-in storage solution is the organizational benefit that the new addition provides. A built-in shelving unit is a custom-designed organizational tool that can elevate the storage and display potential that your home enjoys. Whether you're crafting this addition on your own or with the help of a professional carpenter, working to incorporate shelving that supports your unique requirements is the best way to gain both a beautifying element in the property and improve the organization of your belongings immensely.

Happy Starts at Home reports that built-in additions can make use of any sort of storage facilities that best serve your needs, including a bench that incorporates a piano-hinge opening for intuitive under-seat storage (for a shelving addition that will frame a window or painting, perhaps).

Prominently feature your decorations

HomeLight suggests that a big no-no for decorating any home is the use of counter or table space for pictures, knick-knacks from travel, or other mementos. Finding a permanent place for these decorative features that removes them from the tabletop space you need for daily activity and routine life is a must for any homeowner looking to amplify their home's style and utility at the same time.

A built-in shelf provides the perfect opportunity to create a wall in any room that's accented by decorations and other elements that perfectly encapsulate your unique style and vision.

Benefits of a built-in shelf

Built-in shelves are a great addition that can add much-needed space to a room while providing organizational structure and a taste of luxury. A built-in shelf is a winner in any home.

A built-in shelf can eliminate bulky storage solutions, freeing up space in the room

One great feature of a built-in shelf is the depth that it requires to provide the same storage utility as a prefabricated option. Prefab shelves are typically deeper than custom pieces because they will have to support their own weight and stability — whereas a built-in unit is anchored in place to provide this structure (via Fixr). Likewise, many prefab shelves are crafted in an effort to enhance utility in a wider array of environments, leading to a larger footprint overall.

A customized, built-in shelving unit is crafted with your precise interior dimensions and storage needs in mind. This makes the shelf a perfect representation of the dimensional proportions and requirements of any room in your home, creating the ultimate blend of functionality and format that offers luxurious storage without added bulk.

Built-in shelves offer the ability to tastefully frame a noteworthy window view

Forbes recommends this type of shelving option as a frame for a window that you love to peer out of throughout the day. You may have a wonderful view of a park or the city just outside the window of your home office or living room, and a customized shelving unit can help turn this image into a living picture.

A shelf that includes a bench can act as the ultimate reading nook, or provide a place of relaxation that's excellent for an after-work drink with your partner. Placing a built-in shelf against a wall with a window creates a wonderfully complex decorative element that never stops showing off.