If you’re renovating your kitchen, built-in units can provide a sleek, seamless look. However, this customisable kitchen storage comes at a cost. With over 15 years of experience designing kitchens, I’m often asked – how much do built-in units cost for the average South African home?
In this guide, we’ll break down the typical price range for built-in kitchen units and factors that influence cost. Whether you’re budgeting for an upcoming remodel or researching pricing for a client, you’ll get insider insights on achieving the look of built-ins affordably.
Built-In Unit Cost Considerations
The cost of built-in kitchen units depends on:
- Materials used
- Appliances included
- Size and configuration
- Choice of counters
- Custom designs and finishes
- Geographic location
- Reputation of manufacturer/installer
Prices typically start at R800 per linear foot for basic built-in units with melamine finishes and stock configurations. Costs can surpass R2,000 per linear foot when you opt for premium materials like solid wood, high-end appliances, and custom details.
Here’s a breakdown of what impacts built-in kitchen unit costs:
- Melamine: Most affordable, starts at R800/linear foot
- Laminate: Middle ground, R1,000-R1,500/linear foot
- Solid wood: Most expensive, R1,600+/linear foot
- None: Saves substantially on cost
- Standard: Oven/hob adds R8,000-R15,000
- Premium: Upscale oven/hob adds R18,000+
- More linear feet equals higher cost
- Optimal use of space saves money
- Laminate: Most economical option
- Stone: Adds R600-R1000+/linear foot
- Concrete: Adds approx. R800+/linear foot
- Installation in Johannesburg or Cape Town costs more
- Smaller cities mean lower pricing
- Well-known brands charge a premium
- Smaller suppliers offer savings
With an understanding of these factors, you can make budget-friendly choices while still achieving a built-in look. For example, melamine units with laminate counters can create a streamlined design for just R1,800-R2,200 per linear foot.
Next, let’s look at estimated price ranges for complete built-in kitchens.
Typical Pricing for Full Built-In Kitchens in South Africa
The total cost of your built-in kitchen depends heavily on size and configuration. Here are sample price ranges:
Compact Kitchen (5 linear feet of units)
- Entry level: R8,000 – R12,000
- Mid range: R15,000 – R20,000
- High end: R25,000+
This compact U-shaped kitchen would likely have a sink, prep space, oven, hob, fridge, and storage built-ins. You can achieve strong value with melamine and laminate.
Medium Kitchen (10 linear feet of units)
- Entry level: R16,000 – R24,000
- Mid range: R30,000 – R40,000
- High end: R50,000+
This L-shaped kitchen can accommodate more storage, appliances, and prep space. Opt for melamine with a stone or concrete island for affordable quality.
Large Kitchen (15+ linear feet of units)
- Entry level: R24,000 – R36,000
- Mid range: R45,000 – R60,000
- High end: R75,000+
With extensive built-ins occupying multiple walls, higher costs quickly accumulate. Look for sales on appliances and strategic laminate use to save.
In my experience designing Cape Town and Johannesburg kitchens, these price ranges reflect current real-world costs. Built-in units allow incredible customization, from melamine to exotic imported woods. Focus your budget on high-impact splurges like stone counters.
Cost-Saving Tips for Built-In Kitchens in South Africa
If your budget is limited, here are my top tips for keeping built-in kitchen costs under control:
- Use melamine units – Optimal value, especially for cabinet interiors hidden behind doors
- Strategically incorporate laminate – Use laminate for visible surfaces to mimic pricier wood
- Size it right – Avoid wasted space by designing an efficient, compact footprint
- Install yourself – DIY installation saves on labor costs if you’re handy
- Choose economical counters – Laminate counters cost 50-75% less than stone
- Buy appliances on sale – Be patient and pounce on discounts for oven, hob, etc.
- Work with smaller suppliers – Boutique shops offer lower rates than big brands
- Avoid heavily customized details – Unique sizes and finishes add cost quickly
With careful planning and budget-conscious choices, you can design a stunning built-in kitchen for R25,000-R40,000. Compromise on finishes, not quality.
Are Built-In Units Worth the Cost?
Built-in kitchen units come at a premium cost compared to free-standing cabinetry. Are they worth investing in?
The pros of choosing built-in units include:
- Streamlined, seamless aesthetic
- Efficient use of space
- Customized to your exact design
- Tailored functionality
- Sleek, minimalist look
However, the cons to weigh include:
- Higher upfront cost
- Committing to permanent layout
- Difficult to change or remove later
- Limitations for DIY installation
- Tradespeople familiarity required
Built-in units make the most sense for:
- Long-term homeowners planning 10+ years occupancy
- Design enthusiasts seeking a custom, bespoke kitchen
- Those prioritizing a streamlined, minimalist aesthetic
- Homeowners who value optimized kitchen workflow
Casual cooks happy with the layout of their existing kitchen may achieve better value by simply replacing cabinets. But for those dreaming of a high-end bespoke kitchen, built-in units can provide lasting satisfaction that justifies the investment over decades of use.
The cost to install built-in kitchen units in South Africa starts around R800/linear foot on the low end, ranging up to R2,000+/linear foot for premium materials and custom designs. With careful planning and budgeting, built-in units can provide superb value. Focus your investment on the details that matter most, like quality counters.
If you’re embarking on a built-in kitchen project, I hope these real-world pricing insights provide clarity for setting your budget. With some creativity, built-in units can be accessible at any budget level. The result is a kitchen customized to your needs with a seamless, integrated aesthetic.
Given proper care and maintenance, your built-in kitchen in South Africa will function beautifully for decades, outlasting trends and providing daily enjoyment.
For the right homeowner, investing in quality built-ins is a smart long-term decision. With strategic choices guided by your budget, your dream kitchen is within reach!