It costs $10,000 on average to install a dumbwaiter, or typically $8,000 to $12,000.
It can cost as little as $4,000 and as much as $20,000 to install a dumbwaiter.
Manual dumbwaiters cost significantly less than electric versions.
The cost of labor runs from about $3,250 to $6,000 of the final cost.
You can cut costs by reducing the size of the dumbwaiter, choosing a manual model, and placing it strategically.
A dumbwaiter is not your typical household convenience, but when you install one, you’ll never want to go back. This miniature elevator can take food from the kitchen to the upstairs, and bring the dirty dishes back down. Or, it can take laundry from the bedrooms straight to the laundry room.
“When planning the location of a dumbwaiter, focus on where you will use it most,” says Bob Tschudi, Angi Expert Review Board member and general contractor in Raleigh, NC. “For example, people who travel frequently would benefit from a dumbwaiter that transported luggage from an upper floor to the garage.”
If you want to install a dumbwaiter in your home, expect to pay $10,000 on average for installation, with a typical range of $8,000 to $12,000. However, it can cost you as little as $4,000 if you choose a small, low-cost model, or as much as $20,000 if you want to install a high-end electric model.
Average Cost to Install a Dumbwaiter
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How Much Does It Cost to Install a Dumbwaiter by Type?
Manual dumbwaiters are raised and lowered by pulling a rope, and therefore they aren't as expensive as dumbwaiters that require a motor. A manual dumbwaiter costs $3,000 to $8,000 to install. They also don't require as much maintenance as electric models.
Electric dumbwaiters are more expensive (they can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000), but they're easier to operate. All you have to do is press a button and the dumbwaiter moves up or down. Not only do they save you effort, but they can also move heavier items.
Dumbwaiter Installation Cost Breakdown
The cost of installing a dumbwaiter breaks down into three basic categories: the cost of the dumbwaiter itself, the cost of installing a shaft for the dumbwaiter, and the cost of installing the dumbwaiter into the shaft.
By itself, the dumbwaiter will cost you between $2,000 and $7,000, depending on the brand, model, and size you choose.
Installation of a new shaft runs about $2,500 to $3,500. This includes rerouting electrical lines, installing the shaft, installing an access door, and painting and finishing both the area and the dumbwaiter.
“When looking for a place to install the shaft, you must determine whether it intersects other systems, such as electrical, plumbing or HVAC ducts,” Tschudi says. “If you are cutting into any wall or floor, consult a structural engineer, who will provide a written report on what you need to do to maintain the structural integrity of your house.”
It costs between $750 and $2,500 to install a dumbwaiter into a shaft once the shaft is complete. This involves fitting the dumbwaiter into the shaft and hooking it up to the wiring.
Cost to Install a Dumbwaiter Yourself
Labor for installation runs from $3,250 to $6,000 for this project. So, if you tackle this project yourself, you'd end up paying between $2,000 and $7,000, plus a little extra for miscellaneous costs (think: plywood and screws).
If you have some experience with construction projects, you could probably handle this on your own. But know: It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a bit of an unusual project. You might want to consider having a professional do the work anyway.
Contact a home remodeling contractor near you to see if they do this type of work and if they can give you a quote.
Tips to Reduce the Cost of Installing a Dumbwaiter
There are a few things you can do to lower the cost of a dumbwaiter installation—besides doing the work yourself.
The larger the dumbwaiter, the more you’ll pay. For example, a unit measuring 30-by-36-by-48 inches will cost between $18,000 and $20,000. A much smaller model (at 14-by-14-by-20 inches) costs only $3,000 to $7,500 on average.
Manual vs. Electric
Electric dumbwaiters are more convenient, but manual dumbwaiters are easy to use, too, and they're a lot less expensive. You could save $7,000 to $12,000 simply by downgrading to a manual dumbwaiter.
Place the Dumbwaiter Strategically
To lower labor costs, choose a location for the dumbwaiter that isn't too far away from necessary electrical connections. Bonus points if it’s easy for a contractor to access. Contact a professional to do a consultation first and they might be able to recommend a good location for the dumbwaiter.
Frequently Asked Questions
It usually only takes one day for a professional to install a dumbwaiter. However, it could take two days or more if the shaft needs to be installed in an area that is difficult to access.
The size of a dumbwaiter typically ranges from 14-by-14-by-20 inches to 36-by-36-by-48 inches, and they can lift anywhere from 100 to 750 pounds.
It is called a dumbwaiter because it was originally used in large houses with a staff of servants to move food from the kitchen downstairs to the dining room upstairs. As a result, it was essentially an extra silent waiter.