The difference between an estimate and a quote - City Lofts London

This short article explains the difference between a quote and an estimate.

It comes straight from a builder and was written in response to a lot of misleading information floating about within online forums and from Solicitors writing on behalf of the trade industry. So straight from the horses mouth…

Quote Vs Estimate

The essential difference is certainty on price.

In an estimate the price provided is not fixed and is subject to change. In a quotation the price is certain, and fully considered.

As a firm, we very rarely provide estimates because of the fact they are subject to change, and therefore pretty useless. Instead we will visit a new job, collect quality, in-depth data and in doing so, eliminate uncertainty from the situation. This allows the production of a full-on, priced-to-the-penny quotation.

The thoroughness of the initial site survey means that with a quote, we will invariably provide our customers with a very detailed schedule of work, detailing all the materials required to complete the job down to the last nail, and a stage-by-stage documented breakdown of how we will work.

Now sometimes it is simply not possible to collect the data we need based on a naked eye inspection. For example, it may be necessary to dig a trail pit to ascertain the depth of a foundation, or may need the local Planning Officer to confirm where a specific material must be used for a particular build. When this is the case, we will state in black and white what assumptions we are working on, and later (usually upon completion of an architectural survey) when the facts of the hitherto unknown item emerge, the price will be adjusted accordingly. If this is ever the case, customers will always know well in advance that if a price is adjusted, it will only ever be based on a pre-stated, specific assumption. So there are never any surprises.

So why do builders provide estimates instead of quotes?

A builder’s day is busy. Between being on site to plaster or lay bricks, they will also be rushing out to buy material from the builders merchants or trying to get the heating working before the customer’s kids get home from school. When visiting new jobs to price, taking out the time to write a fully-costed quotation can be pretty low on their agenda. That’s not to say it is right, it’s just the reality for a lot of builders unfortunately.

That is the reason that when a builder does come back to you with a ‘price’, it is usually an estimate on a piece of a4 (or a number over a text message!), and furthermore the reason that some builders won’t come back to you all with a price after having been to see the job.


But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing

This sounds counter-intuitive but receiving slapdash estimates from contractors (or not receiving them at all) is actually a blessing in disguise.

If a builder cannot organise the time to write up a fully considered proposal, what does that suggest about their ability to organise the work when the job starts? When they arrive to price up the job but you don’t see them taking notes, photos or measurements, just how accurate could that price actually be? And if the whole process of inviting contractors over to see your home and provide prices hasn’t filled you full of confidence, would you really trust them to build your dream family extension? As my Dad always said, your first impression usually endures as your last impression.

The real golden nugget to take away from this folks is that the process of getting prices isn’t about finding the cheapest bloke out there, but about taking the opportunity to filter out the professionals who work with passion and genuinely want to build you your dream home because that will show through the quality of the quotation they provide and ultimately through the quality of the craftsmanship they produce.

City Lofts London – award-winning builders

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