Quote or estimate?

When is a quote not a quote?

When it’s an estimate.

It’s a simple question with a seemingly simple answer. But it’s a question and answer that causes lots of us problems every day as we get hit with a builder’s bill that bears no relation to the figures discussed when a job was initially priced. “How can a job that was only going to cost £1000 suddenly end up costing me three times that?” you might ask, but it happens every single day.

While the answer is often to do with a whole lot of work that was done in addition to the work originally discussed it’s also the case that sometimes costs spiral out of control due to poor communication between builder and client and due to a lack of understanding on the customer’s part that a simple request to ‘just move that radiator from that wall to that one please’ could involve all sorts of extra plastering and pipework and, more importantly, lots of extra money being added to the bill.
The problem and associated confusion usually goes back to the very beginning of the job where the builder thinks he is doing X work for Y money but the customer thinks he is getting A work for B money.

A recipe for disaster indeed, but one that can be rectified easily.

Regardless of how much you like the firm or the people carrying out work for you it is rarely good enough to rely on a shake of the hand these days. It makes much more sense that anyone getting work done of any significant value should enter into a contract with their builder before the work starts. And that contract should be in writing. It should detail the exact works being carried out, the materials being used and the cost of time and labour involved in the completion of the job.

There should also be a strict timescale agreed in this contract. There are standard contracts available on-line or you may want to contact a solicitor if the work you are having done is particularly expensive.

You need to agree what works are being done for you, and what needs to be agreed before extra works that were not in the original quote and will incur extra costs can be started.

If you don’t to this up front then what often happens is that a quick estimate of the job to be done is given after a cursory look around and you give the go-ahead for work. Then walls are stripped or plasterwork removed and extra work discovered that can add thousands on to your bill.

You need to make it clear that anything that is done in addition to the original contract needs to be agreed and added to the back page of the written contract. That way there can be no dispute over extra costs.

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