How to get an Estimate

How to Get an Estimate or Quotation

Getting a price for work around your house or you have employed a consultant to organize it seems like any easy thing to do, you call three people from the yellow pages, they come and look at the project, go away and come back with three prices and you pick the cheapest. No? No!

How do you know that they have all priced the same thing?

How do you know if they have included things that you expect them to?

You don’t and you won’t find out until the job is finished. A very bad position to be in. So follow this simple example below to help you save money and make sure that you get what you anticipate from a project.

It may sound tedious at the start but it is well worth it in the end.

I will use an example for new drapes in a house.

  • Define the rooms where you want the tracks for all windows, state that you require the supply of the track inclusive of all fittings, fixtures and installation.
  • Specify the lining to all drapes (state the type ie polycotton, thermal backed, blackout, bumph).
  • Ensure that you are specific with the fabric (name of product, style, design and colour inclusive of width and pattern repeat, coated on non coated).
  • State the extent of the drapes – ie to the floor, fall on the floor, 150mm below sill etc. Fullness, 100%, 150% what stack back you require.
  • Ensure that all extras are specified, or you won’t get them. Do you require tiebacks, hand drawn or cord drawn tracks, hold backs, valances, pelmets, cushions to match for your sofa.
  • State dates required and payment terms. Ie Hire purchase, cash on delivery, deposit required, credit card etc If you want them done in a hurry it usually costs more.

Curtains are a common item that we get estimates and quotations for when renovating our home.
Curtains are a common item that we get estimates or quotations for when renovating our home.

It does look like a lot for a small job, but as you can see there are a number of variables in this simple job. If you do not specify these items when you ask for your quote, then the prices you receive will greatly vary and you won’t know who has allowed for what. So, do it once and do it right the first time. Take the time to think about what you require, then you can compare the prices accurately.
Always request a full breakdown of the costs
This means that you can see how the contractor has arrived at their total cost. This is great if you need to look at saving money, you can prioritize where you spend your money. It is also very helpful if you have any questions with the invoice when the project is completed.
Always get an estimate or quote in writing
This is necessary as a quote or estimate is a form of contract. They generally have their terms and conditions of trade printed on them, if not you can request a copy of them. I recommend this. You want to protect yourself and make sure that you understand what are your responsibilities and what are theirs, especially if something goes wrong along the way, the contractor slips off his ladder and breaks your window, who pays? The fabric pattern is sewn upside down, who pays? It gets you thinking doesn’t it.
Always confirm everything in writing with the contractor
Once you have selected the successful quote or estimate and contractor, engage them in writing and let them know that if there are any items that may arise once the project has commenced, you are to be informed and a further quote given to you to accept before they continue work. This means that you are able to keep full financial control over the project. Beware – there are some contractors out there that quote very cheaply to get your work, then innocently find “extras” along the way to encrease the total value of the project. Do not stand for this.

Contractor’s Qualifications

Ensure the contractors are qualified and belong to a covering organisation. This lowers the risk of “rogues” and means that you have somewhere to go if you do strick problems with them.
You are now fully armed to go get your quotation or estimate.

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