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A Tradesman's guide to paperwork Estimates vs Quotes

What is the difference? And does it really matter anyway? Well, yes actually it does, but we'll come to that later… First, let's imagine a simple scenario: you've been asked to skim an average size bedroom. How different would the estimate for this be, compared to a quote?


Key facts:

  • A guestimate of price;
  • Done before or during a site visit;
  • Informal & loose;
  • Can't be used as a legal standpoint for price
Hand drawn estimate
  1. If you provide an approximate price via telephone for the skimming you would cover yourself for any hidden extras that you may not know about when providing the price.
  2. You should also give examples of possible increases in workload and how this may affect the price.
  3. You would also be doing this if you were viewing the property but can't gauge the extent of work due to, for example, wall paper that needs to be removed before the work takes place. This will again cover you for any further work that may need to be executed.


Key facts:

  • An exact price for a job;
  • Done after a site visit;
  • Presented formally, like a contract;
  • Can be used as a legal standpoint for price
Hand drawn quote
  1. If you are pricing the same sized room up to receive a skim over but have been round and viewed the work and established exactly the level of work needed and the materials that would be used then you should submit the cost as a quotation.
  2. This would be an almost absolute price that wouldn't deviate unless there are circumstances out of your control or the customer changes the job.
  3. It gives the customer peace of mind in knowing the end cost before any work has started.


So now you know the difference, here are some tips for when you're giving out an estimate to customers:

  1. Make sure you're customer knows that they're getting an estimate and not a quote!
  2. If you're giving an estimate written down make sure you make a distinction somewhere on your estimate that it's not a quote, and therefore the final price could and probably would change.
  3. Think about making a set pricing structure for each of the elements of your job, so your estimates can be consistant.
  1. Another nice touch that works for gaining repeat work or recommendations is lower the price that was provided as an estimate if the work itself does come out less than expected.
  2. Remember estimates can often be the first thing that your customers want to know about and see. So make them look professional and you'll be winning the work in no time.

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