Estimate verses Quotes

For a small business such as myself providing a service rather than a product such as shops do highlights the problem of pricing potential work.
Pricing a job can be a thankless time consuming task. Not only is there the travel time to and from your house to look at the job there are also telephone calls to suppliers to obtain prices of materials, catalogues to thumb through , web searches for the more obscure items such as hard to find ironmongery, the calculation of costs of not only materials but consumables, then how long the whole job from start to finish will take that’s the labour costs either by hours for small works or days for larger projects – This bit comes with experience.
Finally I arrive at a price for the work this is then communicated to you usually in the form of an email or in a letter that has to be typed and posted.
Normally I am pretty well on the mark when it comes to pricing but the unforeseen can happen.
Usually its additional rot found which would not be detected by a visual inspection or as in the case of a project undertaken in 2018 glass breaking as it is removed.
In the year ending 2017 I charged what I estimated as the overall price or less for 97% of all work carried out.
In the year ending 2018 I charged what I estimated as the overall price or less for 98% of all work carried out.
In the year ending 2019 I charged what I estimated as the overall price or less for 95% of all work carried out.
In my terms and conditions I am obliged by law to inform you at the point I become aware if the estimated cost for a given project exceeds my estimate, this does not often happen.


A QUOTE is a an exact price for a job. As such it cannot be changed once it has been accepted by you the customer unless you the customer changes the amount/type of work or I discover something completely outside of the scope of what was agreed.
AN ESTIMATE is an estimated cost for a job. The schedule of work to be carried out will be outlined in my correspondence. Extra costs can be unforeseen extra work required to complete the work to the schedule agreed. This can also include additional time to complete a job regardless of no additional materials or consumables required.

EXAMPLE 1. In 2019 I was asked to hang two internal doors. A reasonably straight forward job. The customer needed a price and a lead time so they could book the time off work. The whole process was conducted over the phone and by email -they had the new doors and door furniture and just needed them fitted. I estimated that this would take 2 maybe 2 1/2 hours max so priced it accordingly. Confirmation was given and I turned up to do the work at the agreed time.
What should have been a straight forward job I have hung 1000s of doors over many years turned out to be somewhat different. The doors which were hollow had to be reduced in height by 3″ which meant that replacement inserts needed to be machined and glued in. The hinges for the old door were held in by 2″ screws and plastic wall plugs on the door frame so the holes needed to be reamed out and wooden plugs inserted. The door frames themselves were all over the place narrower at the bottom and the door stops had to be removed and refitted.
So what transpired was a 2-2 1/2 hr job turned out to be nearer 4 hrs + a small amount of consumables.

EXAMPLE 2. I was asked to replace a rotten cill to a 1930s property. Normally this entails removing the external component of the cill right up to the exterior of the frame, its then a case of machining a replacement using the old removed cill as a template ending up with an exact copy of the original. On my initial visit I prodded around the cill and bottom half of the frame with a penknife to establish how far the rot had travelled it appeared that only the exterior component of the cill needed replacing.
A mornings work plus materials. On cutting out the cill it became apparent that the rot was far more extensive and the whole cill underneath the frame had perished. This discovery could not take place until the exterior component of the cill had been removed. It entailed removing the interior window cill before I could carefully remove the exterior cill in order to complete the job. This whole process took 1.5 days to complete.
Although an extreme example it is the potential outcome undertaking this type of work. I am pleased to say this dose not happen very often.

EXAMPLE 3. I was asked to carry out a number of small jobs by a customer who presented me with a lengthy to do list. Having been shown what needed doing I estimated 

1 full days labour and a small material cost. One of the jobs on that list was a creaking stair tread at the top of the staircase. This usually entails gluing wooden blocks under the stairs ,there are examples of this under the heading stairs on the site map. On the day I decided to tackle this one first it then became apparent that blocks were not required – the wedges that pin the treads in place had not been glued into place during construction. Therefore all I had to do was remove these adhesive and tap them back in.

This saved labour time( 2hours) and material costs. I passed this saving on to the customer who was very pleased when the invoice was presented for payment. She mentioned this in feedback given to checkatrade.    

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