Once you have decided to get some building work done on your property, the first step is to get quotes from builders for comparison, but how do you decide which one to go with and what should you be looking for in a quote?

1. Understand the difference between ‘estimates’ and ‘quotes’

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Detailed quotes are not the same as estimates.

There is a big difference between an estimate and a detailed quote, which should always be written rather than verbal.

An estimate is an educated guess of what it will cost to complete a project and doesn’t cover the finer details of a job. It is non-binding, and the final cost of a project can be significantly higher.

A quote will outline all aspects of a project in detail and is an agreed price for the job, providing the specification doesn’t change. The advantage of opting for a quote over an estimate is that it gives a much more accurate breakdown of the project and the cost.

Providing as much detail as you can about your project will ensure that the quote is as accurate as possible. Be clear about what you expect and what you are looking for, clarify who will be responsible for what, anticipated timescales, planning permission details, any issues, etc.

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2. Get detailed drawings

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Detailed plans make for more accurate quotes.

Detailed plans / drawings for your project including calculations and measurements will be required if you are looking for a comprehensive quote as a builder will need these details to plan and cost your project. You can pay an architect or house designer to produce drawings.

Some Master Builder companies also offer design and build services and can create plans for you, so it is worth assessing how you want to approach your project. Opting for a design and build service may help you to avoid the issue of paying for architectural drawings that you may not be able to afford to build.

Make sure you present the same details to each builder you contact for a quote to ensure you can compare quotes on a like-for-like basis.

3. Detailed quotes take time to produce

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Detailed quotes take time and effort to produce.

It’s important to develop a good relationship with your builder and understanding that it takes time to do things properly can help you to start off on the right foot.

A detailed and thorough quote can’t be thrown together and covered in a text message or three-line email. You need to allow adequate time for the builder to plan and price your project, which can take a few weeks to produce.

Ultimately, a more detailed quote will help you to better understand the requirements for your project and it reduces the risk of unforeseen costs. 

You should also be aware that some builders may charge for a detailed quote to reflect the time and effort that goes into the process.

4. Don’t request too many quotes

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Too many quotes can be counterproductive.

While it is wise to get more than one quote (three is recommended), requesting any more than three to four can be counter-productive and not the best use of anyone’s time.

Given the time commitment involved in preparing a detailed quote, some builders may be wary of quoting for tenders where there are more than four companies in the running. Make sure you streamline your shortlist and do your research before approaching companies for a quote.

5. Don’t just look at the bottom line

Price is important and is no doubt a deciding factor for many people looking to hire a builder.

It is therefore important to be upfront with your builder about your budget from the outset. There is no point in a builder quoting for a job if they know that they won’t be able to deliver it within your price bracket.

Quality builders should be able to speak to you about whether your budget is adequate for the type of work you are planning and the quality you are seeking.

While it can be tempting to focus on the bottom line when comparing quotes, be wary of just opting for the cheapest. Check to make sure that each quote covers everything you need and that there is a detailed breakdown of what is included, and importantly, what isn’t included in the price.

Beware of suspiciously low quotes. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

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Ready to make your choice?

Ready to make your choice?

Our guide on how to choose a builder takes you through everything you need to know about finding a builder or tradesperson, plus how to get good quotes, tips on your contract, and what are fair and reasonable payment terms.

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