A quote is a promise from a contractor to do the work at a fixed price. Don’t rely on a verbal quote – get it in writing, as this will be useful before, during and after completion.

Some contractors charge for quotes – ask about this first, in any case quote should be free without hidden cost to you.

Try to get written quotes from at least 3 different contractors before you decide on one. Comparing quotes will help you decide if you’re getting a fair price. Some contractors quote could high/low for various reasons but don’t be shy to ask any question so you don’t end up with the wrong one.

After you say yes to a quote, it’s a binding agreement between you and the contractor, whether it’s written down or not. But having it in writing means you can check what you agreed and prove it if there’s a dispute later.

“Make sure you get a quote, not an estimate. A quote is a fixed price and it should also outline exactly what you’re getting so you’ll have an idea how much it cost. An estimate is just a rough guess, so you could end up paying more or less and compromise on quality”.

The contractor can’t charge you more than the price on their quote unless:

  • you ask for extra work that’s not included in the quote
  • they let you know they have to do extra work and you agree to pay more for it
  • they made a genuine mistake when writing down or calculating the price – they have the legal right to charge you what it should have been

“Be wary if a contractor won’t put a quote in writing. It’s a sign they could be unreliable.

Also be cautious if their price is a lot lower than other quotes you get. It could mean they don’t have the right skills or experience, or they’re not being honest. It could also mean they’re not quoting for exactly the same work (this is where you ask questions)”.

What a standard quote should include

Be very clear about the work you want done – this will help you get the most accurate price and prevent misunderstandings later.

A quote should include:

  • a fixed total price – not a daily rate
  • a breakdown of all the work to be done and the materials needed
  • separate costs for each material and part of the work
  • how long the price is valid for
  • if the price includes VAT
  • when the price can go up, eg only if you agree to extra work

If you get a daily rate instead of a fixed total price there’s a risk the contractor could string out the work to get more money. Avoid this by getting them to put in writing:

  • how many days the work will take
  • how many hours of work counts as a day
  • when they need your go-ahead to work more days

Before saying yes to a quote, you should check the contractor has the correct insurance in place and try to get a written contract.

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