Why an estimate?

For a small business such as myself providing a service rather than a product such as shops do can highlight the problem of pricing potential projects.

Pricing a job can be a thankless task and time consuming as well. Not only is there the travel time to and from your house to look at the job but also telephone calls to suppliers to obtain prices of materials, catalogues to thumb through or internet searches to be made for the more obscure items.

Then there is the calculation of costs of not only materials but consumables, then how long the job may take from start to finish either by number of hours for small jobs to number of days for larger projects.

Finally, I arrive at a price for the work which is then communicated to you usually by email but still often by 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 indeed by prodding with a penknife or as in the case of a project in 2018 glass breaking as it is removed.

In the year ending 2017 I charged 97% of customers the amount I estimated

In the year ending 2018 I charged 98% of customers the amount I estimated

In the year ending 2019 I charged 95% of customers the amount I estimated

In the year ending 2020 I charged 97% of customers the amount I estimated


A QUOTE is 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 change the amount/type of work.

An ESTIMATE is an estimated cost for the job. The schedule of work will be outlined in my correspondence. Extra costs can be unforeseen works required to complete the work to the schedule agreed. This can include additional time to complete regardless of no additional materials or consumables.

Example 1. I was asked to hang two doors. Pretty straight forward I have hung 1000s of doors. The customer needed a price for labour only as they had the doors and door furniture. The whole process was conducted over the phone and by email. I estimated 2.5 hours labour and booked the job in.

On arrival I discovered that the opening was 75mm below a standard opening height and as the doors were hollow, I had to reduce their height machine out fillets and glue these into place. Also, the old hinges were held to the frame by 50mm screws, and the holes left had to be plugged.

So, what transpired was a 2.5hour job taking 4 hours.

Example 2. I was asked to do a number of small jobs around a home. 1 day’s labour plus some materials. One of the jobs was a creaking top stair tread which usually means machining out blocks that are glued into place, it became apparent on closer inspection that I only needed to re-glue the wedges back in as these had become un-stuck.

This saved 3 hours labour which I passed onto the customer who was very happy when I presented the invoice for payment. She mentioned this in feedback given to checkatrade.

I could go on, but I hope you get the picture. Estimates can work both ways you may end up with a final bill that is less than anticipated or if you are one of the 3-4% a final bill that is more. There is a 96.5% chance you will be charged the amount estimated.

Please be assured I would never present a bill for payment that was significantly more than my estimate unless some serious extra work was found and then I am obliged to forewarn you before I undertake that work.

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