Most purchasers will hopefully be sensible enough to obtain a price for goods or services before making any kind of financial investment.

However, it is very easy to assume that a quote and an estimate are the exact same thing. It’s a common misconception. However, due to our experience within the home improvements industry, we are well-positioned to advise you of the key differences.

Let’s take an example from within our area of expertise.

You want to have a new extension installed onto the back of your home, to extend your living space and increase the value of your property. Subject to you being happy with the workmanship, quality of materials and availability of installers, you are looking to pay a deposit and get the ball rolling on the works as soon as possible.

You approach the project with an open mind and decide to research companies in the local area. You create a shortlist and invite them into your home to discuss your requirements and pricing.

Realistic are one of the companies you ask to come over for a no-obligation consultation. We listen to your requirements thoroughly and provide you with a written quotation. The project is quoted at £30,000. Should you choose to go ahead, we are then legally bound to supply the goods, services and labour as detailed at this price. The quote is completely transparent and includes everything you should be expecting.

All good quotations should detail the work that is going to be undertaken in full, the materials that will be used, terms of payments, and installation times. As a consumer, this protects you against the company charging additional money during the installation. For example, if they have underestimated the required building works.

You also invite another company to your home, and they provide you with estimate that sounds too good to be true; everything all in for £20,000. This is a great saving, of course. Who wouldn’t want to shave £10,000 off their bill? You proceed with your order, full of excitement, thinking you’ve secured an absolute bargain.

Sadly, this is where you can start to come unstuck. An estimate is essentially an educated guess. It’s usually based on experience, but it isn’t a firm offer, nor legally binding. An estimate means that your final bill could end up being far higher than you anticipated. You should never proceed with a large-scale home improvements project with an estimate forming the foundations of your financial commitments. You are quite within your rights to ask the company to turn an estimate into a written quote. If a company or contractor is unwilling to be held accountable for their work by committing to a price, you could be on very dodgy ground.

Please protect yourself from the cowboys. Always get a written quote to protect you. This advice extends to all contractors that you employ, including anyone undertaking building work, home extensions, plumbers, electricians, and kitchen/bathroom installers.