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What’s wiser: a quote or an estimate?

Michiel 11 February 2020

We keep Customers and experts out of trouble

Our handyman service helps Customers find a reliable expert fast. That is hard: we estimate that 40-50% of home repair jobs involve serious misunderstandings, shoddy or undeclared work and/or outright fraud. MrFix will post tips for Customers and experts to avoid the worst mistakes and problems: this is the first.
 

Quote vs Estimate

 
Customers ask us every day for quotes while they mean estimates and vice versa. The difference is simple: a good expert always estimates how much time the job will cost him and therefore also has an estimate of the labour costs if the hourly rate is clear. He can (but rarely does) share this estimate with the Customer: “The job will cost me ~X hours so it will cost you ~€Y in labour”. If the Customer prefers, the expert can also quote a fixed price: “I ask €Z for the job, no matter how many hours it costs me”. Z is usually larger than Y, because the expert assumes the risk of the job taking longer than he estimated.
 

So what is wiser to request: an estimate or a quote?

 
That depends:

  • A quote usually requires an inspection visit, which costs you time and often money too. If you would like the expert to advise you and/or measure, it is usually better to ask for an inspection & quote.
  • A quote is ideal if the job is big and well defined, such as “paint 350m2 of smooth walls over with roller – 1 coat, RAL 9010”. And if it is that clear you can even avoid the inspection
  • An estimate is better if the job is relatively small and hard to define / estimate, such as “Stop bad smell in bathroom”. Without more information you can’t even get a serious estimate for such jobs
  • If you know and trust the expert (or the handyman service) then an estimate should suffice

 
MrFix has advised Customers for years to follow a simple rule of thumb: for jobs of less than a day’s work / ~€500 ask for an estimate. For bigger jobs a quote is usually the wiser option, even though that often requires an inspection visit.