Why charging for a quote is not only smart but essential

If you think that a free quote is “free”, you’re wrong.

The thing is a free quote is not worth the paper it’s written on.

In fact, a blank piece of paper is worth as much as a free quote.

Why is that?

Professional builders charge for their time and that includes the preparation of quotes. If you’re offered a free quote you are more than likely dealing with an amateur who just wants your business so they offer a “free” service that will always end up costing you more in the long run.

The fallacy of free quotes.

In my experience, the types of builders who provide free quotes are also the ones that run a “one-size-fits-all” business.

Their “quotes” involve little more than gross generalisations of what the project may – and usually will not – cost. They utilise an overworked estimator who churns out hundreds of cookie-cutter estimates every year. You might think your project is unique, but these cowboys think they’re all the same. The free quotes on offer provide little more than generalised rates based on square meterage of construction so that it seems like a competitive price.

What follows a free quote is plenty of promises to ensure that you say “yes” and not “no” to them.

Then what do you think happens?

Well, it’s inevitable that once you’ve signed on the dotted line that you’re faced with a plethora of variations, which all cost money of course, as well as delays and disputes during construction – again these all cost you money you probably haven’t budgeted for.
At the end of the day, even if your project is completely adequately, it’s highly unlikely that your free quote resembles anything close to what you ended up paying for the build. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the cost of litigation if such a turn of events comes to pass.

The value of paying for a quote.

Contrary to the scenario I outlined above, a professional builder will charge you to prepare a quote. They do that because they are professionals and will spend the required amount of time to understand your project and to price it correctly.

Whether you’re a home builder or a small property developer, to improve your chances of a successful outcome, you must work with someone who is prepared to put in the time and effort to provide you with a detailed quote. You need someone who is going to sit down with you, compile the bill of quantities, shop out the costings and provide you with an accurate quote.

Preparing a detailed quote takes time and it’s only fair and reasonable that a professional would charge for its creation. Professional builders do not provide free quotes in an attempt to win your business.

Instead they charge a fee for their service.

Would you work for free if you had spent hours preparing a quote which includes pricing the cost of subcontractors as well as fixtures and fittings?

No, of course you wouldn’t, Unfortunately, the prevalence of “free” quotes means that some consumers expect this as the norm.

But it’s not.

The norm is for a fee to be charged to provide an accurate quote for your project, which is small change compared to costly variations, delays or litigation. I suppose, at the end of the day, it comes down to whether you want to pay a small fee up front or a very large “learning fee” at the end.


Written by Kurt Hegetschweiler