Should customers pay for a builders estimate?
Historically in the UK construction industry, either commercial or domestic, estimates for construction work have been provided for free, why is that when there is so much work involved in estimating?
Obviously, we believe in estimating being a paid service, or we’d be out of a job! Click here to see how you can work with us.
But below we will look at the advantages that clients would receive if they did pay for estimates, rather than only obtaining “free” estimates.
- Compensation for Time and Expertise: Preparing accurate and detailed estimates requires considerable time and expertise. Builders often invest significant effort in analysing project requirements, calculating material and labour costs, and assessing potential risks. Charging clients for estimates would allow contractors to receive fair compensation for their time and experience.
- Quality of Estimates: When contractors are paid for preparing estimates, they are more likely to allocate additional time and resources to create thorough and accurate assessments. They are likely to work closely with you to ensure that they are including your requirements and share your vision for the project This can lead to higher quality estimates with fewer errors and omissions, resulting in more reliable project planning for both the contractor and the client.
- “Skin in the game”, from a contractors perspective if a client is willing to pay for their estimate then they know they are serious and have offered a level of commitment to the project, as a client you need to remember that it not just you selecting a contractor for your project, contractors are also selecting clients they want to work with, so having a level of commitment from the outset helps to form a relationship.
- Value, when something is offered for free then generally people do not value it, if a fee was charged by a contractor, then both parties would have a mutual interest in it, both the client who has invested money in obtaining in the estimate, and the builder who is providing this as a paid service.
- Enhanced Client-Contractor Relationship: By charging for estimates, contractors can establish a more transparent and professional relationship with their clients. Clients would recognize the value and effort put into the estimating process, leading to a greater appreciation for the contractor’s expertise and a more mutually respectful collaboration.
- Filtering Serious Inquiries: as the old saying goes, “ a good builder is a busy builder” good building contractors often receive a high volume of enquires for building projects, some of which may come from clients who are not genuinely interested in pursuing the project. Charging a fee for estimates can act as a deterrent for casual inquiries, ensuring that contractors primarily engage with serious potential clients who are committed to moving forward with the project.
- Cost Recovery: In certain cases, contractors may incur significant expenses in preparing estimates, such as hiring external consultants. Charging for estimates allows contractors to recover some of these costs, ensuring that they can continue to provide high-quality estimating services without facing financial strain.
- Increased Efficiency: When contractors receive payment for their estimating services, they are more likely to prioritise and expedite the estimation process. This can result in
faster turnaround times for clients, allowing them to make timely decisions and proceed with their projects without unnecessary delays.
In conclusion we understand that offering free estimates for smaller maintenance projects or repairs should be offered free of charge, but for larger projects like extensions, loft conversions and new-build homes there can be a significant amount of work carried out in preparing an accurate estimate, there’s an excellent article regarding this from the Federation of Master Builders FMB, where one building company has reported success in introducing a fee for providing estimates, and sums this up with an ideal quote “ it sorts the wheat from the chaff”.
We feel that although a lot of clients maybe put off from using contractors that charge for estimates, as the majority don’t, but we feel that there are advantages that can far outweigh the cost in engaging with a contractor with the additional level of commitment this would, and most builders would refund the cost if they secured the project.
The other main advantage of charging a fee for estimates is that the builder can bring in an external estimator knowing that the some of this cost is shared by the client, this ensures that the costs you receive for your project have a greater level of detail and accuracy. If you would like you see how we can assist with this, please contact us for further information.