Should a builder charge for producing a building quote? 

Time is money. Should you the builder charge for producing the customer quote or should you provide it free of charge? This is a question often asked at Federation of Masterbuilder (FMB) panel events, and from our own EstimatorXpress software users.

Well there is no hard and fast rule. Some builders think this is very risky because it will put customers off before they’ve even got a foot in the door whilst others say they do charge because it sorts the wheat from the chaff client wise.

A free no obligation estimate is a popular message that is often seen on vans but I would say there is a big difference between an estimate and a detailed cost breakdown provided as a professional service.

Out of interest I checked what Citizens Advice says on the subject, from the customer perspective and they simply say ‘some contractors charge for quotes – ask about this first’.

Quote scenarios

  • Smaller renovation works you might charge say £50. It also doesn’t need to be massively cost prohibitive.
  • A larger self-build or small development site you might charge hundreds.
  • A property developer asks you to price up to build two homes on a small site for them. They would pay for the costs of a QS so why shouldn’t they pay you for the same?
  • A landlord is thinking about buying some properties for buy to let that he doesn’t own yet and he asks you to price the renovation up – that’s him buying your expertise.
  • Whereas a small renovation to someone’s kitchen – you might think doesn’t require a charge.

How to weigh up whether to charge for your quote…

  • A cursory walk about-cum-price indication is non chargeable but a detailed quotation and full cost breakdown is chargeable
  • How many builders is the customer asking to quote? If it’s 5 to 10 firms – it’s perhaps not worth your time without at least a nominal fee to cover your costs.
  • If they just want you to give an indication without visiting or discussing the plans with you I’d say again, it’s perhaps not worth your time.

Quality leads and quality service

  • Protect your time with high quality leads so profile them before you spend your precious time. Tell the client how you like to do business otherwise they’ll dictate to you how they want it done – in other words – everything free!
  • Furthermore before you do the estimate, tell your clients that you DON’T simply email them or post them the quote, that you’ll set up a meeting to run through the estimate with them, so they buy into YOU – that’s if you want the job…and they are serious about you doing the job!

Every builder is different and every project is too but I would say use your discretion and charge for a quote if you can tick off enough criteria.

I do need to plug our own software. The team is ready to talk through the quoting process using EstimatorXpress on 0117 916 7898. This award-winning estimating software is fed the latest material prices and doesn’t miss a single nail or brick in its calculations. You could argue that this level of detail, and a quote that looks very professional, has a value attached to it…?

Alternatively there’s our sister company HBXL Estimating Service which produces quotes for self-builders, builders, property developers and architects. And yes they do, of course, charge for the services of experienced, professional estimators using the same award-winning estimating software! You can call them on 0117 916 7894.