Why it's important to get a written quote, not a phone or email estimate!
A quote is a promise from the contractor to do the work at a fixed price. Don’t rely on a verbal quote - get it in writing.
After you say yes to a quote, it’s a binding agreement between you and the contractor, whether it’s written down or not. But having it in writing means you can check what you agreed and prove it if there’s a dispute later.
Make sure you get a quote, not an estimate. A quote is a fixed price, so you'll know what you’re getting and how much it will cost. An estimate is just a rough guess, so you could end up paying more.
The contractor can’t charge you more than the price on their quote unless:
• you ask for extra work that’s not included in the quote
• they let you know they have to do extra work and you agree to pay more for it
• they made a genuine mistake when writing down or calculating the price - they have the
legal right to charge you what it should have been.
Be wary if a contractor won’t put a quote in writing. It’s a sign they could be unreliable.
Also be cautious if their price is a lot lower than other quotes you get. It could mean they don’t have the right skills or experience, or they’re not being honest. It could also mean they’re not quoting for exactly the same work.
Be very clear about the work you want done - this will help you get the most accurate price and prevent misunderstandings later.
A quote should include:
• a fixed total price - not a daily rate
• a breakdown of all the work to be done and the materials needed
• separate costs for each material and part of the work
• how long the price is valid for
• if the price includes VAT
• when the price can go up, eg only if you agree to extra work
Before saying yes to a quote, you should check the contractor has the correct insurance in place and try to get a written contract.
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