If you are about to begin building your home, are planning an extension or a remodel, you will be looking for the services of a reliable contractor and collecting estimates for the work that you intend to have done. A natural question to ask at this point is if you are expected to pay for the estimate that a professional contractor provides? Whether a contractor charges you for an estimate will depend as much on the job as the company that you are asking to provide an estimate and its policy regarding estimates.
Paid estimate or free? What should you expect and why?
A detailed estimate for a large job
If your project is large and involves a large amount of work to arrive at an accurate bid, the contractor is likely to charge you a nominal amount that he may offer to offset against the work if he wins the bid. Estimates for large, complicated projects require a contractor to provide up to date prices for all inputs involved and may require a good amount of work and it is only fair to pay a contractor in such an event.
Also, expect to pay for an estimate that involves the contractor providing any design work as this will involve multiple meetings with the contractor to discussing your requirements following which the contractor will provide suggestions and may draw up plans to show you, this will come at a cost of time and resources to the contractor, a cost which he may pass on to you.
Contractors do not usually charge to provide estimates for smaller jobs. Simple jobs like marble floor polishing for an entire home are easily estimated on the basis of carpet area and do not require a large investment of resources from the contractor, therefore estimates for straightforward jobs are usually free. The same logic applies to painting your home, an accurate estimate for interior or exterior painting is fairly simple to arrive at , but the same may not apply to an interior design service that will be expected to provide multiple consultations before you arrive at a final plan for the work. Interior designers and architects may provide a first free consultation or meeting to discuss your project but will likely charge you if expected to visit your home or building site especially if it is far or in another city.
Designs and drawings come at a cost
It is always better to be clear and ask upfront if you are expected to pay for an estimate and avoid any confusion that may keep you from hiring a professional who may turn out to be perfect for the job.