Contractors Quote vs Estimate: What Are They and Why Do They Differ?

Contractors Quote vs Estimate: What Are They and Why Do They Differ?

Are you thinking about updating your Markham home but need to know how far your dollars will stretch? Determining how much you’ll pay can be a little confusing if you don’t understand the difference between a contractor's quote and estimate.

contractor clients discussing quote vs estimate

Quote vs Estimate: What Are They & What Do You Need For Your Markham Renovation

Although quotes and estimates both provide information about renovation costs, they’re actually very different. An estimate is a rough guess while a quote is an exact amount you’ll pay for a job. If you’re planning to expand your kitchen, add a primary bedroom suite, finish your basement, or complete any other type of home renovation, you’ll want to ask your contractor for a quote.

Bathroom Vanity with his and her sections and Shower renovation in Markham

What Are Estimates?

Estimates give you an idea of what you’ll pay for a job but may not be the actual amount you’ll be charged. When providing an estimate, a contractor offers a figure based on the information you tell them about your home. If your project is more complicated than the average job, you may pay more than the estimated amount.

Let’s say your living room is looking a little shabby and needs a new coat of paint. You call a painting company and ask for an estimate. You’re not sure how big the room is but think it’s about 15’ by 20’. The company estimates that it will cost $900. The estimate is based on the size of the room, the amount of paint needed to paint a room that size, and labour costs.

When the painters arrive at your home, they discover that they need to make changes to the estimate. Your living room is actually 16’ by 22’ and not 15’ by 20’ and includes a few built-in features that will take more time to paint. Additionally, they’ll need to skim coat one of the walls to cover up a bumpy do-it-yourself repair job.

Your final bill is $2,000, which is quite a difference from the $900 estimate you received.

clients working with contractor about quote vs estimate for renovation (1)

What Is a Quote?

If the painter had visited your home and provided a quote instead, you would have known exactly how much you’d pay before the job started. Quotes are binding. If you accept a $60,250 quote for a kitchen renovation, that’s exactly what you’ll pay. Quotes are usually good for a certain amount of time. The price listed in your quote may be valid for 30, 60, or 90 days.

The quoting process is very detailed and can sometimes take days or weeks, depending on the scope and complexity of the job. Before providing a quote for a Markham renovation, your contractor visits your home and evaluates:

  • The Condition of the Room or Rooms: If you’re renovating your Markham kitchen, the project may involve more than tearing out and replacing floors, cabinets and countertops. While preparing a quote, your contractor may notice that your pipes are old or leaky or that a few electrical changes will be needed to accommodate your new wine chiller and the extra refrigerator in the pantry area.
  • Materials Needed: The cost of building products is an important part of your quote and can vary significantly. Since every kitchen renovation is different, there’s no way to provide an accurate quote without talking to you about the changes you envision for the room. Do you want custom, high-end cabinets and limestone tile floors, or would you be happy with semi-custom cabinets and less expensive porcelain floor tiles that look like marble?
  • Labour Costs: Your contractor also factors in the number of hours needed to finish the job and multiplies by that number by labour costs. If your project will require highly specialized subcontractors, your labour costs could account for more than half of your total cost.
  • Other Factors That Affect the Cost: While quoting a renovation, the contractor considers other things that could affect costs. After removing the old tiles, they may need to level the floor before installing new tiles, which will increase the cost of the job. Perhaps you’d like to add a stained-glass window or another custom feature to your new kitchen. Your contractor may need to research prices and contact subcontractors to determine the current cost of special features.

Kitchen with island renovation in Markham

As you can see, it’s important to decide if you need a contractor estimate vs a quote when you’re thinking about renovating your home. For most major jobs, you will need a quote. You’ll probably discover that some renovation companies will give you a quote over the phone. But a visit to your home still needs to be made to get an appropriate quote. 

Do you need a quote for your Markham or Toronto renovation? Complete our contact form to get the process started.

markham renovation cost guide