Construction Projects: Quote vs. Estimate

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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If you come from the construction industry, you may have heard of the words quote and estimate. In most cases, you may have thought that there isn’t much difference between each of them. But as your experience in the field of construction increases, you realize both quotes and estimates are pretty different from each other. So which one is more important?

Although both quotes and estimates have different meanings, they convey similar things. Like “hi”, “hello”, and “howdy”, they are separate words that refer to similar concepts. In this article, we will discuss the differences between bid and proposal to give you a thorough clarification on your client’s expectations. So the next time you are working on a construction project, you know what these terms indicate.

But before we move ahead, do take a look at this link for more relevant information.

What Is A Quote?

The construction world is a document containing a comprehensive breakdown of the expected estimate concerning the ongoing project. Such a thing may incorporate facets, mainly quantities, labor cost and material cost. Generally, these quotes are only valid for a specific period; usually around a month or so. However, quotes do expire because the labor and material costs fluctuate timely. Therefore, it is essential to keep refreshing the quotes to keep them up to date.

Supply and the demand for materials have a massive role to play in quotes. For example, materials like lumbar do not always come with a quick turnaround time. That is why the availability of lumber is quite a concern in these regions and may likely need shipping from a distinct location. With time, suppliers may require enough time to catch up to these unexpected demands. This is when quotes need to be created with a specific expiry date. Before the construction work begins, it is vital to discuss quotes and clarify any client-related doubts. Such a thing leaves minimal room for hassles in the long run.

What Is An Estimate?

People utilize estimates to receive a basic idea about the project costs required to complete a specific construction project in the construction world. This is done by contractors who look at the various aspects of the project and analyze the labor and raw materials it may demand. After this, the contractor assembles the quotes for different materials and determines a specific estimate for the task. Such a thing may also contain other facets of a job, like taxes and overhead equipment costs related to the project. Therefore, contractors should create a draft estimate before submitting a proposal or a bid.

What Is A Bid?

With the specific quote and a draft estimate at hand, it now becomes more convenient to submit a bid. In the construction business, a bid is regarded as a document that specifies the rates for the amount of work done during a certain amount of time. This may contain proposed project illustrations, designs and plans. Many people also regard a bid as a special price that is delivered in a document.

For big projects, general contractors may receive an assortment of bids from diverse subcontractors. This is done to finish a section of work on a specific construction project. For example, a trader contractor may come in handy for a general contractor to complete each window on a project. So the bid submitted by the window trade contractor can be utilized towards the budget for the entire building or project.

What Is A Proposal?

Once you have everything else ready, the proposal will be your final destination. This is what gathers all the previous terms to create a comprehensive document. This is submitted as a significant part of the construction project to help pitch clients in no time. Generally, these may contain:

  1. Quotes were received from the suppliers for each raw material to finish the project.
  2. A cost estimate that is linked with taxes, labor cost and other overhead items.
  3. An overall bid to complete the construction project based on the estimate and quote specified.
  4. Proposals that may contain different types of materials to use as windows, wood and concrete. They also include a timeline and payment schedule for the entire project.

Document Management

Construction projects often come with loads of paperwork. This happens not only before the construction project begins, but continues until the last phase of the same. It can be a hassle to manage each document carefully and preserve them for the years to come. But Thankfully, we found a solution for that. If you are a self-performing contractor, you might depend on field-first project management software with document management and control functionality. With this software at hand, you can have your documents and work process data accessible digitally only with a few clicks. So no matter where you are, you can use it to your advantage.

Document Management may also come in handy for estimates, as they can be easily imported into the project management platform. This allows the contractors to manage the work in the process without any inconvenience. Whether they want to know about the estimate, current billings or real-time job consists, they can track them without any hindrance. You can also connect your project management platforms to your accounting system for payments. If you are worried about duplicate data entry or loose ends for invoicing, your panic can take a back seat. Now getting paid faster has turned from a dream into a reality.

The Bottom Line

Undoubtedly, the difference between quote and estimate is relatively subtle, but there is still a lot of intricate detailing to these terms that require your acquaintance. If you ever get confused between them again, it would be good practice to return to this article and look at the definitions and examples we have provided above for your support. After all, being well-informed will only increase your chances to succeed in every construction project you decide to undertake.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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