There is really no difference between an estimate and a quote, unless either is specifically stated to be a final price or a firm price.

There are, however, several types of estimates, and it is important to know the difference, as well as what is being provided by the contractor.

>> A rough or preliminary estimate provides a “ballpark” cost for a project. These are usually prepared very early in the planning of a project. They are primarily used to help you decide whether you want to proceed and to establish a rough budget. These are prepared with very little specific detail about the project. They do not guarantee the actual final cost of the project, and they should be accurate to within 20 – 35% of the actual cost.

>> An intermediate, conceptual or time and material estimate will be more detailed and somewhat more accurate. These estimates will be based on some information about the quality of workmanship expected and the materials to be used.

These estimates still do not guarantee a price and do not promise to reflect a final price or cost for the job.

>> A contractor’s bid estimate is a “quote” or estimate provided to you by contractors when competing for your project. This is the price they expect to charge you to do your remodel. They are detailed estimates of actual anticipated costs for specific materials and your expectations about workmanship and schedule.

With this type of estimate you need to be careful and be certain you are clear about whether the contractor’s bid is an estimate and subject to change under certain circumstances or a bid/quote of the price for which the contractor is agreeing to do the job if awarded the contract.

>> Finally, there are fixed price estimates, which include the most detail. They will list every item of material, including quality. They will specify details about installation and workmanship, including the number of coats of paint they will apply. It will be very specific about what work will or will not be included in the price, and it will state that any other problems encountered will incur additional cost.

This final type of estimate will eventually become part of your final contract.