“When contractors meet with potential clients, we have many topics to discuss. Our conversation often starts with me asking a prospective client what I can do to fix their problem. Many things will come up throughout the conversation and as we talk the client’s wish list often grows, often inspired by the passion of the project or the excitement caused as two parties exchange ideas. As rapport and excitement builds and flows, I try to capture all of the information on paper and in my memory, knowing that this information will later be placed into the estimate, which will be reviewed later by the client.
Afterwards, I go to my office to create the estimate. If it is not an immediate reflection at our desk (and it rarely is), small details can be forgotten and pictures don’t always capture the proper depth perception on the computer. As I visualize the project, the steps and materials necessary, and everything the client wants, I put all of the information into the estimate. When I complete it, I present it to the client to review the estimate, which is meant to act as a “checks and balances”. The client should do more than look at the bottom line; they should review the estimate in its entirety, ensure that all of their wants and needs are on the estimate, and that there is a price associated with them. If any of those things are missing, the client should inform me so that I can ensure that they get the accurate price for their project. Missing items are never intentional, as they are often a result of attempting to capture the flow of ideas on paper while walking a job site. After all is said in done, I want to make sure the client gets the most accurate price to avoid the “I thought that was included” when the project is finished and the balance is due. It is the contractor’s job to put everything into the quote, but it is the client’s job to review the estimate and ensure that they are getting everything they asked for. Working together with the contractor is the best way to ensure you get everything you want out of your project.