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Estimate vs Quote

What is the difference between an estimate and a quote? While this may seem obvious, it is important to understand the differences to avoid confusion when interviewing contractors to complete your project.


Most contractors have no problem providing a free no-obligation estimate. This is usually a ballpark "best guestimate" of the project. After initially discussing your project scope with your contractor, they should be able to give your a rough price, or price range, based on some knowledge of the project. Contractors draw on previous experience of similar projects to yours or may have a baseline per square foot price. This is usually a good starting point before investing more time and effort. If this estimate far exceeds your price expectations, this may be the time to re-think the project or your price expectations before investing hours of both your time and the contractor's time getting into the exact details.

Keep in mind, this estimate can often vary greatly based on client selections as the project gets into more detail. For example, flooring and tile can vary significantly in price ranges. A contractor will usually base their estimate on the average price, so if the price you get on your quote is much different than the contractor's original estimate, this may be why. If you ask a contractor what the kitchen cabinets might cost and they tell you $30,000 and then you design a custom Ferarri kitchen with all the bells and whistles that then comes in at $80,000, don't assume the contractor baited you by offering a lesser price just to get your business.

At Hammerhead, our experience allows us to provide you with a few different estimates after initial discussion and based on the level of your project so that you can make an informed decision.


A quote is significantly more detailed than an estimate. This is usually where a contractor starts to earn their worth. With an array of preferred suppliers, a contractor will likely start making phone calls to suppliers and vendors, and maybe even start discussing with engineers and architects about the project. The project will get broken down into more detail by each line item.

Even for an experienced contractor, this process requires a fair amount of effort and time. A skilled and experienced contractor will have preferred vendors on speed dial that they can tap into to get some quick quotes on specific items and will start to negotiate with different vendors on your behalf to find the best price.

In some cases, the contractor may want to set up meetings with suppliers such as flooring or cabinet designers to help you select specific items, or they may provide an 'allowance" for other selections. If later on in the process, you choose an upgraded item that exceeded the price of the allowance, a client will have to pony up the difference.

A contractor usually will not go through this process without some assurance they will proceed with the project and for good reason.

The Hammerhead Difference

At Hammerhead Construction, we have established many relationships with the best vendors and suppliers in the industry. This means we are able to get quotes on items quickly and at a great price for you. We work with incredible designers that will help you select the best items for your project and assist you in turning your vision into a reality.

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