Free Quotes?!

Take that "free quotes" sticker off the side of your van!!

Ok so I totally get the free quote thing.

I would generally be a bit peeved if I went to get new curtains or a lounge suite or anything else along those lines and someone said to me it would cost me money for them to provide me with that price.

However, considering that pricing for a house project is a heck of a lot more involved than that surely, they are not the same thing nor should they be treated as though they are?

You're adding value

It has been proven time and time again, that people do not value things that they get for free.

So, in the instance of you not charging a fee for pricing someone’s plans, why should they value all the work you put into that if you are just giving it away?

Does that mean you are also not valuing your own time?

How would your family feel about that considering they are often the ones missing out while you are slaving away in the wee hours working on a quote?

This fella might be familiar

I met a guy at a seminar I gave a while back, he looked tired, and he asked me how best to handle a situation where he had spent three weeks of his time pricing up a job for a lady who had come to him.

He presented the price to her, and her first reaction was, oh, that’s way too expensive, I can’t afford that.

Poor guy looked almost broken just while he was telling me!

She then went on to ask him what could be done to reduce the cost significantly, and then expected him to work through the changes with her designer to make it happen.

He dutifully did as he was asked, wasting more precious time prior to him being paid a cent.

Even after the changes were made, it was still outside of her budget as her situation had changed, and she asked for more cost-cutting ideas.

At this point, he was at the end of his tether and almost catatonic at the thought of spending any more time on the job, but also feeling like he had gone so far he couldn’t walk away.

Change is afoot

My opinion was that the pricing exercise should have been outsourced at a cost, or completed in-house at a cost right from the get-go.

The conversation also should have been had that budgetary exercises could have been completed at the early stages to ensure the house could be completed near her budget prior to the design being completed, and the client wasting too much of hers or the builders time.

Luckily, as I saw in Auckland at the seminars there does seem to be a shift in the mindset of SME builders.

It is slow, but it is happening!

Guys are starting to remove that ‘Free Quote’ sticker off the side of their vans and are utilising some of the awesome professional services contracts, available via building associations to officially engage clients.

This is enabling the conversation toward being able to charge clients for pricing alongside design prior to signing off on the building contract.

By creating a ‘new normal’ around charging for quotes the whole industry will follow suit.

So don’t let that be a segue into feeling like those who offer pricing for free are more competitive.

It’s definitely a false economy!

Do your clients currently pay for quoting? Need help talking to them about paying for it? We can help.


  1. Darrell on July 11, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Team,
    i am also a QS for a busy construction company. Whilst we do a lot of competitive tender work for our clients we are always asked about quoting for small residential (usually) projects, renovations etc. Our policy is also to charge a fee with the proviso of crediting the fee if we are successful with securing the project. Otherwise we send a current list of charge up rates with margins, P & G expenses etc.
    I agree if we can all band together & rid the industry of the free quoting myth – the sooner the better.

    • admin on July 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      That’s a brilliant way to deal with it, this notion of spending hours and hours pricing a job for free needs to change. It’s not as simple as asking for a subcontractor quote on one element, pricing an entire project is a lot more complex and time-consuming and holds far more risk! Residential builders could also take their lead from commercial tender situations, where the cost of pricing is also built into offsite overheads (and therefore margin on all jobs won). At the end of the day, as you have been, the only way to educate homeowners looking for a price from builders that there is a cost involved in building up the quote is for those being asked to quote to educate them. Eventually, there will be a market shift! Thanks for your comment Darrell

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