Knowing how we compute our quotes allows you to understand how you can budget for your project or what things increase/decrease the quote. We try to be as transparent as possible, you work hard for your money and it’s important to spend them as wisely as possible.
Almost all our quotes have 4 big components. Some quotes might simply have a total price where it’s a difficult task to divide into multiple parts or where a supply & fit quote is the only option we could offer. The components are as follows:
1. The labour charge
This is the part where our service is priced. It is computed on an hourly basis, but the project price will stay fixed no matter how long the project actually takes.
Let’s say we estimate the project to take 80 hours and we spend 100, your invoice will only contain the 80 hours we estimated initially. This is even if we misestimated something, it happens for things to be different from what we estimated sometimes.
This part contains the part our business relies on: wages for our team members, travelling expenses, software, tools and so on. The labour price pretty much stays the same no matter what sort of materials you use, so you’re better off if you choose more quality materials. Read this article if you want to see more about how you should compare quotes.
You should never accept a quote that is not fixed, you should have a written confirmation from the contractor that this is fixed (an email saying this or mentioning this on the estimate is enough from a legal perspective). It’s a common practice in the construction industry to increase the price during the project, including for multimillion projects; this is really unfair for those of us that have fixed prices since, in the end, they usually charge much more than us, despite having a lower initial quote.
While you might be tempted to say that you go with the lowest quote and don’t accept a price increase at a later stage, this is not as easy to do. We would never undertake a project started by someone else and others will probably do the same since it’s a nightmare to continue someone else’s project, you won’t have much choice except to accept a price increase. Again, you should never accept a quote that is not fixed!
2. Waste disposal
As a trade, we have to pay for the waste we produce. As a homeowner, you can dispose of waste yourself for free at your local recycling centre. Well, it’s not really free, it’s paid by the council tax, the more people do this, the more expensive the council tax would become for everybody.
There are basically 2 ways to dispose of trade waste: hire a skip or dispose of the waste directly to a trade recycling centre. Hiring a skip is more complicated since you need to arrange the delivery, collection and you also need a place for it. Not speaking that the capacity is quite small and for many projects you’d need several skips.
We use a dedicated tipper van for waste disposal and we have a licence to dispose of waste. The total prices are slightly lower (especially since we can recycle some at source) and we can dispose of the waste right away without the need for a skip.
Due to the nature of this process, you can’t get cheap waste disposal. The charges we pay to dispose of the waste are the main part of the cost, so if you have a much lower cost for this, the waste is dumped on a field somewhere!
In order to do a project, there are some ‘hidden’ materials we need. This can include a variety of things: sealants, connectors, plasterboard, insulation, timber products, and so on. Most of them are low cost, but they’re a large number of different items.
Even if you want a-labour only quote, we’d prefer to supply some of these ourselves since you’ll most likely miss buying something. Even ourselves, as prepared as we try to be, there are things that we still might miss when we plan a part of the project. If something is missing, this can delay the project (fortunately there are many trade places selling this, so we can easily buy them at short notice)
At the same time, we’re open if you want to supply some of these yourself. Sometimes you prefer certain things like a special type of insulation or you have some materials left from a previous project. We will accommodate this. If you send us a list of what you already have, then we can deduct this from our list. The more you supply, the less our additional charge for materials will be. Again, the additional materials charge will stay fixed, even if we exceed the amount with these materials.
4. Main products
This is where you can save money if you want, especially if you go with high-end products. We have some products that we can supply, but because we offer a warranty on both workmanship and products, then our selection is relatively limited in what we could offer. If we have issues with a product, generally we remove it immediately from our catalogues. While we constantly add some new products to what we could offer, we only do this with products we are confident are good quality.
It takes a lot of time with ordering the products, checking everything and dealing with any issues with the manufacturers. In order to convert our costs with this, we add a mark up of around 30%; a long term we basically break even with our costs for supplying these, we don’t gain anything from this. So you can expect the products to be at least around 30% cheaper if you buy them yourself.
Initially, we mentioned that you can save money especially if you buy high-end products. The reasoning behind this is that high-end products are less likely to have manufacturing faults, so us supplying those items is less important in terms of the warranty for you. Also, our 30% mark-up on low-cost items is just a few pounds in some cases, but for very expensive items, this can be a big sum. We still don’t benefit from this long term, we still only break even, even if it’s an expensive product; so you’re more than welcome to supply something yourself if you want.
A misconception is that trade has very good prices. This is no longer true since online shopping took off. In the past, there was a clear distinction between the prices that trade used to pay and what the customer pays. Internet shopping started a competition to the bottom in regards to the prices, so there is where you’ll find your best prices. Trade prices are sometimes more expensive than retail prices! For example B&Q, the trading card is 10% of the order value, but special promotions apply only to retail customers (it happened several times for the receipt to increase once we scanned our trade card)