At Bakker Construction we receive calls from potential clients on a regular basis that are eager to discuss their projects and have us prepare a “free estimate” to complete the work. Undoubtedly at some point in the past, a General Contractor decided that providing free estimates would be a great marketing tool, and it has become generally accepted by the public today that the construction industry provides free estimates to anyone who asks for one. How often have you seen a contractor’s truck with a sign that says “Free Estimates!”?
But what is a “free estimate” exactly? The word estimate can be a verb or a noun. The definition of the verb is to roughly calculate or judge the value, number, quantity, or extent of something, while the noun is an approximate calculation or judgment of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something. So it stands to reason that the definition of a “free estimate” when applied to the construction industry would be an approximate calculation of the cost to complete the project, provided free of charge to the prospective client. However, what most prospective clients want and expect, when they request a free estimate, is an exact cost, and not an estimate at all. After all, who would want to embark upon a major kitchen or bathroom remodel, addition, or renovation project in Monterey County based only upon an approximate calculation? We certainly wouldn’t!
The old adage “you get what you pay for” is no more appropriate than with regard to home improvement work. A contractor that provides a free estimate is HOPING to get the job. A contractor that is paid to provide a detailed project proposal is planning HOW to do the work, and in so doing, is able to spend the time that is necessary to prepare a budget and scope of work that is accurate and comprehensive.
At Bakker Construction we will gladly meet with a prospective client to discuss a project free of charge, and will also provide an informal, high level estimate of what we think a project will cost. If a prospective client is interested in possibly moving forward with a project, through the use of a Pre-Construction Planning Agreement, for a reasonable fee, we will prepare a detailed budget and scope of work that explains clearly and precisely what we will do, how we will do it, and how much it will cost.
If design work, drawings, inspections, or permits are required, these are also services we provide. Not only are our prospective clients provided with accurate budgets, this process allows them to get to know us in a professional capacity and to see how we perform, all without further obligation or commitment. After all, wouldn’t it be better to determine that a particular General Contractor is a good fit prior to starting work, and that the project budget was not based upon an approximate calculation?