What’s the difference In Estimate, Quote and Proposal

Does your home need a little update? Trying to find a general contractor to add a new bedroom on for a growing family? Want to finally complete the basement but need to hire a crew to handle the work for you? Planning to tackle any type of a remodel or building job can be a lot of tough work. The best thing to do is speak to a licensed contractor to let them know what you have in mind and let them use their expertise to start the project and see it through the end.


What’s the difference In Estimate, Quote and Proposal


When you start looking for a contractor however, you are going to hear some contractors tell you they will come out for a free estimate, or they offer a quote for service or they will check the site out and give you a proposal for the work at hand. The thing is, for most people who want to get work done at their home, there is a little confusion about the difference in an estimate, a quote and a proposal.

Some companies will use estimate and quote to mean the same thing, and this is great! Some others however will say the words each have a different meaning. For the most part, it can depend on who you talk to and even what part of the country you live in.

Contractors Today wants to help simplify the meanings behind the words so our clients will be able to determine what they can expect when they speak to a contractor to handle the work they have at their home or business. Here’s a quick lesson in what a quote, estimate and proposal are and what the contractor may mean when offering one.


A contractor will offer an estimate to let the customer know that they expect the cost to complete a project will be. They factor in the materials needed for the job as well as the manpower that will be required to handle the job. This figures in not only the number of laborers, but the number of hours they suspect their crew will need to work to finish the task within the time frame the customer desires.

Estimates may include materials, manpower, taxes, equipment and tools and other items that will be necessary for the job. In most cases, a contractor will offer a free estimate to let the customer know what they believe the cost for the job will be. Some however, will charge for an estimate depending on how detailed it is.


A quote is usually offered for free from the contractor to the customer. Like an estimate, and often treated as the same thing by the contractor, it shows the customer a cost that the contractor believes will be sufficient for the task at hand. In many instances, a quote may only be valid for a specific time (i.e. 30 days or 60 days) because the cost of fuel and materials to complete a job will fluctuate over time. A quote is based on the cost of materials at the time the quote is given to the customer.


A proposal is a little more detail oriented than a quote or estimate may be. It is usually offered when a customer will be getting several rates from various contractors and each contractor, while striving to make money, will offer a proposal for the work in a way to try to out-bid another contractor for the job.

A proposal will usually include the cost for labor, materials, subcontractor fees and taxes and overhead for the project. When a contractor offers a proposal, they may have it labeled as a contract for the customer to sign if they agree to the terms.

While there are differences in estimates, quotes and proposals, it is important to hire the right contractor for the project you have coming up. For the best contractor in your area, be sure to contact Contractors Today for a referral to the companies that will provide the highest quality work on your home remodel, addition or other contractor job.