Why You Shouldn’t Trust Free Build Quotes

Nothing comes free.  Nothing.  Not even good, especially not good.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Are you looking for a builder for your dream home but worried you’ll get ripped off?

Some people might advise you to send your plans to 3 or more builders to quote (for free) and then choose the cheapest quote.  So what’s wrong with that?

The problem with free build quotes

Building or renovating a home is complex.  There are a multitude of tasks involved, from demolition, excavation, concreting, brickwork and framing to plumbing, electrical works, joinery, windows & doors, cladding, flooring, tiling and painting (to name a few).

Providing an accurate, reliable, fixed price quote for the entire package of works takes time, expertise and experience.  It takes us around 40 hours, and sometimes more, to prepare a comprehensive fixed price quote for a residential building project.

If you were an experienced builder with a reputation for high quality homes, how much time would you spend working for free preparing a quote for a building project you may not be appointed to build?

Builders working for free will not want to spend the necessary time or effort to accurately quote your building project. The potential consequences for you:

  • In order to save time, their quotes may include a number of allowances (ie cost estimates) for tasks, which may mean you end up paying a lot more.
  • They may not devote the time & attention needed to understand the plans, things may get missed or misunderstood.
  • Their quotes will likely be brief, often only a page or 2, so it’s not clear exactly what’s included and what’s not.
  • Not wanting to have wasted their time, their quotes may be low balled to win the job and corners cut during the build to save costs.

If you proceed based on a quote like this, there is a significant risk that you will be hit with devastating budget blow outs (as the builder seeks to recover missed or underquoted costs via expensive contract variations).  Or your home will require extensive re-work in the future.

A professional builder will charge for a fixed price build quote

A professional builder, who will invest the time and expertise needed to provide you with a comprehensive, reliable fixed price build quote, will charge for their time.

So if you approach a builder who charges for a quote, it’s a good sign that they are professional and will provide a comprehensive, reliable fixed price build quote.

Some builders will refund some or all of their fee if they are appointed to undertake the works.

What you should receive when you pay for a quote

Before you agree to pay for a quote, check whether the builder will:

  • devote time to fully understanding your plans, engineering and specifications
  • advise on potential cost savings and cost effective construction methods & materials
  • prepare a detailed scope of works – so you know exactly what’s included and what’s not
  • clearly identify any allowances included in the price
  • prepare a construction schedule with an estimated timeline for each task
  • present their building proposal in person

So you can make a fully informed decision when selecting your builder, putting you on the right path to a stress free build and a new home delivered on time and on budget.


To help you select the right builder for you & your project, we have prepared a FREE guide: The 7 Critical Questions to Ask Before You Choose Your Builder.

Download it now to learn:

arrow How to check whether your builder is up to the job

arrow How to avoid getting caught out by builders charging you more than you were expecting

arrow and more handy tips




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Sue Davidson

The highlight of Sue's job at Gaia Construction is handing over beautifully crafted homes to excited clients. In her spare time, Sue is passionate about the environment & the outdoors, enjoying time hiking, sailing, walking her dog Lulu and travelling around Australia with her husband Jeremy & Lulu in their small campervan.
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