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The Difference between a quote, an estimate and a charge up job

Do you know the difference between a quote, an estimate and a charge up job? In this week’s tool tip Thursday, we will explore the differences for you, so you have an idea of what is the norm when you are looking at appointing a tradesperson.


An estimate is a good/educated guess based on prior experience of similar jobs. It should be a “realistic guess” and can be given verbally or in writing (Citizens Advice Bureau, 2018). It is not a guarantee, but it will give you a rough idea of the costs involved prior to starting work. The end costs of the job should be within 10-15 % of the estimate given (Citizens Advice Bureau, 2018 and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & employment, 2019). An estimate may be given when a job involves unknown factors and hidden elements e.g. renovation type work.


A Quote is a legally binding agreement made between the tradesperson and a client. It is an “offer to do a job at a certain price” (Citizens Advice, 2018). A Quote should be given in writing. As explained by The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (2019) more cannot be charged, the price is the price and this his can only change if both parties agree. A quote for a job is usually made when all information is clear and know upfront e.g. new builds and extensions. A quote may be given for renovation type work, but will most likely have aspects of the job tagged out as extra costs. Ensure to check for any exclusions from the quote.

How many quotes?

It is good to do a bit of shopping around. In our opinion, three is the optimum number of quotes to look at. Any more than this, things get a little confusing and any less than this doesn’t really give you a good view of the possible costs. As discussed by The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (2019):


"When comparing quotes or estimates, don't just base your decision on price. You should also consider the service providers: level of experience, reliability, quality standards, references and past projects."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment(2019)

As mentioned above, it pays to check what is included and excluded from a quote when making a comparison. One quote may look cheaper on the surface, but may not include certain aspects required.

Charge up

Charge up is another way that tradespersons charge for their work/time, and is pretty self-explanatory. No final price is agreed upon beforehand, hourly rate and materials are charged. Types of work often completed as charge up include servicing work, emergency jobs and small jobs such as installing a new power point.

We hope this gives you a good idea of how trades price work to be completed, as well as your rights and expectations when receiving an estimate or quote. Remember three is an optimum number of quotes to look at and make sure they both include the same work.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us. We are here to help you out. Or check out one of our other blog posts such as: Bathroom lighting: how to light a bathroom or What causes electrical fires in the home?

Works Cited
Citizens Advice Bureau., 2018. Estimates and sales. [Online]Available at: http://www.cab.org.nz/vat/consumer/bts/Pages/EstimatesandQuotes.aspx
[Accessed 10th January 2019].
The Ministry of Business, I. a. E., 2019. Consumer Protection: Quotes and Estimates. [Online]Available at: https://www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/general-help/guide-to-buying-smart/quotes-and-estimates/
[Accessed 10th January 2019].
Joe Kelly

Author Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly, the managing director and founder of Coastal Connections Electrical Services. Joe Kelly is a highly skilled master electrician and passionate about all things electrical and automation.

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