Homeowners Beware – The Risks of Accepting Unwritten Quotes

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Buying a property is more than just the fairytale ending of purchasing a home and settling in to live happily ever after. It is often a tricky business, especially when third parties get involved in your quest to create your ideal sanctuary.

Most people know the general rule of thumb when getting quotes: always request at least three quotes.

However, the often-forgotten side note to this rule is that those quotes should be provided in writing. It is important to have a document that serves as a personal insurance in the event of any disputes or miscommunications – particularly if legal issues arise as a result.

What protection does a written quote offer?

It is essential to get quotes in writing regardless of the job at hand, whether you’re hiring a plumber, a builder or a conveyancer. This is true even if you know the person who is doing the work.

You might think, “I’m working with someone I really trust”, and you therefore choose to take a contractor’s word for it. However, here are some reasons why that’s not enough:

  1. A quote that’s not confirmed in writing can suddenly change in cost.

    This can spell trouble, especially if you’re on a budget. A quote is meant to provide specific details on costs such as tools and labour, allowing you to wisely make decisions based on what you can afford. However, if you accept a verbal quote, it may not be legally binding – and you run the risk of a service provider suddenly increasing the price for any number of reasons, at a point when you can no longer turn back.

  2. A quote that’s not in writing can cause confusion regarding scope of work.

    Failing to clarify expected services or scope of work clearly and in writing can lead to disagreements and misunderstanding. An important distinction to keep in mind is that an estimate is different from a quote. Estimates are usually given verbally and can be vague with regard to the details on the work to be done. Quotes are usually more concrete and can be relied on as a final figure.

  3. A quote that’s not in writing can prevent you from fairly comparing.

    A written quote allows you to keep track of the prices, inclusions and expected timeframes. Ideally, you should be requesting the same information so you can compare apples with apples. You may receive (and accept) a lower verbal quote, only to find after the fact that it increases once extra services and inclusions are factored in – and it therefore wasn’t the most competitive quote at all.

What if my supplier can’t provide a written quote?

Understandably, there are some situations where suppliers may be incapable of presenting a very clear quote right off the bat. In these cases, estimates can serve as a temporary placeholder, but they should always be followed by proper written quotes once the details have been hammered out.

For instance, at Think Conveyancing, when we provide a written quote to potential clients, we include fixed costs for services that we know are relevant, and we then include a guide/range of costs for services that may be required and estimate costs for disbursements that may be incurred. This provides transparency and ensures there are no surprises when the bill arrives.

Keep in mind that written quotes don’t need to be actually supplied on paper; they can be provided via the post, on email or even in a text message.

Ultimately, getting a written quote is about safeguarding yourself. The acceptance of a quote indicates a need for both parties to follow through on the listed terms, so by having something in writing, you protect yourself from getting ripped off.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss your situation in further detail, please contact our friendly team on 1300 932 738. You can also contact us online here.

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