Whilst you might think that a cost estimate and a quote are the same thing, some closer understanding shows they are significantly different.  Understanding whether the builders proposal you have is a cost estimate or quote is important to being able to understand cost, compare proposals, and to identify which builder offers the best value for money.  

building cost estimate vs quotation

Cost estimate

A cost estimate to build your new home or renovation project is an estimate.  There may be insufficient information to understand all requirements with certainty and so some assumptions and estimates of cost are made in order to calculate a figure.

It can be helpful to have a cost estimate prepared for your design, so you can better understand potential costs before investing in further details designs and engineering documentation.  However it is important to understand that as an estimate, a cost estimate is a guide only to actual cost.


A quote is more defined, it is a more accurate price and in most cases would be the contract value for the project.  It will be easier to compare quotes to each other as information is known, there should be no need for the builder to make assumptions.

In order to prepare a quote information is required; for example:
  • construction plans
  • specifications
  • schedule and material selections
  • energy assessment report
  • bushfire assessment report (where relevant)
  • engineering footing report and layouts
  • engineering structural report and layouts
In some cases full development approval documentation is also required before the contract value is finalised.

So when talking with a builder and asking for a proposal, be clear whether you are asking for a cost estimate or a quote.  And when you compare proposals ensure you are comparing like for like.