An In-Depth Understanding Of Quote Versus Estimate

You are here:

If you are getting started on the billing processes, the several words quotes, estimates, bills, and invoices can confuse you. What are you expected to send, and how to complete the process? These are some of the questions you get at the beginning. This process deepens when you realize a small yet exciting line of demarcation between a quote, estimate, and bid.

As the jargon increases, the confusion grows bigger. Here, we will clarify the differences between two majorly used words before making the purchase – quote vs estimate.

We have taken you through several aspects of creating an estimate and the importance of the earlier blogs. We will help you know when to send a quote versus when to think of an assessment.

Quote vs. Estimate: Getting to Know

The first step to this comparative analysis is to understand what you mean by a quote and an estimate.

  1. Estimate Definition

    Have you ever heard the term? That’s what you do when you write an estimate. You approximate everything concerning the budget – the resources, the timelines, and even the total cost.

    It is more like an educated guess that helps you identify how much a particular project cost you.

    what is estimate

    In most cases, the estimate is given even before you are entirely aware of the project’s scope. You come up with an estimate when you have limited to no understanding of the project. Let’s understand this with an example.

    A building contractor has summoned you to lay the pipeline for the housing society. Based on the limited information regarding the number of houses, the total pipeline to be applied, and the expectations, you prepare a guesstimate of the costing.

    You estimated that the total pipeline would be x meters, and the cost would be $100 per meter. As you need to finish the project in a month, you will need at least ten laborers working in the space for, say, 8 hours per day.

    You will need equipment for digging, laying, and then tilling the land. So, your estimates will also include the same.

    There are a few things that help you in the process of defining the estimate:

    • Your building contractor, involved with the project from the start, would have analyzed past project costs. This data can help you build your estimate.
    • You can connect with people who would help you with purchasing the materials. This will help you develop the correct estimate.
  2. What is a Quote?

    The quotation is a more formal document that precisely specifies the total cost of the service or product you are offering. You send this document with the necessary conditions to the buyer to be documented.

    This document is created once you have a definitive idea of the scope, your estimate has been approved, and you are proceeding towards confirming the contract.

    The price quotes include all details, such as the details of services that will be included and those that will not be part of the scope.

    what is quote

    Before you begin writing the quote for the particular work, you should have

    1. A thorough understanding of what is expected of you
    2. An estimate that can guide you towards the cost, resource, and work allocation
    3. Kick-off meeting to understand requirements and inclusions
    4. An informal approval from the client on all the documents and communication you have sent

    The quotes formally accept the project, while estimates help the customers identify the suitable vendor.

When to Use: Quote vs. Estimate

The next segment of this guide unfolds to talk about when to use a quote versus when you can use an estimate. Let’s talk about an assessment to get started.

  1. The Estimate

    • When a project opens up to the contractor or business owners, it is time to unveil the estimates. At this point, the client in question talks to several contractors and wants to get their insights into the project costs.
    • Based on their judgement and analysis, each contractor will come up with the ideal budget for the project.
    • You use an estimate when the project is opened up to you or when the client wants to know the best cost you can provide them. It gives the owner a rough idea of the project costs and details.
  2. The Quote

    • After the bidding, once the contractor has won the project, they must submit a formal quotation with the exact price of the costs involved. The bidding process concludes with identifying the most suitable handyman or contractor for the client’s business requirements.
    • The contractor, at this point, would produce a document that includes every detail such as the project scope, the things not in scope, the vendor’s name, people who would be part of the team, cost breakdown, miscellaneous expenses, and timelines.
    • The quotation would also specify details on why a project can be delayed and what could happen with the execution.

Are Estimates and Quotations Legally Binding?

Let’s take this one at a time. If we look at estimates, they are approximations used to define the cost and timelines for the project. They can use past project calculations or determine the present charges for the same materials.

An estimation cannot be legally binding as it doesn’t consider the full scope or project requirement. You are merely basing the guesses on the data that you may have.

When we talk about quotations, they are not legally binding if submitted and not signed. It is more like a price bid sent to the client. However, estimate becomes legally binding if the quote is accepted and converted into an offer.

For example, if the project contractor submits their quote after winning the bid, and the business owner approves it, it converts into a legal binding. It is not permitted if there is no sign or acceptance of the document.

How Do You Estimate a Quote?

When estimating a new project, you need to pull data from past projects and the past work done in this segment.

It will help you create the ideal estimate that enables you to get the project. For example, if you have been given a chance to complete a plumbing project, you will use the past quotes submitted as your benchmark for the new project.

You are entirely aware of the things to be done, the materials to be bought, and the timelines. You may have submitted quotes in the past for similar projects, which helped you win them over.

Building on that quote, you can create the estimate for the new project. So, you have a threshold figure for cost and resources; you use it to define your current project.

Frequently Asked Questions
      1. What is the difference between a quote, estimate, and invoice?

        An estimate is the approximation of the total cost and resources for the project. A quote is a final documentation submitted before getting started with the project.

        It includes the scope and the comprehensive services added, the brief description of the project, and cost details. The invoice is raised at the end of the project for billing purposes. The invoices, when introduced, help the client release the amount to the vendor.

    1. What details are included in a quote?

      A quote is a detailed document comprising of the following:

      • The customer details
      • Job description
      • Detailed cost breakdown
      • Services included and excluded
      • Resources to be added
      • A detailed explanation of how you achieved the breakdown
      • Terms and conditions
      • Date from which the quote will come into existence
      • Space for signature and approval

    2. What details are included in the estimate?

      The estimate will contain your best understanding of the job at hand. You will include details specific to the job that needs to be done.

      It will be the most cost estimate of all the things you believe will be part of the project.


It is essential to understand what is expected of you at the moment- whether you need to submit a quote or an estimate. If you are in the initial phase, where several people are vying for the same project, an estimate will help you with the bidding process.

However, if you have been approved as the vendor, the last mile is to get the client to sign the quotation.

It is crucial to add specific details to your estimates and quotations to sync with the requirements.

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the founder of InvoiceOwl, a top-rated estimating and invoicing software that simplifies the invoicing and estimating processes for contractor businesses. Jeel holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Toronto, which has provided him with a strong foundation in business principles and practices. With understanding of the challenges faced by contractors, he conducted extensive research and developed a tool to streamline the invoicing and estimating processes for contractors. Read More


Kuwait City