FREE Quotes For Renovations – What Are The Risks?



When you are planning a renovation project, getting quotes from different contractors is a typical step in the process.

Many contractors offer “FREE quotes” to attract potential clients, but are these quotes as reliable as they appear to be?

In this article, we delve into the world of “FREE quotes and explore why you might want to exercise caution when considering them for your home renovation project.

A professional and comprehensive quote is a summary of your discussions with a client. It should include everything relevant to the renovation or service you are planning to provide the client.


Table of Contents

The Appealing Promise of "Free Quotes" for a renovation or new build

At first glance, the promise of “FREE quotes” can be enticing. After all, who wouldn’t want to save money when gathering estimates for a potentially costly renovation?

“FREE quotes” are often used as a marketing tactic to draw homeowners in, and they can indeed provide you with a rough idea of the potential cost of your project. However, there are significant caveats to consider.


A quote is usually a fixed-price offer. It means that you have:

  • The builder has reviewed the renovation work involved in detail.
  • Discussed the renovation requirements in full with the client.
  • Calculated the materials and labour required to complete the renovation.

Once the client accepts the quote, it has legal status. So you usually can’t charge more for the work than you have quoted. Any changes will be subject to “change requests”, “variations”.

The Builders Perspective

If you need to visit a medical specialist or lawyer to discuss your problem, they will potentially charge you $500 + per hour for their time and the privilege of their advice. An hourly rate for a builder or project manager is not that high in comparison, however, they are still providing a service.

Typically for an accurate and detailed quote, the contractor/builder may spend 1 to 2 weeks, preparing a quote, depending on the scope of work.

Would you work for free for this amount of time?

Free quotes - buiders view

What Does A Typical Quote Process Look Like?

The first step in creating an accurate and detailed quote for your renovation project is for a professional builder (preferably LBP qualified) to thoroughly review your drawings in order to determine exactly what building work is necessary and which subcontractors and other specialists will be required.

Next, the builder should meet with you to go over your designs in detail so they can create a thorough and detailed scope of work for your project.  For example, you might want to finish the renovation in phases or decide to handle some of the work yourself, such as the painting.  Before they can estimate the cost of your project, they must have this detailed knowledge.

Additionally, the builder will need to talk to you about the level of finish you want. When creating an accurate quote, it is important to be aware of the various types of details and finishes that are typically not included in architectural drawings.  They frequently require specific pricing and might greatly affect the budget of your renovation.

After the details of your renovation project are agreed upon, the builder then requires time to quantify and locate the building materials and other fixtures/fittings. Additionally, time is required for estimating the number of labour hours needed to complete the necessary carpentry work.

The subcontractors also require a copy of the architectural drawings and a scope of work they need to price on. As you can imagine requesting, reviewing, and compiling all this information into a comprehensive and accurate quote takes time!

What are the risks Of Free Quotes

The following are a few examples of risks associated with “FREE quotes”

Builders offering “FREE quotes” for larger renovations will typically have taken shortcuts. 

They probably rushed their procedure (reducing the time spent quoting), omitted some features, or just offered you a price made up using a list of “estimates” or “allowances” given the realistic time and work involved in the quote process. 

“FREE quotes” might not include all of the required project elements, which could result in unanticipated extra expenses or change orders/variations once the work is underway.

“FREE quotes” might not contain explicit requirements or a description of the tasks required for the scope of work. Therefore this leads to misunderstandings about what is covered by the quote and what is not.

Ultimately you will potentially pay more for everything in the end.

Free quotes - pitfall

The Benefits of Professional Paid Quotes

Investing in a professional renovation quote may come with an upfront cost, however, the benefits far outweigh the expense.

Professional contractors take the time to understand the unique aspects of your project, ensuring that their quotes are accurate and tailored to your needs.

Every aspect of your project should be covered, including information about the materials to be used, what is included in the pricing and what can be excluded, any reference drawings that was done, and possibly even a first cut of the project timeline.

This type of transparency can empower you to make informed decisions and prioritise certain aspects of your renovation.

Our Process

Our process starts with an initial consultation over the phone, MS Team Video, or Zoom meeting if you prefer.

During our initial call, we will discuss the option of a free feasibility report and request a copy of the council property file – if you decide to move forward with the feasibility report.

Once we have received the FREE feasibility report from our architects, we will arrange a time to visit your home to discuss the report and further assess your requirements. The report will outline the architect’s fees including the building consent submission to the council.

We will also discuss the costs for creating the first estimate based on the concept plans and the quote based on the working drawings.

This financial investment ensures that project costs are predictable by using the services of our QS, and compensates for the time spent negotiating accurate and reasonable pricing for the planned renovation.

Once you are happy with the fees, and payment terms and signed the agreements, we move forward with creating the concept plans.

During the meeting, it is critical that all decision-makers attend so that we understand everyone’s point of view and the potential costs of moving forward.

  • Check out our process here.

Moving Forward

So, for your next major renovation;

  • Do your homework if you want to avoid being surprised and would want a detailed and precise price for your renovation.
  • Ask for the price of the paid quote when interviewing builders. This will assist you in comprehending their procedure and enable you to choose the right qualified builder for your project.
  • Working through a paid quote process, your working relationship with the builder will be considerably stronger, and the entire project will typically go off without a hitch from the start.
Free quotes - moving forward


  • What does a QS do?
    The QS (quantity surveyor) is responsible for calculating the precise cost of a construction project. They also play other functions, including as ensuring that manufacturing and construction expenditures are handled as effectively as feasible.
  • How does builders quote for fixtures and fittings that haven't been chosen?
    If the prices or the selection of part or all of the fixtures and fittings have not yet been made, these can be quoted as:
    • A lump sum set aside as a "provisional sum" to cover these costs. Ask the contractor to clarify that the money quoted will cover the calibre of goods you're anticipating because provisional sums are sometimes underestimated.
    • A prime cost sum is a predetermined sum of money set aside for a specific item, allowing you to select it yourself. You will be required to pay more if you select an item that is more expensive than the prime cost amount. Unless otherwise specified, a prime cost sum excludes installation fees.
  • What is the difference between a Quote and Estimate?
    • A quote is a proposal to complete a specific job or task at a fixed price. Upon acceptance of a quotation, the contractor is bound to adhere to the agreed-upon price, with potential adjustments for variations, cost fluctuations, and provisional sums.
    • An estimate, as opposed to a quote, is a best guess about the price that a project would cost. A contractor will make their best estimate of the work, materials, and profit from beginning to end. The provision of a cost cap or a legal duty to perform the work at a defined price is not included in an estimate.

At Style Plus Renovations, we understand that the custom renovation or new home build can be long and involved, but with the right design & build builder, it can become a rewarding and enjoyable experience. At Style Plus Renovations, we prioritise listening to your goals and placing your needs at the forefront.

Whether you have specific design preferences, or unique requirements, or simply want to explore the possibilities of building a custom renovation or new home build, we are here to guide you. Our goal is to create a home that reflects your individual style, meets your functional needs, provides a space where you can thrive and reduces your carbon footprint.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you and discussing how we can bring your dream home to reality.

Whilst all information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.

The information may change without notice and Style Plus Renovations is not in any way liable for the accuracy of any information printed and stored or in any way interpreted and used by a user.


As an Auckland North Shore family-owned and run business, Style Plus Renovations cares about what we do and we take the time to fully understand your renovation needs. We are also proud to receive some exceptional compliments from our Auckland clients.

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Architects Renovation Feasibility Report



Tel us about your renovation project and we’ll call you back for a no-obligation chat about your ideas.

Alternatively, if you prefer, we can initially set up a meeting using Microsoft Teams or Zoom (and other meeting apps) for a no-obligation chat about your ideas.

We look forward to hearing from you to discuss your project and get you started on your renovation journey.

If you would like to know more about our renovation process, check it out here.

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