If you need an educated guess about what a repair will cost, ask for an estimate. If you want a considered, fixed price, ask for a quote.

Putting together a quote will take a trade firm some time. Some firms will want to know that you will have advance payments from owners in place before they will even consider giving you a quote. Be as specific as you can about what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask about options for carrying out additional works.

Specifying for a quote

You need to give as much detail as possible about what needs to be done. This is to make sure that you can fairly compare quotes when they come back.

  • use the repair checker on our website or your building survey to check what you need to ask for
  • ask for the most work you think you can possibly afford – a large fraction of your quote will be for just getting the job set up, erecting scaffolding, etc.; adding more work could save you paying all these set up costs again in a couple of years time
  • ask for a detailed breakdown so you can check what is and is not included
  • ask for separate costs for ‘run ons’ – each additional square metre of re-slating or repointing
  • ask for some additional options to be costed – it might be worth raising your budget
  • if owners want individual responsibility works included, get these priced individually
Comparing quotes

Try and get at least three quotes.

When comparing quotes:

  • don’t just look at the bottom line
  • compile a checklist for each one, so you see which quotes may have missed something important that might need to be paid for later
  • if a firm has missed something, ask them to re-quote, including this item
  • be suspicious about very low quotes – what have they missed out and what will they do when they find they are making a loss on your job?
  • what materials do they plan to use – check quality with a builders merchants
  • check weather protection and safety proposals for each firm (how will they provide safe access for the work and what will they do to protect other parts of the building, gas flues, etc.)
  • check service proposals, emergency contact numbers, etc.
  • for how long is the quote open – enough time for you to get owners’ advance payments in place?
  • check what insurances and warranties are included

You will also want to check arrangements for work on-site such as outline start/completion dates, security, safety, the payment plans, catering and lavatory arrangements, hours of work, cleaning up, and the disposal of waste materials.

If you are using the Novoville app, you can request and receive quotes from traders directly. Novoville asks traders to quote using a specific structure to help you compare quotes.

Further reading

Before accepting a quote

Make sure you have:

  • got all owners on board and got advance payments in your maintenance account
  • followed proper procedures
  • got all the permissions you need

Avoid paying upfront or a cash deposit – it should not be needed unless you request specialist building materials. Staged payments at defined points can be a good idea.

If you personally accept the quote, you will be responsible for making sure it gets paid – make sure you are as well protected as you can be.

If you are using the Novoville app to progress your repair, accepting a quote happens by recording owners’ votes inside the app. This then automatically informs the trader that their quote has been accepted, and gives you access to the pre-filled letters you need to notify everyone that a decision has been taken (the ‘Notification of Scheme Decision’).

Getting professional help

If you find this process intimidating, if the work sounds complicated or if the quotes you get back come to more than £10,000, you should consider getting professional help, such as an architect or surveyor, to detail and supervise the work.

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Managing and maintaining a tenement building can be difficult. Under One Roof offers a free enquiry service that allows you to ask specific questions relating to your building.

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