Is it Legal to Update a Quote?

A quote is widely used across many industries, but perhaps more so in construction. Different trades have different charges and this is reflected in their prices. Your quote will set out the terms of your services, exactly what you will be completing and the cost for such. If the customer accepts your quote it is then a legally binding contract. So is it legal to change and update the quote after it’s accepted?

Table of Contents

Writing a good quote

Of course it is ideal to get the quote as accurate as possible when you first send it to your client. Sometimes it can be hard to think about every facet and foresee all potential obstacles though. Here are some tips for you to write the most comprehensive quote. This can help you prevent going back to the customer asking for more money, and creating a potential hostile relationship.

  • Write out all your business details. This includes ABN/ACN, address, phone number and email.
  • Total cost, as well as breakdown of costs.
  • All variation costs that are additional to the main contract job.
  • Your payment details. This is your livelihood and you need to ensure that you get paid on time in order to pay for all of your own expenses.
  • When the payment is due by. This is also very important so it gives the client a timeframe to pay you. By not having this detail, it opens up the possibility to not getting paid at all.
  • Quote expiry date. This detail is often underestimated, but you should put some good thought into this. Prices are constantly rising in every industry, and your supplier could increase their price by 20% from the time you quote and the time the client actually accepts. Having an expiry protects you against loosing out on money if this happens.
  • Customer signature line.

Alternatively, you can have a construction lawyer write up the template for you or review the one you have created. This will ensure that you are legally correct, up to date and protected.

What about an estimate?

There is actually a difference between a quote and an estimate, and there are perfect times to use both. Knowing when to use each can save you time, money and potential legal issues with your clients.

An estimate is perfect for when you don’t know all of the details just yet but wanting to get the attention of your client and stand out in the crowd. All of the things you should include on your estimate are essentially the same as the quote. The main difference is to name this an estimate instead of a quote, and state that the prices are based on an estimate, awaiting further clarification.

Including a terms and conditions

An easy way to ensure that you can have the freedom to update a quote is to include a terms and conditions section somewhere on your quote or estimate. You can put this on your first page at the bottom, or perhaps the second page on its own.

You can specify that you reserve the right to make changes to the quote, but that you can only do with through writing and with 5 working days notice. It’s not viable to allow yourself to make changes without letting the client know. If potential clients read that condition before signing it’s safe to say they would take their business elsewhere. You want to financially protect yourself but without any risk to the client.

When you notify the client of the update to the quote that is needed, depending on the severity they may opt not to go in that direction. For example, a particular product is out of stock with your supplier. You need to source it from a new one, but that supplier charges more. When you notify the client of this situation, it may be that the original supplier has something very similar and is willing to keep the same cost for you. You can advise of these options and the client may choose the latter.

Sometimes you may have completely forgotten to include something in the quote. Depending on the amount and how crucial it is to the job, you may just honour the price you’ve given. If it’s a significant amount, you need to make sure you disclose this so you don’t loose out on money. Just be up front, honest and clearly state what the correct price should be.

Most people should be accommodating, not that they will still engage your services for that price but at least they will understand. If a client is having a big issue with it you may have to complete the job for the price you originally stated if you had no terms and conditions to protect you.

Conclusion

To update your quote can be risky and unprofessional, however if done right and with the above safeguards in place you can ensure that you maintain a good reputation, achieve your jobs and also create financial stability. Being upfront and honest with your clients is always key, whether you need to change your quote or not. Don’t forget about the option of providing an estimate instead of a quote as another option.

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