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After well over 40 years in building and construction, I think you’ll really kill off your potential clients if you try to charge for quoting…unless what you deliver is so unique people just want you no matter what you charge…I know of a few in this category but they’re rare beasts, have been around a long while and are exceptional craftsmen that do work of a standard that few can hope to achieve.

Estimating and quoting is a tiresome and expensive overhead, all you can do is streamline it as much as possible.

First up, do you use software to measure your jobs? Some packages are expensive and none of them perfect but being able to handle all the documents digitally does speed up the process.

You also need to build up a “library” of per metre costs, either through historical job cost analysis of your own jobs, or industry publications that can give you “indicative” or average rates for the industry, these are available for all sectors including renovations and extensions.

If you’ve got these you can compare your own “actual” costs against what the “average” rate for your sector is and adjust accordingly.

Once you have all this, it should be fairly quick to turn out a realistic “budget” price…not a hard quote.

Give your potential client a realistic budget quickly, and the “tyre kickers” will fade away fast, genuine ones may proceed to a full quote…the industry is full of dickheads trying to get something for nothing or under the odds…worse still is if an Architect (who usually doesn’t care) has given them an unrealistic idea of what their latest fantasy can be built for.

Experience helps, I’ve worked with residential extension and reno specialists that could price work over $250K within 5% just looking at a drawing over coffee.

I still do “single trade” take offs for a couple of clients (commercial subcontractors) who work on contracts up to about a $million…typical would be $250K…they only expect to win maybe 1 in 4 in the open market, and when they do win one the first question they ask is “what did I miss”. Ask them how expensive and time consuming quoting is.

The old saying “practise makes perfect” holds true imo…the only other option as I see it is to only work “cost plus”…you’ll still need a reputation as being able to predict reasonable budgets, or deliver such exceptional work that cost is irrelevant (a VERY niche market).

Good luck with it.

Edit: Ha Ha, just realised I opened my mouth in the original thread…not too sure if there’s any new insights in this post, but good luck with it anyway…if you DO find a simple solution, get in touch, I think I can make us both wealthy :)