Beware of the “Ball Park” Estimate

Almost every client is interested to know a ball-park estimate of what their project will cost.  Even though I might have a gut feeling of what a project might cost, I am reluctant to share it with the client because it is just that – a feeling, not a detailed estimate based on a clearly defined scope of work.

Ball-park figures almost always lead to disappointment since inaccuracy is practically guaranteed.  What does it include?  What’s not included?  The variables are too vast.  It is crucial to impress upon clients that each project is unique.  It cannot be quickly added up based on an a’ la carte menu.

In addition, it is so easy for a client to get a ball-park figure stuck in their head.  When the real costs are figured and delivered, the client then experiences an initial shock followed by disbelief and either crushed hopes or even anger.

Instead of giving a ball-park estimate when asked, I provide examples of recent projects and their costs.  I can point to a bathroom or kitchen renovation and tell a client the cost of that particular project based on its scale and quality.  That helps give a client an idea of cost without backing myself into a corner by trying to guess the cost of their project on the spot without any specific details.

Trying to guess does no one any favors and in fact ends up causing more confusion than being of any help.  It’s only fair to everyone involved to provide an actual estimate for a specific project scope, leaving much less room for error and uncertainty.

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