It’s difficult comparing estimates. I had to do it remotely once for my Grandmother in California for just a roofing project once and it drove me crazy, it was like comparing Apples & Oranges! I thought it’d be a piece of cake, after all I do this for a living, right?
My experience was, knowing more about what I was talking about only made evaluating each contractor and their proposal even more confusing. I had a real eye opener: “this is what my clients are going through??”
So, I feel your pain.
As a contractor, the only time that I really have to do this is when I am estimating a job for a client that has an insurance claim and the insurance company has sent an adjuster to estimate the project as well.
Over the years, I have developed a technique that works quite well when I have to compare an insurance adjuster’s estimate with mine.
If you can imagine the two estimates usually come in quite far apart price wise, which usually prompts the less “seasoned” adjusters and contractors to call each other “crazy” – basically because each of them are confident that they priced their project very carefully and how could anyone in their right mind be that far off??
So, what I’ve learned to do is sit down with the insurance adjuster and say “let’s put price aside for the moment and just focus on:
1. Scope of work – exactly what work is being performed in each of our estimates.
2. Specifications – to what standards & quantities the work is being performed. (i.e. “install soaking tub” vs. “install 6 ft porcelain on cast iron 89 gal tub”)
3. Selections – what fixtures are being used for plumbing? What fixtures are being used for electrical? What type of tile?
I have found that when the two estimates are lined up with those three things, the prices are almost dead even every time. Therefore, I know in the beginning, if the prices are way off, the two estimates are not pricing the same job (scope, specifications & selections).