Quote or Estimate?

Quote or Estimate?

We spend a good deal of time writing estimates or quotes for potential customers.
However, there can be a lot of confusion between the two.

Contrary to what you might think, there is a world of difference between providing a quote and giving an estimate.

For small businesses which provide any kind of service (rather than a set price product as shops do) providing customers with an idea of what they can expect to pay for a particular job is a fact of life.

It can be a time-consuming, thankless job 

What’s the difference between an estimate and a quote?

The first thing to understand about quotes and estimates is that they are NOT just two different names for the same thing.  Estimates and quotes each have distinct uses, benefits & disadvantages. Knowing these is key to avoiding problems that can cost you time, customer goodwill, and even money.

Let’s look at estimates, first:

What’s an Estimate?

An estimate is basically a ‘guesstimate’ or rough, educated guess based on what a job MAY cost. Often it is supplied either before you know all the details of a particular piece of work (such as during an initial call from a prospective new customer) or during a site visit.

Estimates are your first thoughts on costs and can change drastically when you get further information when unexpected complications crop up during the work or the scope of what you have been asked to do increases.

What’s a Quote?

A quote (or quotation) is an exact price for the job being offered. As such it is fixed and CANNOT be changed once it has been accepted by the customer (unless the customer changes the amount/type of work required or you discover something completely outside of the scope of what was agreed).

Quotes are only issued after an onsite visit or where you are confident that you have established exactly what is needed.

Understandably, quotes give customers peace of mind; safe in the knowledge that they know exactly how much the work will cost before the job begins.

Estimate or Quote? Key Points to remember…

·         Estimates are a rough idea of price. They should be used as an initial GUIDE PRICE ONLY.

·         Quotes are legally binding and should ONLY be used when you are certain of the costs involved.

For more information please get in touch

Plumbing things that make my life easier.

Plumbing things that make my life easier.

  1. Have an outside tap where the water is blended so I can clean the mud off our dogs and
    make it an enjoyable experience for them.
  2. Water butts on every downpipe I can muster – as we have a large garden, it means in the
    summer I do not have to go far to water the borders.
  3. To keep my taps and shower working well, I use limescale removal spray every week, in
    In my opinion, Viakal is the best.
  4. A heating control that I can program so it comes on without me having to switch it on and
    I can turn it off completely during the summer months. Thermostatic radiator valves on all
    radiators so we can turn the heat right down in the spare room when it is not being used.
  5. A really tall towel radiator in the bathroom – at one time we had 5 adults in the house, and
    this meant all the towels could dry easily. And I will not go cheap when it comes to rads – I
    love Stelrad and the towel radiator has been in the bathroom now for 10 years and looks as
    sturdy and shiny as it did on its first day.
  6. Our house was built in the 1960s and downstairs there were only ever two small radiators,
    so when we re-decorated we bought a much larger horizontal radiator for the lounge and
    invested in a Stelrad double vertical radiator for the lounge – and I LOVE it. Heats the
    hallway and stairwell easily, please ease those aches and pains if you stand against it!
How to Thaw a Frozen CondensatePipe

How to Thaw a Frozen Condensate

Freezing cold weather can wreak havoc with your heating system. One common problem that we see time and time again is a frozen condensate pipe. The condensate pipe leads waste water away from the boiler and down a drain. Most are fitted internally but, in some cases, they have to be fitted outside, which can cause the pipe to freeze.

What is a condensate pipe?

Condensate pipes are found on condensing boilers. If you’ve had a new boiler fitted since April 2005, then your boiler will be condensing (this is when condensing boiler regulations were introduced).
Anyway, the job of the condensate pipe is to move wastewater away from the boiler and down a drain. This wastewater is acidic and is made as the boiler recycles heat from the flue gases. This increases efficiency and is why all new boiler installations must be condensed.

Why do condensate pipes freeze?

Outdoor condensate pipes are exposed to cold temperatures during the winter. This can cause the water in the pipe to freeze and form a blockage. At this point, the boiler will lock out to stop wastewater from building up and flooding. To help prevent the condensate pipe from freezing, the Heating & Hot water Industry Council (HHIC) advises running the boiler at a higher temperature. This will lower the amount of condensation that forms, reducing the chances of the pipe freezing. However, this does mean that the radiators will be hotter and you’ll be paying more for the heating, so remember to turn the boiler thermostat down after the extremely cold weather has passed.

Finding the condensate pipe

The condensate pipe is the only plastic pipe at the bottom of your boiler. The others are all metal so finding the condensate pipe shouldn’t be too much trouble. This pipe will lead outside and come out of the wall fairly low down, right above a drain.

Spotting a frozen condensate pipe

Before thawing a frozen condensate pipe, you need to ensure that’s the cause of the fault. In many cases, your boiler will display an error code. But if your boiler doesn’t, then it can often be recognised by a gurgling noise coming from your heating system. If your boiler has been working well up until a period of below-freezing temperatures, then that’s a strong sign that the condensate pipe has

How do I thaw a condensate pipe?

If your condensate pipe has frozen, don’t worry. It can be sorted in a few steps without having to contact a heating engineer. Before you start, find the blocked part of the pipe. That way, you know
you’re thawing out the right part of the pipe. Most blockages happen if there’s a bend or dip in the pipe.
Once you’ve located the blockage, there are several ways that you can unfreeze the condensate pipe:
Hold a hot water bottle, microwaveable heating pack, or warm cloth around the frozen part of the pipe.
Pour hot water over the frozen part using a watering can – don’t use boiling water as it could cause the plastic pipe to melt. Watch out for any water on the floor as it can quickly freeze.

After unfreezing the pipe, you might need to reset the boiler to get it going again. Some boilers will do this automatically so it’s best to take a look in your boiler’s manual for the next steps. If you have any doubts or don’t feel confident enough to unfreeze the condensate pipe yourself, then you should call Christy Plumbing at 01234 325620.

How to prevent a frozen condensate pipe

There are a few ways to help prevent your condensate pipe from freezing over in the first place. Take the following steps into account as we enter the colder months:
 Use foam pipe insulation to cover the condensate pipe.
 Leave your heating on overnight to keep the condensate pipe warm;
 Turn the thermostat up to a higher temperature to reduce the
amount of condensate (but watch out for hot radiators).

Boiler condensate pipe insulation

By insulating the condensate pipe, it will help to prevent it from freezing. This can be done yourself and condensate freeze protection kits are available, but you can always contact Christy Plumbing to carry out the insulation.

Frozen condensate pipe error codes

Several boilers will display an error code when the condensate pipe has frozen to make you aware of the issue. Use the table below to find out the error code your boiler will display.

If your boiler manufacturer isn’t listed above, look in the boiler manual or Christy Plumbing to check things over.

To save on a call-out charge, during times of below-freezing weather, your modern condensing boiler may have a frozen condensate pipe. Below please find notes on how to defrost your condensate pipes. Remember to keep safe while doing it.

Try these video tips relevant to your boiler manufacturer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlb_3I61wu0  Ideal Boilers
https://youtu.be/UF4deX65Ors Worcester Bosch
https://youtu.be/6hM-gZb88a4  Viessmann
https://youtu.be/FcWsCAs7XXY  Baxi Potterton
If this does not work call us on 01234 325620. There will be a charge for any visits.

You may think it is cheaper to provide the materials yourself, but it is not – therefore…

Homeowners do not realise the problems that can occur when doing the simplest of projects. When things go wrong, as they do on most projects, both the homeowner and the contractor lose. For the homeowner, the money they save is eaten up by having to pay for the additional labour the contractor incurred. The contractor might have a tough time collecting payment for the extra hours incurred because the homeowner is unhappy, and they run the risk of damaging materials that someone else purchased (like cutting the base of a cabinet to accommodate plumbing pipes).

We charge up to 20% on materials and consumables we supply, and we understand that owners want to know why we need to charge a markup on the materials. Owners believe that they will save money if they buy their own materials and just hire a contractor to install them. Owners may have shopped around and are convinced they know exactly what they want and where to get it. They found the store or warehouse with the best prices, and they know exactly where and how they want it installed. They have heard (or they know!) that contractors are pirates. They figure if they supply the materials, they will not have to worry about you tacking overhead and profit on those materials. How hard can it be to find a part for a toilet? It is also fuelled by suppliers who encourage owners to buy their own materials. They would rather make the sale to the customer standing in front of them than hope the contractor will come back to buy from them.

That is why homeowners want to purchase their own materials. Now let us look at what they expect from their contractor. They will furnish the materials, and the contractor will not only install them but also guarantee them. They expect the contractor to install them in a good and skillful manner, regardless of the kind or quality of the materials supplied. Additionally, if their materials do not fit or look right, the contractor will need to tear them out at the contractor’s expense and put in new materials the owner will furnish as soon as they can get them to the job site. The Contractor will be expected to just shut down the job while they wait.

If, during the tear out of the owner’s materials, the contractor damages something, the contractor will be expected to fix or replace the damaged item at their expense. Sometimes the contractor will be expected to give a credit off the final bill because of the aggravation caused to the owner. Or worse, they will decide the contractor cannot be trusted so they order the contractor off the job and hire a “competent” contractor to finish it. The contractor will be expected to pay the difference and get poor reviews on social media. These scenarios may seem laughable but over 35 years we have been down this road many times. We do feel that potential clients need to be educated on what their responsibilities will be when they furnish their own materials.

If there are any problems with the materials you purchase, you will be responsible for not only replacing those materials, but also any surrounding or attached parts that might have been damaged or destroyed. Additionally, you will pay more than twice for the labour; you will pay for the first install, for the removal of the first install, then for the second install. All the risk regarding the materials is the owner’s. If there are delays on the works due to items not arriving or coming damaged, you will need to pay the contractor for loss of earnings. Anything to do with warranties or guarantees with the products you supply will be your problem to sort out.
If clients want a labour only job then why not just go down to the job centre and find a plumber there? But no, the client wants YOUR labour because you are the one with training, qualifications and a good reputation. And for all that experience they still want to pay you like the babysitter or ask you to work for cash and knock off the VAT which is illegal.

If the contractor provides both the labour and the materials for the job and guarantee it as they should or as required by the manufacturer, any expense for repair or replacement is the contractors.
Owners need to know the time that will be involved in getting all the parts together. However, owners think that “supplying all the materials” means telling you where they can buy the materials. And do they really mean ‘all the materials’ how about the screws, the silicone, the plaster? Clients tend to mean the big-ticket items and not the essentials and are looking for the contractor to bear the cost of those.

The client must get the parts, bring them to the work area, haul them upstairs or through tight places without damaging anything, check for missing or damaged parts, get them returned and replaced without holding up the job. If the contractor must be cancelled, you may be charged for this aborted work and find it difficult to get the contractor back within a good timeframe due to other work commitments.

Invariably when the owner supplies the materials it ends up costing them more and puts everyone in risk of a job dispute. If the materials supplied by the owner are of inadequate quality, and then cause damage to the property, the owner needs to claim off their insurance, resulting in increased premiums.

Any mark up on materials a contractor makes covers things like; insurance, staff training, paying someone to answer the telephone, vehicles, tools and so on. If a client really wants to pay labour only, they still expecting that labour costs to include the purchase and use of tools and consumables. So, it is not really labour only ever, is it?

Food for thought.

Where do company names come from?

Where do company names come from?

Our company name may come from it being our surname, Christy. But
where do other (more famous) company names come from?

Samsung – meaning “three stars” in Korean.
Coca-Cola – derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavouring.
Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the ‘K’ of kola to ‘C’ to
make the name look better.
Pepsi – named from the digestive enzyme pepsin.
Häagen-Dazs – the name was invented in 1961 by ice-cream makers Reuben
and Rose Mattus of the Bronx “to convey an aura of the old-world traditions
and craftsmanship”. The name has no meaning.
Hotmail – Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail via the web
from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with
the business plan for the mail service he tried all kinds of names ending in
‘mail’ and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters “HTML” – the
markup language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as
HoTMaiL with a selective upper casing.
Apple – for the favourite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs and/or for the time he worked
at an apple orchard, and to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable,
complicated imagery created by other computer companies at the time – which had
names such as IBM, DEC, and Cincom
Google – originally an accidental misspelling of the word "googol" settled upon because
google.com was unregistered. Googol was proposed to reflect the companies mission to
organize the immense amount of information available online.
Nokia – started as a wood-pulp mill, the company expanded into producing rubber
products in the Finnish town of Nokia. The company later adopted the town’s name.