Contracts: What’s an Estimate? What’s a Bid?

September 14, 2017

​When it comes to finding a contractor, you should already have an idea of what your budget is. In fact, you should always allow yourself some cushion in your budget for the just in case costs. That being said, once you’re ready to find a contractor, remember, you can always ask for an estimate or a bid. 


​So, what’s the difference between the two? Sometimes we use the two terms interchangeably, however, they do have different meanings. Here’s a quick and simple look at the differences between the two terms:
·      Estimate: the contractor will come to your project site and take a look at what needs to be done. The contractor will then give you a generalized quote on how much it will cost to do the job. The estimate is not a final commitment. Rather, the estimate gives you an idea of what the job might cost you. Also, the estimate is subject to change in price, depending on material costs. If you want a solid number, you probably want to ask your contractor for a final estimate. But that’s more like getting into the territory of a bid. (See next item).
·      Bid: this is a solid number that your contractor will provide you. Often, the bid comes with a concrete cost – which should not change during construction – and a date of completion. This is something you can get from multiple contractors and actually use to your advantage. You can get bids from two or three companies and see which one is better for your budget and needs. Remember, you can also get multiple estimates but those are different. (See above). 

Typically, bids are for folks who have a solid dollar amount they want to spend. An estimate is good if you’re willing to spend a little more down the road for better materials, etc. At the end of the day, getting an estimate is a good way to start looking at what the ball park figure of your project is going to be. Getting a bid is a great way to also lock in your costs.
Now that you know a little more about bids and estimates, let us know if we can provide either for your next shade structure project. For more information. Feel free to contact us at American Awning & Blind Co. by visiting us at Or call us at 800-654-5933. You can also email us at