Estimate or Consultation? What’s the Difference?

estimate or consultation - what's the difference?

If you’re a home or business owner, chances are that you have requested estimates for repairs to your home or building. Estimates are quick, easy and normally provided free of charge. However, if your project involves addressing drainage and/or grading problems, building a retaining wall or excavating for a foundation, you need more than an estimate. You need a consultation with a civil engineer who will ensure that your project is completed as efficiently and safely as possible.

What is an Estimate?

For many home or business projects, the owner defines the project and requests estimates from contractors. The owner provides an informal and often verbal description of the work. This informal description defines the work that needs to be done, such as “repaint my house” or “replace the roof.”  After visiting the site, the contractor can provide an estimate of materials and labor needed for the project. In most cases, estimates come at no charge.

What is a Consultation?

For an excavation, drainage, grading or other major landscape construction, the owner needs to begin with a consultation with an experienced engineer prior to obtaining the estimate. The engineer will define the project and create a scope of work.

  • The engineer will take accurate measurements of the area, determine current drainage, assess the soil and other factors that could affect the project.
  • Next, the engineer develops a plan for the work that needs to be done. This plan includes a project timeline and defines safety parameters to reduce the risk of an accident at your site.
  • When completed, this plan becomes a scope of work, which gives contractors the information needed to provide a cost estimate.

What is a Scope of Work?

The Scope of Work presents all related tasks, duties, and limitations to obtain the expected results of the project in a clear manner. A scope of work (SOW) document usually contains the following components:

Project Overview

A brief statement describing the need for the project and a short project description.

Project Deliverables

This section should include all the expected results that must be achieved through the project. It must include all related information that will help a contractor understand the project’s requirements.

Project Scope

This section should contain, in terms of budget and technical data, the quantifiable goals of the project. Project scopes include:

  1. Technical considerations: Specific technical measurements or methodologies relevant to the contractor’s performance.
  2. Tasks: Specific tasks needed to satisfy project objectives, with detailed milestones and results that should be obtained from these tasks.

Project Schedule

A summary of the project schedule including completion dates for all related tasks and the expected project duration.

Project Management

The management section of the SOW contains a description of:

  • How payments will be issued
  • The change control process
  • Specific contract and legal requirements
  • Stages of the project
  • The project’s limitations.

The scope of work is much more detailed than an estimate and requires the consultation of an engineer. These complex SOWs take time and therefore, normally are not provided free of charge.

Starting with an estimate isn’t enough if you have an excavation, drainage, grading or other major landscape construction project. Contact New England Enterprises to request an expert consultation. With over 25 years of excavation and landscaping experience, New England Enterprises will make sure that your project is done right, from consultation to estimate to completion.