How Successful Home Improvement Quotes Happen

What do apples and oranges have to do with interior design, decorating or renovating?

Everything – if you’re requesting quotes.

We recently met with a client ready to redesign the main floor. New furniture, accessories, artwork, lighting, and window treatments for the living, dining and family room. They proposed a reasonable preliminary budget, but opted to follow our research and planning process to flesh out the true costs.

Four weeks later, we had the actual cost for the project! We had quotes for furniture, materials and labour. Once client approved, it was a matter of executing the design concept. Our proposal presentation was a success. We saw eyes light up and heard lots of excited oohs and aahs in the room. The actual product samples and images were a hit.

A few days later, we called the client to ask if they had made a decision. Usually quite talkative and bubbly, she was a little evasive and somewhat shy. She hemmed and hawed but eventually came clean. She had also asked another firm to present.


During our meeting, the client requested a redesign of the main floor rooms. When they met with the other designer, they requested furniture only. One quote was a complete redesign while the other only provided furniture. There was nothing wrong with the quotes. The client had received exactly what she had requested.

Toronto condo lobby with wallpaper and white leather bench.jpeg
Toronto condo lobby with wallpaper and white leather bench, artificial plant and abstract wall art.jpeg

Unfortunately, she was now comparing two very different quotes – thus comparing apples and oranges. The redesign project is now on hold.


We see this with general contractors, as well. Homeowners will ask for quotes. They will take the general contractor on a walk through and verbally provide the scope of work. Between visits, they may come across something they like so, they will add it to the conversation with the next one. Similarly, over dinner, they may agree that some changes aren’t necessary after all.

general contractor measuring flooring for install.jpeg
making a home improvement list for quote.jpeg

From one general contractor to another the items on the scope of work may differ therefore, the quotes will appear wildly different. Human nature is what it is, so the cheaper option will be more appealing. The others were obviously trying to scam the client. Right?



Unless, you provide each general contractor with an identical scope of work, your quotes will be all over the place. There is only one way to resolve this – go back to basics. Start with pen and paper. If you’re tech savvy, use your computer.

Write down everything you want to see happen in your renovation or decorating project. Print multiple copies of this list. Provide it to everyone you interview and expect a quote from. You can request recommendations for things you might not have considered. However, the core requirements will remain the same.

fruit salad with cherries, tomatoes and blackberries.jpeg

There you have it - a couple of techniques to ensure you're comparing apples to apples and not staring at a large bowl of fruit salad.

As always, we're here to help you design spaces unique to you, your character and lifestyle. if you need a little help along the way, don’t hesitate to let us know