Spring is here and it’s time to tackle some of those home improvement projects you’ve been putting off over the past few years. Whether it’s updating your kitchen, adding that outdoor living space or finishing your attic, you must find trustworthy and competitive bids from reputable contractors. This can be one of the more confusing and stressful stages of the home renovation process. Everyone seems to attach different meanings here so…. What’s an estimate? What’s a bid? What’s a proposal? What’s a contract? What’s the difference? An estimate is an approximation or rough calculation based on a very general description of a project. This is only an estimate or guess, given at the preliminary stages of a project when plans aren’t yet finalized and ideas are still being tossed around. A bid is an actual cost and commitment based on a more specific description of work to be done. It’s an accurate accounting of costs since it’s typically based on, and budgeted from, a full comprehensive set of plans, specifications, and details of the overall scope of the project. A proposal outlines all the terms and conditions that will be included in the final agreement between all parties with all the stipulated costs outlined and documented in the bid itself. A contract is the binding legal agreement between you and the contractor to do specific work itemized in the bid, for specific compensation – and must be signed by all parties.