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Perceptions of value

… and what to look for in a quotation

When you buy something, and you may not be aware of this, three factors are streaming through your head all at the same time: What is the price, what is the value (good or bad) and what is the benefit. Annoying people will offer unsolicited advice: Do you really want to spend that much? Think about the cost/benefit! Both of which are related to value. Like so:

If the cost is high compared with the benefit, you are getting a poor deal. Conversely, if the cost is low in proportion to the benefit, you get good value. So, how do you define benefit?

Benefit is like beauty: it is in the eye (or mind) of the beholder. It could have something to do with quality, aesthetics, durability, utility, investment, pleasure and a whole lot more. It depends on what is being sold AND the buyers perception of the benefit.

For example, take (or rather buy) a top-of-the-range Mercedes. Drive it out of the forecourt and it loses 25% of its value before you can blink. Where is the benefit in that? Brand loyalty comes into play as well as prestige, pride, personality, performance … any of these benefits can overcome the shortcomings of that depreciation. Investment is not one of them.

What about the art world? Let’s say a Van Gogh fetches £80 million at auction; there are several bidders driving up the price. What is the benefit to the buyer who has overbid to secure the item? Investment value, for sure, but that is not all. Privilege, passion, possession, provenance – they are all there in some measure.

You get the picture?

Now let’s think about something closer to home: a new floor.

Most people have no idea about what a new floor costs and, therefore, find it hard to gauge value. So, where to begin?

  1. Finding a flooring fitter to trust.
    The first thing is find someone who you can trust to do a good job. There are five possible paths to take:
    • Go to a hardwood floor supplier. The Natural Wood Flooring Company in Wandsworth is a good place to start. They have plenty of variety of woods but they do not fit floors. They will, however, give you the names of their preferred fitters.
    • Search the web for floor fitters. You will find plenty of them in London and some websites are better than others. You will be looking for a company to trust in terms of honesty, experience, expertise and, of course, portfolio. Usually, the more detail there is, the better. But make your choice in order to get a quote. There’s no need for a decision at this stage.
    • log on to a review website such as Google or Trust pilot and search “floor fitters”. Read the testimonials, follow the stars then click on the links to the websites. You will be on much firmer ground.
    • Get a recommendation from a friend. Top idea! If you can, have a close look at your friend’s floor and check the fitting especially where the floor meets the wall, the doorway (especially the door jamb) and the staircase. Or how neatly the floor gets round radiator pipes (always a telling test).
    • Ask your builder. Not often a good idea. Builders in general do not have the tools or the experience to finish a job properly. Floor fitting is a specialist craft. You will want to avoid the botched attempt to be rescued at by the fitter you were looking for in the first place. A really good builder (Redline Building Services, for example) will subcontract an experienced floor fitter and, thereby, enhance his own reputation.
  1. The survey.
    If the fitter offers a quotation on the telephone, cross him off your list. This is a sure way to trouble. A good fitter will make a thorough survey, talk to you about your ideas, ask if you will be in residence during the fitting (it is a much quicker operation if you are not). Allow your instincts trust the fitter. Remember the name that gave you the greatest confidence.
  1. The quotation.
    Remember, a well-fitted floor that is looked after can last 30 years and more. So be sure to pick the fitter that’s going to do the perfect job, and, consequently, offering the best value. It could be the lowest quote but not always.


Here is what to look for in a quotation:

  1. Detail. The more detail there is, the more you can trust the figures. The less detail the easier it is to fudge the invoice. Remember the Latin phrase enshrined in Contract Law: Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware.
  1. Make sure the details of the wood type, design, colour and finish are as you previously discussed. This is an opportunity for a rogue to cut corners.
  2. Make sure the costs are fully broken down. If you do not understand something, ask for clarification. A trustworthy fitter will appreciate the question; a dodgy one will be evasive.
  3. Sometimes it is not possible to complete the survey without damaging some part of the fabric of the building. The quote should point this out and accompany it with an estimate to be confirmed after the job has started.
  4. Check how long the project will last. Damp and water damages wood, so If a screed underfloor is required, the floor will need to wait until the underfloor of thoroughly dry. Depending on the time of year and the weather, this could be up to a couple of months. You will want to know about this in advance.
  5. Check the terms of business. They must be written (email is fine) so you have a record. It is common to be asked for a deposit; just make sure it is fair to you and the fitter.


Now check if the person or company that gave you the most confidence when you met at the survey stage. Chances are it’s the same name!

And there you have it! Never judge a quotation by the cost. Always look for value . Get these right and you will reap the benefits in the long term.