What to do if You Have Underpriced a Decorating Job

Updated Jun 24, 2024 | Posted Feb 21, 2019 | Business | 0 comments

What does a self-employed decorator do if he or she finds they have under-priced a decorating job after the job has started? What would you do? Do you stick to the original quote, or ask for more money? We asked professional decorators from a well-known forum that very question. This is what they came back with…

If you’ve agreed a price with a client and there’s no extra work, then that’s the price! You can’t start asking for more money because you’ve made a mistake. It wouldn’t be fair.

Mike Gregory

If you’d overpriced a job, would you give some money back? You win some, you lose some. Just don’t make the same mistake next time you quote a job.

Phil Dawe

Just talk to the client and tell them you’ve underpriced the job. They’re not obligated to pay you any more, but everyone makes mistakes every now and again. Some customers will be understanding.

Joe Sharp


Is the customer happy? Are you going to get more work off them or if they recommend you to others? If so I’d go the extra mile and keep to her budget. Just finish the decorating job and move on.

Pete Clark

I did it recently, I sat down with the customer & explainied what & where the funds go.. I got the extra money. Be nice, good communication will go a long way.

Peter Whiter

Happened to me last week , I bit the bullett , Swings and roundabouts. my reputation is more important than a little bit of profit on a job. It’s my fault for underpricing it in the first place.

Philip Bennett

Be honest worst case scenario they hold you to it

Best case they pay up.

Andrew Jeffrey

We’ve all done it more than we care to admit. The only option is to do what is on your quote for the price on it. Life is a learning curve and an education unfortunately usually comes at an expense.

Bill White

You treat it as an advertisement for how professional you are by completing it to a high standard. You’re in it for the long game so it’s money well spent!

Phill McKevitt

Price is the price sure you’ll claw it back again on another job.

Andrew Anderson

When the going gets tough the tough get rough

Chris Millward

Swallow it, if you’d over priced and got it finished early would you charge them less?

Darren Walpole

Steal little things like knives and forks whatever will go noticed to try and get a bit back (this is a joke)

Lee Thornton

Take it as a learning curve, you can’t win them all

Powell Ash

You win some u lose some

Warren Hoadly

That’s life we have all done it learn from it

Ian Powell

Take it on the chin

Pretty sure most have done so, I know I have

Paul Brown

Just finished a job that took me 10 weeks instead of the 7 I first estimated ……. had to stick to the quote of course …. but it felt like I was working for nothing for the last 3 …….. AND I WAS !!!

David Brucass

By delivering what you promised and learning never to under estimate again

Danny Paul Gardner

An estimate price can go up or down a bit Quote fix price

Alan Shorney

Do it for the price you said, simple as that really. It’s a bastard but part and parcel

Graham Taylor

Sometimes you just have to suck it up … Hopefully karma will help you out in the future.

If you finish a job early, do you give them money back?

It sucks though

Neil Richings

I’m sure most of us on here have been hit worse than that on a job. Just add the deficit onto your next job, it all works out in the end.

David Anderson - What Do You Do If You Find You Have Underpriced A Decorating Job?

Suck it up. Everyone messes up at some point. Best way of learning

Steven Markey

Have a word with the customer. Most people are ok with things not working out as planned.

Steve Peters

An estimate is a rough guess . A quotation is a fixed price .

I’d suck it up tbh if it’s assumed the estimate is a fixed price by the client

Chris Cartin

Actually look at it as though you’ve paid to receive a very important lesson


Have Underpriced A Decorating Job

Paul Helmn


So, I think I’ve massively underpriced a decorating job. I only started my decorating business recently and I really wanted this property to add to my portfolio. When I went to have a look there were no skirts etc on, doors were getting refurbished, fresh plaster etc. I really wish I’d seen it completed before putting pricing the job.

I’ve spent days preparing which I didn’t account for. I wanted it to look right! What do I do 🙄, I’m now behind on completion date, bathroom was full of grout on the walls too (not pictured).

There’s more too!! I hadn’t priced to be sanding down someone else’s shocking filling. The new skirts and arcs etc have millions of nail holes too, why can’t joiners do their jobs properly?? Even the plastering is shocking!

Turned up after the weekend to an extra door and frame that wasn’t mentioned when pricing. Ceilings in the hall haven’t been plastered. I’ve also under-priced on materials and it’s already cost me, and now more is needed. Do I just have to accept I fudged up?!

Before anyone says you can’t tell, to say I’m panicking is an understatement. I’m pretty much working my a*se off for nothing and missing out on summer with the kids. 😢. Sorry for the rant just taking the absolute p*ss 😩. Under-pricing a decorating job is the worst mistake I’ve made since being in business.

Being self-employed is turning out to be very hard work. At least when I was employed, I knew what hours I was going to be working. My wage was my wage and I got to spend more time with a family.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Cashflow is already tight.

Updated Jun 24, 2024 | Posted Feb 21, 2019 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


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