Charging for Design Advice: Bill Up-Front or Forget About itcomments (4) September 22nd, 2010 in Blogs
Russellbriss has never had to bid or negotiate a contract. Word of mouth and a handshake have been enough to keep his business prospering. Until now.
After five months of providing advice that "greatly impacted the final design," he asked the customer for payment. It added up to several thousand dollars in unbillable time.
The response? It's all part of the contractor's job.
"I would rather not 'roll' this into the project, padding some phase, as I don't work that way," he writes. "It seems disrespectful of my time and contribution that no compensation is justified in their view."
To make matters worse, Russellbriss' doesn't yet have a contract for the job, which could come in at about $1 million. And the customer says he wants to start in two weeks.
Any suggestions? he asks in his post to the Fine Homebuilding Breaktiime business forum.
So where's the contract?
It's a plus when the builder is part of the design process, says studio513, and there's no question russellbriss should be compensated for his time.
But he probably dropped the ball on this one.
"Presenting a bill for work that has already been done, but without any agreement on what is billable and at what rate doesn't sound good to me," studio says. "If you have been doing business on a handshake basis and it's been working out for you, OK, that's fine. But doesn't the handshake usually involve a discussion of your rates, when bills will be presented, etc, etc?"
When you work without asking for money, why should the client expect anything different?
"As a small bit of 'been there, done that' sort of advice," adds Handydan, "you were asking all the right questions about two months too late. It seemed to me that they were just getting what you were giving them."
Davidmeiland agrees: "A contract is absolutely normal, and in my opinion should have been in place once it became clear that you were going to spend time on design development. Two separate contracts would be OK, one for the design work, probably just an hourly rate, and a separate later contract to cover construction.
"If they are hesitant to start flowing money your way this is a bad sign," he adds. "The money has to start happening."
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