I hired a contractor for a very-short term programming gig. But he claimed that he took extra time in doing it. And wanted a bonus.

When it came time to pay, I got an email reading :

Can you please tell me how much to bill you for this project (including the bonus)? I hope you are completely satisfied.

This bugged me some, because I wanted him to give me the bill amount.

I decided to guesstimate some amount, including a bonus. And later regretted that decision (I feel I overpaid him).

How do you deal with contractors who want bonuses?

  • 4
    Did he do more than what the scope originally specified? It doesn't matter if it took extra time if he only met the scope, that's called "doing your job." If he estimated incorrectly, that's their problem and certainly do not earn a bonus for doing what you hired them to do and it takes longer than they quoted.
    – Jane S
    Jul 12 '15 at 5:08
  • 1
    @JaneS - Good point.. no , he didn't do more than scope. Hmm, lesson learned , thanks ! Jul 12 '15 at 5:21
  • 3
    Next lesson - get a quote from them beforehand and make sure your scope is clear and documented. :)
    – Jane S
    Jul 12 '15 at 5:22

Short answer: Nobody should receive a bonus for only doing what they were being paid for in the first place.

If he only did what was specified (as per the comments) and it took him longer than he thought, that's actually his problem. It's called "doing your job".

Make sure in future that you get a clearly defined, written agreed scope and a quote from him before he commences work. If there is a variation to that because the scope has increased, get him to quote for that separately.

Oh, and unless there is any special skill or reason you are hiring this person, I'd also strongly recommend getting multiple quotes (including estimated effort) from different people for the job. That should give you some sort of baseline to work with for costs.

  • 3
    If it's not a task that is well-enough defined to be estimated, you can hire a contractor by the hour or in stages -- but again that should be defined in advance. The root of contractor is contract; write one before work starts.
    – keshlam
    Jul 12 '15 at 5:56
  • 1
    @keshlam Totally agree. Set your budget before you start, and at least get an estimate of how much effort is involved. You can then evaluate how to proceed if there are issues raised through the job by either reducing scope or pay the extra.
    – Jane S
    Jul 12 '15 at 10:11
  • Rubbish -- it is completely impossible to accurately estimate and quote a software development project, so the industry doesn't bother any more. Contractors work on a time and materials basis. If you try to impose these rules on me I'd just no take the work -- and I'm exactly the sort of person you'd want working on your project (you'd have to trust me on that, sorry). You'll end up with people who don't understand what they're doing. The reason we estimate, rather than "quote" is because requirements are 'always' very poor. As for costing scope changes, it often takes longer than the coding. Mar 31 '16 at 23:09

I've had the same issue when I needed some web development that the developer said he had spent a lot more hours than he thought it would take.

We wrote an article for what to ask contractors in the construction business to hopefully help people not end up in a situation like yours. http://contractorquotes.us/questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-contractor/

I perfectly understand how no one wants to be too selfish and underpay, but having talked everything over before starting the job, it'll save a lot of headaches.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site Thomas. While you disclosed your affiliation with the linked site, I'd suggest expanding on your answer as you don't address the OP's core question. As it stands your answer will probably get flagged as spam.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 24 '15 at 15:45

To figure out what to pay, take a look on job sites that list hourly/daily rates for contractors and offer to pay that on a time and materials basis. As the project progresses, get progress reports from the contractor (it's best to ask for them to produce a minimal shippable product every couple of days/weeks). Most contractors are honest and they'll do their best work in anticipation of further work and/or a good reference, so as long as you trust them you'll end up paying an average price for the work you want done.

Alternatively, just pay a contractor to assess your requirements and to write a technical specification and provide an estimate, in days, of the effort required to do the work. Then advertise the position at an average rate for that many days, plus/minus 20%.

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