We are currently negotiating with a 6th possible programming contractor for Goldenseal Pro, in a 5th country. So far they have all gone something like this (spread out over a week or 2):
- Contractor: We can do the work for $xxxx.
- Turtlesoft: OK, let’s talk details.
- Contractor: Great! Our hourly rate is $xxx.
- Turtlesoft: Um, what about that $xxxx quote?
- Contractor: If you pay us for 40 hours of work at $xxx, we can give you a fixed price estimate. But, wouldn’t you like to do it hourly instead? It’s really much better to do it hourly. Really.
- Turtlesoft: No, we don’t know you well enough to do hourly, and would like a fixed price quote please. What do you need from us to make that happen?
- Contractor: (disappears)
Back when we were Turtle Creek Carpentry, we started off doing time and materials work, but gradually discovered that bidding was more profitable (on average). I think the basic idea is that any project is risky, and someone has to bear the risk. In theory, it probably ought to be whoever has more experience and knowledge about the work. They’ve done it before, and can calculate the costs better.
On the other hand, every construction contractor probably has horror stories of free estimates gone awry. Bad math, or nice drawings and calculations that are handed over to someone else who does it cheaper. Free-estimating anxiety is why we first wrote estimating spreadsheets back in 1986, and why MacNail, BidMagic and Goldenseal have been popular since then.
Anyhow, we are still looking. If we don’t have a contractor lined up by February, we will start the work in-house.