Let your developer know up front how much you have to spend, don’t make them guess. They know what they can build projects for and letting them know up front helps them decide what tools to use and even whether they can afford to take the project or not.
After you give them your budget, but before you commit to the project, ask your developer for references, and then check them. When you talk to the references, ask how close the final bill came to the original estimate. If you get wildly varying numbers then that is a red flag that the developer has trouble estimating.
Know this though, once they have given you a price, you can’t make changes. No “We saw this yesterday and want you to add it in.” or anything of the sort. If you are making them live within a specific budget then you have to live with the agreed upon solution, period, no exceptions, ever.
A good developer will refuse even small changes once the contract has been agreed upon and instead quote you each change as a separate request. This gives you the power because you can then weigh the request against it’s impact on the budget and timeline (it WILL impact both) and decide whether or not a request is worth it. This is not your developer being “money grubbing thieves” as I’ve heard it put. This is them protecting your budget, schedule and their reputation. If your developer concedes to an endless list of what you think are small changes, this should be a red flag. Either they don’t understand the impact of the changes on the project or they grossly over charged you to pad the budget for these changes. Both are signs of a lack of professionalism.
Honor their refusal to make changes and respect it for what it is, professionalism.
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