Q. This is my first experience developing a database. When asking a consultant for an estimate, should I have to pay for this estimate?
A. Let’s break this down into two parts; 1) an estimate and 2) a spec or needs analysis.
For the estimate you should not have to pay anything. It’s just that, an estimate based on what it has taken to complete a similar project in the past. An estimate is usually based on an hourly rate and will usually be given in a range such as $10,000 to $15,000.
A spec or needs analysis, sometimes referred to as a detailed estimate, is a much more involved process and a fee is usually charged. This fee will be based on the amount of time it will take the consultant to work up the spec. This analysis is the blueprint for your project. It’s a fairly detailed plan of how you are going to proceed. And, just because you contract with a consultant to do the spec, you may not want them to complete the project. You can take the spec and do the project yourself or hire another consultant if you were not completely happy. However, the consultant who wrote up the spec probably is now intimate with your project.