Client needs often change during a job, and it’s not unusual for a project to grow once clients have seen the positive changes in their homes. But as the size of the job increases, so should the fee…
Cover the details
Overlooking any aspect of a job at the planning stage can cost you money later, so have a thorough scope of work as part of your client agreement, which you and your client can refer back to throughout the job. Be specific about paints (right down to colour codes and costs), the number of coats, preparation work and the areas to be covered. If a client asks for something extra then you can easily explain the price difference and change the fee.
Balance the benefits
Anything beyond your original scope of work should really mean an increase in your fee. A small favour, like a little unplanned sanding to prepare woodwork, can help build a strong client relationship. But it’s important that clients value your professional time, and any extra hours on a job should generally be charged for.
Avoid big surprises for the client by highlighting any requests that go beyond the original agreement. A larger-than-expected bill can cause disputes, but if you explain that something will cost more before doing the work, it can fix these problems before they begin. Follow up any conversations with a polite email explaining exactly how much the extra work will add to the bill, and ask them to agree by email.
Stand by your scope
If a client feels that the extra work should be included in your fee, refer to the original scope of work. This is where that extra detail will help. Anything beyond that scope should cost more and, if it’s big enough, can be quoted for separately.
Know when to call it a day
The last resort, of course, is to pull out of a job. If your client’s extra demands become unreasonable, then don’t be afraid to do so. On those rare occasions, it’s important to have split invoicing in place and have some money from the client in advance, so your losses are minimised.