Billable Hours - When is it billable?
As a general rule, our production team members' time is billable, and our Support staff's time is non-billable. You should always assume that when you are having a production staff member assist you with something (perform work for you, consult or handle communications) it is billable.
There are some non-custom projects with fixed prices, however. These include the basic setup of an LEC or template site, an initial IDX setup, or a product from our upgrades section. In such cases, the developer's time is not billed by the hour. But their mandate is limited, and they may tell you that your requests fall outside of their project scope.
Breakdown of billable tasks
The following is a breakdown of common billable situations – please do not assume that if something is not listed here, that you will not be billed for labor. (Production staff are 100% billable). Items that incur billable time may include:
- Working on a custom project: This is the most obvious of all the instances during which production staff's labor is billable. If they are working on your custom project, this time is billed to your project. This includes time used for updating previously-ordered custom items that are not working as intended.
- Communication: When you are working with a production team member – if you schedule a call with them or send them an email – then the time taken on the call or to process the information sent by email, and to formulate a response, is billed to your project.
- Processing information: During certain projects it may become necessary to send materials (files and information etc) to your assigned production member. These items must be processed and this time is billed to your project.
- Research: In custom development we often need to research API's, code samples, process reference manuals, etc. The time it takes to perform the research required to complete a custom element is billed to your project.
We build products to be as "turn-key" as possible, but sometimes our clients have special requirements — we're happy to accommodate, but there are some guidelines we must work within:
(These are elaborated upon below.)
- The client is responsible for the risks involved
- The client pays for time, not complete solutions
- Our free support team does not support your custom code
- Estimates are given merely to assist the client in their budgeting effort, and are non-binding
- The client must pay for all time invested into the custom project
- We do a reasonable amount of testing of your customizations, but you (client) are expected to test it, too.
- Real Estate Webmasters is diligent (within reason) about reviewing clients' concerns when custom projects take longer than estimated
Custom development at Real Estate Webmasters is performed with recognition of certain risks, for which the client is responsible.
Sometimes, our custom code will be found to have an issue, some time after the developer is signed off. In such a case, we consider the original order to have been left incomplete, and we are happy to open a new project to finish the work. We do not entertain the notion that the work was "done wrong and should be fixed for free".
Website/IDX technologies are complex and cannot be subject to guarantees without a long period of testing. Since thorough testing of custom projects would pass a much larger bill to the clients (we must get paid for the time required to test), we do an acceptable amount of testing. But this means that some projects come back to the production floor for a bit more work, and there should be no hard feelings (unless you think the developer was somehow remiss – and we are always willing to review that possibility, though it is extremely rare).
Summary: If you paid for a custom project and it doesn't work the way you expected, you are required to pay for any time you request to be invested to make the site/idx work in the way you would like.
The client may have ordered custom work that inadvertently affected a normal (non-custom) function of the website. In such a case, any time requested by the client to restore normal function, is billable at our standard custom rate.
Some Real Estate Webmasters clients have customized their websites to a very large extent. In such cases, they may find that requests to our non-billable Support team are often replied to with the following: "Sorry, but that function of your website is customized to the extent that it would require a custom project to address any of your concerns about it. Support cannot address this for you."
Summary: Extensive customization of your REW site is not recommended unless your budget is flexible.
If you are asking us to integrate 3rd party functionality into your website:
Because the functionality will be at least partially dependent on factors outside of our control, and because 3rd-party software does not always work with our code, we do not guarantee success in your project. Moreover, the feature could break anytime, if something changes on the 3rd-party's side, or if something changes on your REW site to affect compatibility. In other words, by agreeing to this project, you are taking responsibility for the unknown outcome. You agree to pay for any development time we invest into this work, regardless of whether the final product meets your expectations, or even if the work is abandoned (at your request) without a final product.
Summary: We will try to work with 3rd-party code if you are willing to pay for our time, but there are no guarantees of success.
Estimates at REW
We never agree to "fixed bids" for custom work. When we provide an estimate, it is intended as a rough guideline for the client's own budgeting efforts. The following caveat always applies:
When you approve custom development from Real Estate Webmasters, it is with the understanding that the work required may take more time than was estimated. Real Estate Webmasters will not cease the work until the requested objective is completed – we will not stop when we reach the estimated time, unless that has been specifically (and clearly) requested by the client in advance. If your budget does not allow for the project to significantly exceed the time estimated for it, you are advised to refrain from engaging in custom work.