Picture this, if you can do it without falling over yourself laughing.
You’ve just paid a contractor a small fortune (or maybe a large one) to remodel your kitchen. After months of labor, the workers finish, clear out the dropcloths, clean everything up, and prepare to hand the house over to you.
You look around at your new kitchen and say “Wow, we love it! But now that we see it all together, we’d really like the granite countertops instead of the marble ones. And that lighter pattern of tile for the floor really would have been better. And I’m not sure about the brass fittings. I think maybe I prefer the stainless after all.”
You wouldn’t say that, because the general contractor would charge you twice as much to rip it out and re-do it as to do it in the first place.
But people seem to think nothing of seeing a website just prior to go-live and asking for equivalent changes.
Ripping out code and rewriting it is more work than writing it in the first place. Even with a versioning system in place so that she can revert to the original code in case you decide to put it all back the way it was, your developer still has to remove the code that made the first version work and add the code that makes the second version work.
You may not need a dumpster or a truck to haul away the debris, but materials, even expensive ones, are not the major reason remodeling your kitchen costs money. You pay the contractors because otherwise you’d just have a stack of materials gathering dust, not a kitchen.
Because you know it’s going to be expensive to make changes after the work is done, you spend a lot of time in the planning stages of your kitchen remodel. You look at paint chips and tile samples and countertops and other people’s kitchens. You have plans drawn up and maybe re-drawn. You make sure that you have all the specs on all the appliances so they’ll fit where you want to put them. You check in at various stages of construction to make sure everything is going the way it’s supposed to.
Even if you’re not a contractor, you have some grasp of what goes into building a kitchen besides the countertops and appliances. You know a kitchen has to have plumbing, electricity, and maybe gas. And you know that if those things have to be moved after they’ve already been installed, the contractor is going to hand you a nice fat change order and your completion date is going to be pushed out. (Slate’s David Plotz once said that the real miracle of the Bible is that the Temple of Jerusalem was completed under budget and on time.)
Guess what? If you request a comprehensive change at a late stage of site development, any developer who wants to avoid bankruptcy is going to land you with a nice fat change order. Your costs will go up and your completion date will be pushed out.
Too many of these requests, and the developer is going to start grumbling about Clients from Hell, whether you pay for the changes or not. She has other client projects to work on that your changes may interfere with, and she’s wondering why the heck you didn’t figure out you wanted this sooner.
I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be a Client from Hell.
But there are still steps you can take to avoid the time and expense (not to mention frustration) of last-minute changes. My recommendations grew too extensive for a single blog post, so I’ve created the How to Avoid Being the Client from Hell series.