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Re: Initial Estimate vs Actual time logged in hourly contracts

Active Member
Andrei P Member Since: Nov 29, 2017
1 of 7

I have a contractor that gave me an initial estimate of 10 hours. After logging 40 hours, he is still nowhere close to finish. What should I do?

Community Guru
Katrina B Member Since: Jan 9, 2011
2 of 7

First thing you should pause the contract.


Have you talked to the freelancer about this?  Does the freelancer offer you an explaination?  That's a pretty big discrepency from 10 to 40 and still not done. It's always best to communicate your concern with the freelance. You can dispute hours (if still in review) but only if the freelancer is not working on your project in the screen shots.  I would definitely pause the contract so no more hours can be logged while you figure this out. 

"Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn't mean treating everyone alike-Coach John Wooden"
Community Manager
Valeria K Community Manager Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
3 of 7

Hi Andrei,


In addition to advice Katrina shared, you can also set a weekly limit for your hourly contract and the freelancer won't be able to bill you for more hours than was agreed.

~ Valeria
Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
4 of 7

@Valeria K wrote:

Hi Andrei,


In addition to advice Katrina shared, you can also set a weekly limit for your hourly contract and the freelancer won't be able to bill you for more hours than was agreed.

Be advised this limit is WEEKLY, though, not a limit on the total hours on the contract. The limit resets on Sunday night each week.

Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
5 of 7

As a freelancer (albeit a fairly new one) I would be mortified at the thought of logging so many hours more than I'd estimated. I would contact my client as soon as I realised the work was going to take significantly longer than estimated, explaining the reasons and asking whether the client still wanted me to continue.


Unfortunately some freelancers abuse the hourly system. One of my clients explained that the reason he was setting a low limit on my hours was because he'd had problems of this sort in the past.


Of course, it may be that 10 hours was an unrealistic estimate in the first place. Did other freelancers give you different estimates?


As far as your current predicament is concerned, I don't think there's much you can do except pause the contract while you assess the situation and then decide whether to continue with that freelancer or find another one. If necessary you could hire another freelancer to assess the work done so far. Also, make sure you have an up-to-date copy of the code already written.

Ace Contributor
David P Member Since: Nov 18, 2015
6 of 7

I'd add to this: the freelancer you hire for this review should be someone who is more senior in the same field.  For example, if this is a software development job, hire a senior software architect to review your freelancer's work.


I used to be a developer, and it was common for bug fixes to take however long they took.  Debugging involves solving a problem where you don't know how hard the problem is (or how long a solution will take) when you start.  So a lot of the freelance developers I talk to are not ok with working at a fixed price.  As a UX consultant now, I initially only wanted to work hourly, but more of my work now is at a fixed price.


I don't know if that's the situation you and your freelancer are encountering.  But in general, having a paid roadmapping/estimation phase at the beginning should help.  Keep in mind that most software engineers and developers are notoriously optimistic with estimation.  If you think that's the case, then mentally, you should double however much time they say.


There are also some freelancers who start a contract and continue to let the clock run, whether they're working or not.  Upwork's Activity Log protects you there for most types of work.

Community Guru
Prashant P Member Since: Sep 29, 2015
7 of 7

Well you do not know the full story.  I agree with setting up a weekly limit or some other controls.  But clients think that the estimate is a hard number.  I had a client and  I had estimated 6 hours, and it took 8 hours.  She started complaining.  And the fact is on this small job we spent about 3 hours 'communicating' also she would go and make changes herself.  I had used time tracker for the first time and I really love it.  On hourly contracts I would never go for manual time entry.