The contract was limited in scope to a total of 38 days, split thusly:
5 days in Tennessee working on site.
28 days working at home.
5 days in Tennessee wrapping up and finalizing the work.
The 38 days is a do-not-exceed value, as they have budgetary restrictions. I'm okay with that, but what I really wanted to do was to have a task list and an estimate of those tasks so that they would know that for their money they would get completed tasks. And I know that very often tasks take longer than originally anticipated, so I was willing to give them the benefit of the leeway. So while I was there, we decided on a task list and I worked up an estimate that was actually something like 39 days for all but one freaking huge task.
Well, when I got home after the first 5 days in Tennessee, things went awry, because they had discovered a new bug that needed to be addressed that was a priority above everything else. So I worked on that first, and it took nearly ten days in and of itself. And then there were other little bugs that they needed me to fix. And all of this adds up to quite a bit of nickel-and-dime stuff.
Then there was the quicktime fiasco. 79 hours and I still had nothing working, and I had originally estimated half that. So in my set of ethics, this does not sit well, and I have offered that 79 hour block up as additional no-charge work that I will do on this project to get it going. It kind of wonks the time-and-materials contract paradigm, but if I turn it around and had paid someone to do a buttload of work and they took twice as long to do it and still didn't have it working, I'd be pissed. On the other hand, I have gained a smackload of knowledge about quicktime which is directly useful to me in my line of work, so I have gained. On the other other hand, I made it quite clear to them that I had not worked with quicktime previously and it would take me time to understand it.
At this point, I am at 29.5 billable days at home (based on 8 hour days). Of that, only 17 hours are directly working on tasks that were originally in the statement of work.
In theory, I should be going back to Tennessee this week. I have asked if it was really necessary, because I think I can be more productive here, and it would save me about $500 in traveling and hotel expenses (and no I don't get reimbursed).
In any event, I have only one billable week left on this project and I am out of income.
The good news is that money isn't the huge issue that it has been. We actually have enough right now that I can be out of work for a while before panic sets in again. And I'm thinking definitely nothing until January, possibly February depending on how this project ends.
And yes, I've been keeping the guys in TN apprised. There is no additional money for the contract to extend, and they haven't decided yet whether they want me to come back out to Oak Ridge.
On another note, I had a recruiter call up and ask me if I was willing to relocate for a contract. I told him that it depends: I am willing to relocate temporarily if either my living expenses are paid for or if I get a good rate that makes it worth traveling. He seemed to think that this was presumptious and egotistical on my part. I say Feh.