I have a web design project that for various reasons was never completed (i.e the client never received any final files, the contract was cancelled and is very unlikely to be restarted). The project was however quite extensive and a significant way to being completed. (To the point that the site had been built in WordPress with a number of custom post types and other custom functionality, and integrated with 2 external APIs.)

I now have a client who wants an almost identical project. With regards to design, the branding is obviously different but with a very similar style and the site structure would be almost identical so a very large proportion of the previous project could be reused and design and development time would be drastically cut.

Assuming I want to reuse the old project for this new client - How should I approach this with the client and how should I charge for the work?

The way I see it, I have a few options:

  1. I am completely honest with the client and explain the situation. I charge based only on the amount of new work done (or at least close to this). This would be the best option from the clients perspective, but not very beneficial for me.

  2. I am completely honest with the client but charge for the full project, as if starting from scratch. The risk with this is the client may not like the idea of getting second hand work without any cost benifits, I could lose the contract, not get any use out of the previous work and possibly make a bad impression on the client.

  3. I use the previous work without telling the client and charge as if starting from scratch. This would be the most beneficial for me. My only problem is it feels a bit dishonest and unfair on the client.

I don't think using the previous work without telling the client and charging a reduced rate is an option. I would either have to come up with a fake reason for discounting the price, which feels just as dishonest, or I set an expectation for lower prices in the future.

So how do I proceed?

1 Answer 1


For clients where you have an established relationship and the trust is mutual between both parties, option 2 could be a beneficial outcome to both parties as 1) the project timeline can be compressed (by using the existing work) and 2) the other party believes in the value they will get from that existing work (willing to pay for that efficiency). Basically there exists a benefit to both parties in sharing and using that information. Notice that I don't think a discount should apply as the client trusts you and believes in the value of the efficiency gain.

Otherwise option 3 is correct - the client is hiring and paying you for your expertise and skill, not for "existing work" or assets that already exist. Similarly, you don't particularly care whether the client is paying via credit card or debit card or cash (and you don't particularly care whether the money is coming from a business account or personal account) - just as long as you get paid for your work. The client wants a service rendered - you're providing that service. The client shouldn't care that you have existing tools or assets to make providing that service more efficient. I suppose if you charge by the hour, you could reduce your estimated hours to provide a "hidden" discount based on these efficiencies if it makes you feel better.

Again, the client is paying for your expertise and skill - and you should not be feel bad charging for that even when you have tools and resources that may make this particular project more efficient than normal.

Ultimately, this is a business decision that you'll just have to make based on what makes sense, what gets you fairly compensated for your work, what leaves you feeling good about your work, and, if possible, making the client happy (although sometimes you just got to fire the client because the business relationship just isn't working).

  • 2
    +1 @bemdesign. Also, CAI, you should consider that you had to do the previous work in the first place and were not paid for it. You can license the work as you see fit (i.e. there is no stipulation to turn over the copyright for the work to anyone until the job is done). I don't know about you, but I devise templates for certain jobs that help me in other projects; this speeds up my work...
    – Paul
    Jan 18, 2016 at 9:17

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