A client came to me with some features he wanted implementing. Easy enough to do what he asked. He paid me, I agreed to start on the start date and finish in 3 weeks.

The code base is a disaster. It was coded by Indian freelancers, who have no apparent knowledge of the language. Admittedly, the client said the developers were just copying and pasting code around the web.

There's over 700 files for a relatively simple site. It's the worst code I've ever worked with. No documentation to go by, just lots of files that I have to manually go through.

Before I can even implement a feature I have to clean up parts of the code, simply because it's not possible to work with what they have done.

I've tried to explain to the client that this isn't "as simple as it should be". I am having to refactor and implement features. I'm severely stressed, the deadline is impossible to meet.

The client is constantly on Skype, asking "are we done yet". I try to explain the problems but he don't understand a thing. I offered to redo his site, no additional charge, because the work I'm putting in now is more work than it would be to redo the site. He refused.

I'm at the point where I'm ready to cut my losses, because the money he paid and the stress involved with dealing with this client isn't worth it. It's affecting personal life. My relationship. I have no personal life, because I'm rushing, aimlessly, to meet this deadline, which isn't going to be met.

Any advice please?


1 Answer 1


One should never allow work to affect your personal life or relationship. If you start feeling like this is the case, something drastic needs to change with either where you work or how you do your work. You need to focus on managing your time & estimating deadlines more accurately.

Next time, consider requesting to do a code review prior to estimating a deadline. At the end of the day, you offered a certain date and seemingly aren't able to meet it. I understand that you didn't realize it was going to be "so much work", however you set the time frame and unfortunately weren't able to deliver. The employer is likely not going to be pleased.

As a professional you have your integrity to handle in a situation like this, so you need to make a decision using your best judgement in terms of moving forwards. You can either:

  • Request to extend the deadline, or
  • Offer a refund and abandon the project

Keep in mind, the employer knew that the code base was poor prior to hiring you. You can only do so much with the resources at hand, so don't beat yourself up about it.

But do take things into your own hands and make a concious decision about how you'll be handling situations like this in future. Be fair to yourself and don't allow yourself to fall into this predicament again.

  • 1
    This was an excellent response. I do accept responsibility for not reviewing the code as I should have. It hurts, I've never had to abandon a project before. I think I'm going to refund the cash and move along. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 6:28
  • 3
    No regrets, just lessons learnt ;)
    – Moose
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 6:35
  • 5
    There is nothing so bad that it cannot be at least a bad example ;-) Maybe when you drop, your client learns something from that, too.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 9:14
  • 3
    Good news, I pushed through it and managed to make a huge improvement on his site. Yes I'm not on target with time, but the client has finally told me this morning not to worry about rushing, and that he's happy with progress even if it's a little slower than expected. Yay! Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 12:22

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