I am trying to work up a budget for an app, specifically a budget for hiring a third-party programmer to add a specific feature, and I'm trying to figure out how to get a decent number. The requirements are beyond my ability to estimate, so I'll obviously need to talk to someone with more experience, but I don't know anyone with this sort of experience.
My first thought was to just post a job on oDesk or something similar, but here's the thing: I'm not ready to hire someone yet, and it seems less-than-professional to post a job listing just so I can poll programmers on how much something might cost me later.
I can't imagine I'm the first person to encounter this problem. Is posting a job listing an acceptable way of price estimating, or if not, how does one estimate a budget without doing that?
For what it's worth, what I'm looking for is largely a self-contained feature, with minimal integration with the pre-existing code. As an example, imagine hiring someone to animate a ball bouncing across the screen whenever a button is hit. I can handle the menu design and button, I just need someone to work up the code that happens when that button is hit (creating an animating a new object onscreen, simulating gravity and impact physics, etc). I'm trying to figure out how much to budget for "the programmer I'm going to hire to animate that ball," so their familiarity with the code of the project at large isn't terribly important.