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We fully understand you need to know how much our work is likely to cost you. You don't want a big unexpected bill at the end.

At the same time, family history projects can be very open-ended, and it's hard to estimate in advance how much work they will require. That can depend on a large number of different factors, such as where people lived, what historical period we're dealing with, where they went to church, how wealthy they were etc. etc. etc.

But don't worry: we have developed a way of working that manages that uncertainty. You will know the maximum amount you are going to pay before we start. 

So how does it work? 

The way we normally recommend we proceed is as follows:

1. We begin by carrying out a one-hour no-charge assessment of your project, based on information you provide. We just need enough to allow us to make a start, familiarize ourselves with the basic facts, try to pick up the thread of the family line in the records and get a handle on what might be involved, and how easy or hard it might prove.

2. Based on what we find during that hour, we will propose an initial research budget.

The budget is the maximum amount you would be charged for our work. It gives us a degree of freedom to proceed without having to check every penny with you, and gives you the reassurance you're not going to get a big unexpected bill at the end.

Our basic rate for genealogy research is £20 per hour, plus any costs incurred.

The minimum realistic budget for a Tree-planter package or Pay-as-you-grow is £50. A typical budget for this kind of work is somewhere between £250 and £500, depending on how much you feel you can afford, how difficult we think the project is likely to be and the level of costs that could be involved.

If you're interested in a Blockbuster solution to a brick wall problem, we can also quote a no-win-no-fee "bounty" option. The bounty would be an amount of money you would pay only if we are able to answer your question. Inevitably, it tends to have to be quite an attractive figure to give us an incentive to do work which might lead nowhere, e.g. typically a minimum of £100.

3. Once we've agreed a figure and some research objectives, we would carry out the work until either the targets had been achieved or the budget was fully used up. Either way you would receive a research report with supporting documentation and evidence and charts. At that stage, we can decide what further work you would like done, if any, and what the budget for that work should be.

4. Whatever budget we agree, we ask for at least 50% in advance and will invoice for the balance on completion.

We find this is a practical way of operating which protects both parties.

Sounds great. Where do we go from here?

If that all sounds OK to you, and you want to ask us to quote for your project, just send us the information we need to carry out the initial assessment.

If you have already done some research, and were able to send us anything you have such as birth, marriage and death certificates, or census entries, that would be very helpful. Or if you have compiled a database using some genealogy software, use the option to export to a GEDCOM file and send it to us. Or if you have an online tree on Ancestry or some other website, let us know and we'll explain how to share it with us.

But if you don't have anything of that kind, it's not a problem. We can start a project with as little as your name and date and place of birth, though the more you can send, the better. If you're unsure, just get in touch and we can discuss what might be useful to us.

What else do I need to tell you?

It's also helpful if we can understand your priorities for the project. For example, would you want to push the family line back in time as far as possible as quickly as possible, or are you more interested in spending time learning more about recent generations? Both are possible, but it's just a question of which is most important to you. Is there anything in particular (perhaps a family legend, or your grandfather's Army service) you would like us to look into?

It's not really practical to try to research a person's complete ancestry in one go, i.e. both parents, all four grandparents, all eight great-grandparents, all 16 great-great-grandparents etc. as the number of ancestors soon becomes enormous (10 generations = 1,024 ancestors in that generation alone).

So we normally quote for doing a single family "line" (which usually means a particular surname) at a time, i.e. father's family, then, separately, mother's family etc. We would then be able to present each of those families' stories as a coherent narrative, relating the history of each generation one after another. Trying to present the history of your all ancestors at the same time becomes very confusing for all concerned, both researcher and client (a bit like a film that jumps from one time and place to another and back - you can easily lose the plot!). So, let us know which name you would like researched, i.e. your father's, your mother's, or some other.

It's also important to understand that there can be no guarantees that it will be possible to find the information you're looking for. If things are straightforward, we can make rapid progress and trace a family line back a couple of centuries in an hour. On the other hand, if we hit something like an illegitimate birth, or if the family proves to have come to the UK from overseas, or if the records we need are simply lost, then it can become very hard to make progress.

When you're ready, just get in touch, and we'll be delighted to discuss your needs with you.