Prevent Scope Creep With Detailed Project Evaluations

March 25, 2019

Planning is vital in construction projects.

Who hasn’t had the experience of planning a project that inevitably changes directions?

When change happens in construction, the effects can be costly and cause significant delays. This is unfortunate for everyone involved, as it will often lead to scope creep. Avoiding delays and keeping projects within budget are a couple of big reasons why it’s so important to have a proper project evaluation.

At Thomsen construction, we have a Project Evaluation (PE) Service for every project. Our PEs have four components: Design, Scope, Bid, and Timeline. This process helps us understand your plans and define what it will take to complete the work. Before we even begin, we are able to give you all the information you need to complete a successful project.

We know that poorly planned projects and renovations can stray from the original “specs” because a team didn’t take the time to detail and define a project for a homeowner. In this blog, we’ll define scope creep, outline the impacts of scope creep, and highlight ways to prevent scope creep from happening with your home improvement projects.

tools in shedWhat is Scope Creep?

In construction projects, the term scope creep was coined to describe the process when a project exceeds the initial proposal or agreement between a homeowner and contractor. Changes can start off small but quickly grow into costly architectural and engineering revisions. At Thomsen, before we start any project, we provide a detailed line item description of the work and list all specifications. This Scope of Work (SOW) includes specifications for appliances, fixtures, materials (tile etc.) and subcontractor bids. The goal is to clearly understand your contractor during the planning phase, so you can be on the same page when it comes to visualizing your desired finished product. This way, you—the homeowner—know what is required to complete the work. If you don’t receive a SOW from a contractor, then you have too many unknowns. These unknowns will often result in scope creep.

The Impacts of Scope Creep For Homeowners

The number of homeowners in the US who experience scope creep with their construction projects is surprisingly high. Communication plays a big role in scope creep. If a homeowner is kept in the dark or has received a vague, ambiguous contract, then chances are that questions and dissatisfaction will occur. Impacts of scope creep can depend on how far the project strayed from initial plans, for example:

  • Schedule: Scope creep can throw off the scheduling of your project, and you may not be enjoying your finished product at the date you expected to.
  • Costs: Project costs may increase, and you may end up paying more than you budgeted. This may cancel out your return on investment or profit margin.
  • Project Dissatisfaction: After all of your hard work and time, you still may not get what you want from your project because your initial idea was not defined. As a result, your finished project lacks desired features and may not function as expected.

How To Prevent Scope Creep With Your Projectstools and saw in work shed

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent scope creep from ruining your project. You can look closely at project details, and map everything out with your construction company. Ask questions! Homeowners can prevent scope creep with attention to detail, clear communication, and timely decision-making. Even if a homeowner changes a project, then good planning can still avoid scope creep by minimizing the impact.

In the course of most jobs, there will be changes to the original contract that are desired or required. These can effectively be handled with Change of Work Orders (CWO). CWO’s are contractual agreements between the client and contractor that modify the original contract. A CWO exactly specifies 3 critical elements: the new scope, the price for the new work, and any changes in scheduling caused by the new work. Agreed and signed by both parties, the CWO becomes the new contract. It is an effective way to manage inevitable changes that come up during a job. Because everyone is aware of and agrees to the full impact of the changes before the new work is begun, it also helps control job creep.

At Thomsen, our Project Evaluation (PE) allows us to research the details with our clients before we even pick up a hammer. This approach has been beneficial because it helps us to look into every step of the project, and eliminate the unknowns. By using the PE agreement, we can collaborate with you to completely define your project and achieve your goals. It also provides you with construction documents that ensure a successful project.

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