Scope Creep: changes that seem doable but turn into monsters

scope creep


The most challenging changes are those that begin as tiny little bits of scope creep. It is assumed by the client or their representative, architect, or consultant; that you will also be doing this little wee tiny bit of modification as part of the contract. Because it appears small and insignificant, it seems simpler to just get it done, than to chase for paperwork and wait for approvals. What could go wrong?

  • It takes longer than expected
  • It delays the next task
  • It doesn’t quite work out and needs more time, effort, and materials
  • Now something else in the original design must be changed as well

The earlier that this scenario is recognized, the easier it will be to manage it.

Documentation is key. Documenting the initial change to include it in the contract will ensure that you have a case for stopping after its complete and asking for remuneration for the delay, extra time and materials, and subsequent changes. Don’t be concerned with having too much documentation. It is easier to discard unnecessary documents after the fact than it is to create documentation from memory after the work is complete. It is also much more difficult to get remunerated for the extra work.

Early warning signs that documentation will be necessary include comments from architects such as: ‘drawings to follow’ or ‘design is incomplete’. Design changes early in the project herald more design changes as the build continues.


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