Whether you’re remodeling to sell or renovating to make your place your dream home, there are two faces to the enemy of your plans: time scope creep and budget scope creep. Either can wreak havoc on your project, and both together can spell disaster.
What is scope creep? It is the unintended expansion of both a project’s size and expense, causing the unavoidable extension of the time it takes to complete.
Budget Scope Creep
Even the best estimate for a project is still only an estimate. Experienced builders and contractors can be blind-sided by astronomical increases in materials costs, unforeseen shortages in normally available fixtures and fittings, unseasonable weather delays and myriad other events out of their control that raise costs and introduce scope creep into your best planned remodeling project.
Another cause of budget scope creep happens when you have a new idea or what to change something after your contractor has quoted his price. You see an advertisement for a different light fixture. Or, you walk through a home improvement store and see the latest in paint or carpet colors or any other amendment that you ask for after the quote.
Unforeseen causes: A natural disaster on the opposite side of the country can affect the prices of materials in your location. If the disaster is very large—like a tornado—those costs can rise monthly as materials are redirected to the disaster area for rebuilding. If your contractor bid your project just a couple months earlier, but you didn’t start purchasing materials until now, your whole budget is just a bunch of meaningless numbers.
Another unavoidable change may be increases in the cost of permits. Local and state governments probably don’t consult you before they make changes and set timetables for implementation. Changes in materials necessary to comply with a new code may cause delay from the manufacturer or require reconfiguring your scope to include an alternate choice.
To avoid budget scope creep:
- Hire an experienced builder or contractor. They know about scope creep, so they will warn you about each change and how it will affect your budget.
- Purchase materials near to the time of the bid.
- Know what you want before you get started and avoid making unnecessary changes.
- Add 15 to 20 percent to any bid you get.
Time Scope Creep
When your project takes longer than you anticipated, it may disrupt your whole life. If you are remodeling to sell, scope creep delays putting your house on the market. You may miss that window of opportunity for your area, or be unable to buy the place you have on contingency. If renovating to live in, scope creep throws your family life into disarray. When the project stretches into a different season, for example, your best-laid plans for coping (cooking outdoors on the barbecue while your kitchen is torn up) become meaningless.
Any of the causes of budget scope creep can increase time scope creep. In addition, delays in receiving materials, illness or injury, and a host of other unavoidable events can stretch the time it takes to finish your renovations.
Don’t add to time scope creep by constantly making changes, additions, or “little requests”— changes that seem minor to you, but take much longer than you anticipate for your contractor to make. When you request changes, it throws off the entire timetable for that special dance between one sub-contractor and another required to finish your remodel.