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By Kevin M. Skelly, President, K.M. Skelly, Inc.
NAHB Graduate Master Builder |Master Certified Green Professional
In the previous two segments, we discussed two different ideas that will assist in making your next construction project memorable (for all the right reasons) – (1) Client/Contractor Relations and (2) Setting Expectations. In this issue, we think it’s important to highlight Project Scope and the proper use of Change Orders.
Project scope and change orders go hand-in-hand throughout a project. Project scope should be defined early, and managed throughout the project to avoid what is known as ‘scope creep’- the incremental expansion of the scope of a project, which may include and introduce more requirements that may not have been part of the initial planning of the project. ‘Scope creep’ occurs often during projects when scope is either (1) not clearly defined, or (2) not referenced throughout the project. There are many consequences of ‘scope creep,’ but the most common is a probable delay in the completion of the project. Owners and contractors should work together to identify items that do not fall within the scope of the project and generate change orders to document additional work that has or will be completed, which may result in a change in price, have an impact on the project timeframe, or both.
Change orders should be used to identify and document any work to be completed that is not considered ‘in scope,’ regardless of whether the change will come with additional fees or not. A proper change order should include at a minimum: date, description of the work (as best as possible) to be completed, estimated or fixed fee cost (increase or decrease), how the change will impact the estimated date of completion, and it should be signed by all parties prior to making the change.
To conclude, keep your project scope in check! Use change orders to identify and document tasks or areas of the project that do not fall in scope to avoid ‘scope creep.’ Maintaining project scope and using change orders properly will go a long way in ensuring that your project comes in on time and on budget.
 “Scope (project Management).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.