You are a reputable contractor who works hard to produce quality new builds and renovations. You understand that it is all part of the game of keeping the client happy to give in on requests from time to time.
But it is one thing to accommodate a client’s reasonable request for changes and quite another to agree to major alterations in the plans in the middle of the project. In fact, there is a name for this costly aggravation — scope creep.
What is scope creep and why it is such a problem?
Scope creep is when the scope of a project changes on the whim of a client who convinces the contractor (or one of the subs) to add or subtract a feature that is not included in the contract. It’s a problem because somebody has to pay for all those changes, and if that person is not the client, it will be you.
If you want to appease a good client and add a bedroom skylight on your dime, it may pay for itself later in numerous business recommendations to the client’s friends and family. Moving a weight-bearing wall to make the great room larger, however, could put you so far over budget that you might actually lose money on the job.
How can you stop scope creep in its tracks?
The best way to resist scope creep from the project’s inception is to rely on this standard reply: “Let’s have a look at the contract.” You and your client both know that the proposed change will not be on that legally binding document, so now it is time to dust off your negotiating skills. If you choose to capitulate, agree on a cost increase and make sure that you and your client both sign off on the deal.
Failing that, you could wind up having to hire an attorney to litigate the contract dispute in civil court.