Anyway, the project finally got underway in 2004 and had a two year timeframe for all necessary repairs to be completed. The plan was to start with the worst units first, and a map and schedule were provided to all owners so we would know when their unit was slated and when our neighbors units would be repaired. The first couple units had basements dug out and lines redone and we all started feeling a little better about the whole situation as we started to see progress. And then the third unit was getting repaired and it was identified during those repairs that the problem was much deeper than anyone expected. Several basements (including mine) had to be completely removed one brick at a time and rebuilt while supporting frame beams were installed under the condominium. “New requirements and needs become apparent during a project.” (Portney et al 2008) however scope creep also set in a bit, because basements that were completely rebuilt also had to have new drywall, new ceilings and new electrical fixtures etc. Things got a little tricky because typically unit owners have responsibility for repairs and maintenance of the inside of their units, however, since those repairs were necessary and caused by the external repairs, they were in fact covered by the project. So, homeowners whose basements needed minimal repairs wanted to feel like they were getting their monies worth and pressured the association to have a second set of engineers review the properties. They also felt entitled to get new drywall and new ceilings even though they may have just had one small section of a wall repaired. The toughest part of all of this was the lack of communication about the changes and new schedules and new game plans. As homeowners, we would get some information at the monthly meetings and via a monthly newsletter, but given the amount of information, more frequent updates would have been appreciated. Most information came very informally as homeowners walked their pets and talked to neighbors. We even would get information from the construction crew at times. The association had advised us at a meeting that the crew was going to work Saturday and Sundays, however that did not happen. In talking with the construction crew, they indicated they had a contract which prohibited them from working on Saturdays and Sundays.
In looking back, had I been managing the project, I would have made the change control process very transparent to all of the homeowners and communicated changes to all concerned parties. I would have stepped up the number of communications “including reports summarizing changes to date and their impacts.” (Portney et al 2008) The association had a good initial plan but when the unforeseen changes started to occur they did a lot of reacting without any input from the homeowners and very little communication. Because their change control system was not transparent, I am not sure how much analyzing occurred for requested changes or what requirements (if any) existed to determine if they would make a change. I think for this type of project, having a change control process that is very transparent – perhaps posted to a website and updated every week would be an improvement. As change orders are approved, project plans and schedules could be updated to reflect the impact of the change. That way, questions fielded at the monthly meeting could be more productive. In short, scope creep can and will happen. It is information that needs to be communicated to stakeholders and how it is being managed should be in the limelight, not hidden away in the basement.
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.