Analyzing Scope Creep

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

I do not have much experience with projects and scope creep, but from a personal perspective I can relate to projects I have taken on in my home.  I have written a lot about house projects throughout the course, but when I think of projects, all I can think of are house projects.  About two and a half years ago my wife and I moved into our house.  Since then I have spent my free time remodeling sections of the house.  I try to go room by room, so we do not have multiple projects going on at the same time.  When one project is finished we will take a break, then start a new one.  Recently my wife and I decided it was time to start working on the kitchen.  My wife understands my busy schedule, and was just asking me to get paint on the walls.  I estimated for the paint to be on the walls in two weeks.  Just working in the evening and on the weekends.  The wallpaper had to come off, holes needed patched, and then the walls needed paint. 

As the project progressed, we thought to ourselves, and remembered how we would like to blow out the wall entering the family room from the kitchen and creating a breakfast bar.  At this point, the kitchen is all prepped and ready for paint.  We got advice from our SME (my friend Matt) about how difficult and expensive it would be to remove the wall and create a breakfast bar.  After getting advice from Matt, my wife and I decided to blow the wall out now before we paint the kitchen.  If we are going to start remodeling the kitchen, we mine as well do what we want now.  After about a week of plastering and sanding scope creep issues became apparent.  As the project progressed, we decided to change our plan for the whole project (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).  It was no longer going to take one more week to paint.  It was going to take a week to tear the old wall down, a week reroute wires, and a week to build a breakfast bar.  All together the two-week project would now take a month to a month and a half to finish.  My wife went back to her notepad that had the steps to completion and rewrote it to include the steps of removing a wall and creating a breakfast bar. 

The biggest issue we encountered with the new addition to the project was controlling dust, and the extended time the project would now need.  Living under construction is not easy, especially when it is your kitchen under construction.  It is hard to control dust in the kitchen, so we had to cover up all the furniture in the living room to keep the dust off of it.  To deal with the new time constraints we really focused on keeping track of the progress and documenting it.  Our daily and weekly status reports were prepared and documented in the form of pictures.  We did not refer to these updates as status reports, but they were in a way informal status reports.  According to Stolovitch (n.d.) scheduling daily project reviews, and discussing the progress of the project will help keep the team focused and on track.  My project only involved my wife and I, but we did sit down together and discuss the difficulties and successes of the project.  I gave my wife the extended deadline (1 month ), and we agreed to have it completed by then. 


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.

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Monitoring Projects (Video Program).  Laureate Education Inc.


  1. devinvail says:

    Hi Jordan,

    I’m impressed with how much you do yourself in your home. Very courageous and hard working. I’m lucky if I get a light bulb changed periodically.

    This isn’t a very tragic case of scope creep, in my opinion. In fact, it may be one of those rare examples of scope creep having a positive result, in that you now have the kitchen you really wanted (hopefully it turned out well.) Greer describes this situation (although I had my doubts when I read it) – “Change of scope is normal — it’s not necessarily a problem. In fact, scope changes can be beneficial when they allow the project team to respond sensibly to changing conditions that exist outside the project. This can help ensure that project deliverables remain relevant” (Greer, 2010, p. 35). I think this is very much the case in your situation. I think you did the right thing in altering the project when you realized the more relevant objective.

    – Devin


    Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

  2. peggywalden says:

    Great example Jordan of how scope creep can have a positive effect on the overall project. I agree with Devin that sometimes it’s better to take an opportunity to realize the more relevant objective and alter the project scope.

    My husband and I still rent and I could not imagine tackling home remodel projects while working full-time and completing a graduate degree. He could not tolerate living in a demolition zone although he would thoroughly enjoy doing the demolition!

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