Are You Doing More Than You Originally Agreed To?

Is this scope creep? How can you prevent scope creep?

Nov 29, 2022

People meeting around a boardroom table
People meeting around a boardroom table

Most projects have a Prime Consultant, but only some projects. In other cases, the contract with the Owner may stipulate that the Architect has the same responsibilities as the other consultants. But then something weird happens - the Owner expects you to coordinate all the other consultants and take charge of all documentation. Suddenly you are spending more time and money on the project and have just accepted more responsibility and risk. 

Sometimes, you can push back and say “That wasn’t the arrangement we agreed to”. Easier said than done. Architecture is a competitive field, and relationships are essential to getting more work in the future and maintaining a good reputation.

How can this scope creep be prevented?

Construction Administration is a low-profit phase (typically 0% profit). It’s important to demonstrate to the Owner at the beginning of the relationship, that if you are expected to act as the Prime, then you need to be compensated as the Prime. The value that comes with that role is standardization and a streamlined process that will mitigate disagreements and wasted time. The Owner knows they are not going to be the one chasing people, and the GC is not going to do that either. It’s a role that’s needed - so who do they think is going to do it? 

These are hard conversations to have, but putting these questions back to them might help them realize they need someone to act as Prime.

  1. Who is in charge of coordinating the team?

  2. Who is going to review Consultant changes before they are issued to the GC?

  3. Who is going to be the source and filter of all communication?

More responsibility and more risk warrant a higher fee. Again, this is an extremely difficult conversation to have, but hey, you run a business, not a charity.