It can be difficult to limit the scope of a renovation project. Unexpected conditions and requirements can add to project scope.
I recall an example of this related to a small residential renovation. A neighbor was converting the attic of his Seattle bungalow into bedrooms, and he decided to keep the existing attic stairs and chimney to save construction cost. The stair was steep and was in a poor location, and the existing chimney interrupted the route of the new hallway. When the building inspector appeared for the final inspection, he determined that the stairway and the chimney would have to be replaced as conditions for approval of occupancy. So, the owner’s intended cost savings disappeared, and the final result included the disadvantages of the original locations of the stair and chimney. It would have been better to look into the requirements when planning the project.
Similar issues can affect larger renovation projects. On a project that includes demolition and replacement of whole parts of a building, it is quite common that structural requirements can extend the project scope into parts of the building that are intended to remain “as is”. Other requirements can have similar effects on project scope. Depending on the project and the location, such requirements might include mandatory upgrades to electrical or mechanical systems, accessibility, and other conditions. So, one principle of project cost management is to look into such possible requirements early in the planning process, before finalizing the project scope and budget.