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Could you get tripped up by scope creep on your next project?

If you are a Denver contractor, chances are good that you have already experienced scope creep on your jobs. To a certain extent, scope creep is an occupational hazard that must be managed.

But there are occasions of unbridled scope creep that far exceed the nuisance levels and cross over into actual business liabilities. Let's examine the problem further.

Defining the scope of project is crucial for its success

Without a clearly defined scope of the work, it is far too easy for your client to build unrealistic expectations of the finished project. Your contract must be iron-clad when it comes to what work will and will not be performed.

Any failures here you can bet will reappear to bite you later, so get it right the first time with your contract.

Make sure that your subcontractors sign off on contracts as well

It's possible for your client to take legal action against your subs without linking you in to the litigation. But, at the end of the day, you are the one who bears primary liability when the ball gets dropped. That means that you need to ensure that any contracts with subs are concise and not subject to misinterpretation by either the client or the subcontractors.

Verbal contracts will lead you into hot water

It's said that a person's word is their bond, but when it comes to contracts with clients, put it in writing. Not only does that protect you as the contractor, it protects the client as well. They will not have to face a bill later that's swollen by several thousands of dollars for work they now wish they never added.

Should you ever let scope creep slide?

There are two different schools of thought on this. One is that a satisfied client is worth its weight in gold. The other is that someone, somewhere will have to put out cash to cover the scope creep work -- and it shouldn't be you.

In truth, it's a little bit of both. Contractors want to keep their clients happy. If adding an additional outlet in the bedroom keeps your client happy, there is very little cost or trouble to you as the contractor.

But moving a weight-bearing wall is a whole other matter and should be addressed by a contract modification that both you and the client sign off on. It's mainly about picking your battles.

Loop in the attorney

One of the best ways to head off scope creep at the outset is to have your business law attorney do a document review of all your business contracts. They can then point out any potential legal pitfalls that could trip you up later.

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