Dealing with project scope creep

Dealing with project scope creep in architecture

What is project scope creep in architecture?

Project scope creep in architecture refers to the gradual, often unnoticed, expansion of the project’s objectives and deliverables beyond its original plans or scope. It typically happens when new elements are added to the project without corresponding increases in resources, time, or budget.

Scope creep can occur in any project phase and might involve additional design revisions, incorporation of new technologies, changes in materials, or modifications in building codes that were not part of the initial project plan.

Scope creep can be particularly challenging in architectural projects due to their complex nature, involving multiple stakeholders, long project durations, and the need for high levels of coordination and communication.

Keep in mind that scope creep is not always negative. If managed effectively, it can lead to improvements and innovations in the project and an opportunity to offer extra services and thus increase your revenue. The key is to have a robust project management system in place that can accommodate changes while keeping the project on track.

Obviously, if you’re experiencing project scope creep and change orders often, you are doing something wrong as a business and project manager. Let’s review the major causes of project scope creep and ways to prevent and minimize it.

The effects of project scope creep in architecture


Project scope creep in architecture can lead to significant time delays. As the project’s scope expands, new elements are added that were not initially planned for. This can result in missed deadlines and increased pressure on the project team, potentially compromising the quality of the work.


Another effect of scope creep is the escalation of costs. As the project grows beyond its original boundaries, additional resources are required, including labour, materials, and time. This can lead to budget overruns, which can strain relationships with clients and stakeholders and potentially jeopardize the financial viability of the project.


Scope creep can also lead to losing focus on the project’s original objectives. As new elements are added, the project can become more complex and difficult to manage. This can result in a final product that does not meet the initial goals or expectations, leading to dissatisfaction among clients and stakeholders.

Team morale

Additionally, scope creep can lead to a decrease in team morale. When the project’s scope continually changes, it can create a sense of uncertainty and frustration among the project team. This can lead to decreased productivity, increased burnout, and negatively impacting the overall project outcome.


Finally, scope creep can damage the reputation of your architectural firm. If a project is continually delayed, exceeds budget, or fails to meet the client’s expectations, it can harm the firm’s reputation. This can make it more difficult to secure future projects and ultimately grow your business.

Causes of project scope creep in architecture

There are many reasons project scope creep can occur. Here are just a few of them:

Lack of clarity

One of the main causes of project scope creep in architecture is the lack of clear project objectives and requirements. 

When the project’s goals, deliverables, or requirements are not clearly defined from the outset, it can lead to changes and additions as the project progresses, causing the scope to expand beyond the initial plan.

Lack of communication

Another cause is poor communication among stakeholders. 

If there is not a clear and open line of communication between the project manager, the client, the architect, and other stakeholders, it can lead to misunderstandings about what is expected, leading to changes in the project scope.

External conditions

Changes in market conditions or regulatory requirements can also lead to scope creep. 

For instance, if new building codes are introduced during the project or if there are changes in the market that affect the project’s feasibility or profitability, the project scope may need to be adjusted. 

You need to have a clear understanding of project constraints and how they evolve over time.

Bad planning

Underestimation of the complexity of the project is another common cause. 

If the project is more complex than initially anticipated, it may require additional resources, time, or expertise, leading to an expansion of the project scope.

Client requests

Client-driven changes are another common cause of scope creep. 

Clients may change their minds about certain aspects of the project, request additional features, or have new ideas as the project progresses. 

While it’s important to accommodate client needs, these changes can lead to scope creep if not properly managed.

Weak change control processes

Lastly, scope creep can occur when there is a lack of a change control process. 

Without a formal process for managing changes to the project, it’s easy for the scope to expand without proper evaluation of the impact on the project’s timeline, budget, and resources.

How to prevent project scope creep in architecture

Define project scope well

To prevent project scope creep in architecture, it’s crucial to start with a well-defined project scope. 

Your project planning should include a detailed description of the project, its objectives, deliverables, and all the tasks required to achieve these deliverables. It’s also important to include what is not part of the project to avoid any confusion.

Master change management

Another key strategy is to establish a robust change management process. This process should outline how changes to the project scope will be identified, evaluated, and approved. It should also include a communication plan to ensure all stakeholders are informed of any changes and their impact on the project.

Communicate effectively

Effective communication is also vital in preventing scope creep. 

Regular meetings with all stakeholders, starting with visioning workshops, can help to ensure everyone understands the project scope and any changes to it.

These meetings can also provide an opportunity to address any concerns or issues that may lead to scope creep.

Document and save everything

Proper documentation is another essential tool in managing scope creep. 

All project information, including the scope, changes, and decisions, should be documented and accessible to all stakeholders.

PlanMan has an advanced document management module that lets you keep all your blueprints, renders, notes, presentations and anything else in one place.

To look at project scope creep another way, you need to master stakeholder expectations management. This starts with clearly communicating what can and cannot be achieved within the project scope to effectively managing any changes and risk. Consider getting general project management training, including agile work methodologies.

With PlanMan, we offer you a reliable tool for all your architecture project management needs. Sign up for free and see how organized and streamlined work can get!