Expecting the Unexpected During Scope Review Helps Pearson Middle School Renovations Stay on Budget and on Schedule
Recently we renovated and updated six student and four staff restrooms at the Pearson Middle School in Winstead, CT.
After 30 years of students using the facilities, the restrooms showed plenty of wear and tear. While our initial quote included replacing stalls, sinks, toilets, and tiles as the school requested, we knew this project could be much more involved.
On projects with potential “surprises” in store, we like to set expectations up-front in a scope review. The restroom plans looked great on paper. But we didn’t know what was behind the wall or under the floor. We did know that these could be problem areas. So, we discussed it with the school to make sure they were aware of the unknowns.
During the scope review, the school also added to the project! They wanted to renovate four staff bathrooms and increase the height of the wall tiles in the student restrooms. In both cases, it’s good to have these kinds of discussions before picking up a hammer.
As it turns out, the substrate in the walls was rotted, and the sheetrock was compromised on the second and third floors. We had to rebuild the walls while renovating the student restrooms.
The important thing is that the school was more receptive to these unexpected issues because we planned for them before beginning work on the project. Whenever we ran into an issue, we called a meeting. We brought the client to the site to show them the problem. They never felt like we gave them a “gotcha” because potential issues were discussed prior.
There’s nothing worse than getting two-thirds of the way through a project and finding issues that add costs and cause delays. So, we openly discuss potential issues as part of our planning process. Our scope review is conducted on-site, so the client can look at potential issues not included in their bid documents. Our final quote includes these unexpected issues and gives the client a more realistic budget and schedule.
Everyone is much happier if a project comes in under budget and ahead of schedule!
This was also an important issue for the school because grant funding was only available for a certain amount of time. In addition, the school was in session! So, we renovated two restrooms at a time—one boys and one girls—on each of the three floors. In the end, the client was very happy that we finished on the original schedule, even with the added scope. And we did it in an active school setting.
The additional costs were painful for the Pearson Middle School. It was unfortunate, but the school appreciated that we told them up-front about the potential problems. It allowed them to budget and plan for issues ahead of time—which is much, much less painful, compared to discovering unexpected issues after work has begun.