Is Your Project ‘Substantially Complete’?

In the case of the “Cobbler’s Kids have no Shoes” I recently renovated my kitchen. With 25 years of project management experience under my belt (10 years in the construction trades) a space this size should not be a challenge….right? This is not a project for the faint of heart. As I began my mission, I quickly realized I had many expert opinions I needed to analyze in order to create a Business Requirements Document (which was never written). And off we go…..

I only had one requirement…a seven foot sliding door in order to allow easier disposal of the fourteen foot Christmas tree that resides in the living room for the holiday season. After a short conversation with the stakeholders it was decided that an external contractor should be engaged in order to ensure a timely completion to the project.

Very soon, there were new additions to the project, such as a new gas stove, which by the way needs to match the new refrigerator. Without a project plan we charged on into the renovation. After measuring and ordering the new countertop, the stove arrived. Luckily it was the same size as the one leaving otherwise that would have meant rework and more cost.

When I was a teenager, just completing my secondary school education diploma, I wanted to be a professional drummer. My brother-in-law “the plumber” suggested I get a trade, just in case the music thing didn’t pan out. Words of wisdom. When changes to my non-existent project plan needed to happen I was able to make the necessary electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and gas changes instantly instead of waiting for the tradesmen to arrive. Again, a huge savings but the changes were never calculated or budgeted for.

When the renovation was “substantially complete” (which is a construction term that means the sink is working but it drains into a pail and we’ll get back to it if there is any money left in the budget), the contractor was released from his contract leaving many of the finishing touches incomplete.

Other projects have now been introduced and have dependencies on the completed kitchen project. As a result, the kitchen has fallen from the priority list and the new projects are also being delayed. So far the stakeholders haven’t really complained much but I can’t depend on this level of patience to continue for much longer. As we head into another beautiful central Ontario Labour Day weekend, and I see my buddies heading off to the cottage or the golf course, I will be standing on the front porch with my tool belt on and my trusty hammer at my side waving as they head for Nirvana.

The project is going into its second year and while it is getting done it’s taking an extremely long time to complete.  Without a schedule or a completed scope plan many of the small things are being missed. SO the question is why didn’t I create a project plan for this home renovation? I have the tools, I have the knowledge, so why wasn’t this task completed? Because I am a professional. I don’t read installation instructions and I don’t build project plans for projects I do myself….until now!

If you are interested in learning more about how Logixsource can assist you with developing your project plan, contact Heather Cartwright or Scott Savage at

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