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3 Cost Control Jobs Gone Wrong


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Telling your boss that your project has gone over budget is a nightmare. How about telling your boss that you’re 1990% over budget? That’s one job we are not envious of. Unfortunately, this is something that cost estimators and project managers have come to be very familiar with. 

More often than not, the cause of your delays and budget nightmares is a poor relationship between reliable estimates and project management. Whether it be omissions in original estimates, inadequate allowances for delays, or politics, here are three projects that failed to see the impending warning signs and were doomed to live in infamy.

1. 1967 Montreal Olympic Stadium

Original Estimate: $148,667,400

Actual Cost: $3,107,148,660 (1990% over budget)

Olympic stadiums are notorious for their wildly inaccurate initial bids. The 1967 Montreal Olympic stadium was no exception to the rule– gaining the nickname of ‘The Big Owe’ by locals for good reason. Failures began with an estimate that was based on the Parc des Princes in Paris, which was a smaller scale version of what French Architect Roger Taillibert had envisioned for the Olympic stadium. During the build, politics led to leadership changes, redesigns, overall poor project management, and ultimately cost overruns and delays. 

2. The Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood

Original Estimate: $56,236,880

Actual Cost: $819,451,680 (1357% over budget)

In 1999, against an initial deadline of the new millennium, the project of building a new parliament for Scotland was astronomically over budget and overdue by the time it officially opened in 2004. In a post build Auditor General Report, the following conclusions were made: design variations and the late supply of information during the construction process, inconsistent vision between client requests and build team, and poor project management led to costly delays.

3. Sydney Opera House

Original Estimate: $92,142,600

Actual Cost: $953,675,910 (935% over budget)

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings on earth, recognized around the world as a global symbol of Australia. In the construction industry it is known as one of the most disastrous construction projects in history. It was a conscious political decision made by the Labour Government to publicize a low budget for the building. Pair this with a management dispute between the client and the architect and you have changes in project scope, design changes, insufficient staff, and an overall communication nightmare. 

For every problem, there is a solution.

Without proper communication, collaboration and reliable insights you’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of these project estimates. But, succeeding in these two areas requires a tool capable of handling the task. 

Your advantage over these projects is the innovation of technologies like project management software and cloud computing. Without them, you’re asking for inaccurate estimates and unreliable budgets. But if you harness their power you can leave cost overruns and estimate nightmares behind.