How Feature Creep Almost Killed My New House


I am a middle-aged man who has heard all of the horror stories of building a house. I knew what I was getting into, yet I did it anyway. I thought I was the exception to the rule. Having once worked in construction, I thought I could handle it. I was wrong. Not only was building more than I bargained for, but it also taught me a valuable lesson about feature creep.

Truth be told, feature creep almost killed my new house. The thing is, I knew about feature creep going in. I knew that feature creep in residential home construction is no different than scope creep in a corporate setting. But I still didn’t manage to keep it at bay. It’s a good thing I had people standing by to rescue me. Otherwise, who knows what would have happened?

Corporate Feature Creep

In a corporate setting, feature creep is really nothing more than a scenario in which the proposed features for a given project are gradually expanded during implementation. The Janiko Group offers software development as an example.

A company may start out wanting a new app and knowing exactly what it should look like. But as development progresses, different coders start proposing new features. The company accepts one feature here and another there. By the time the project is completed, the app has a lot more features and a much higher price tag.

Home Construction Feature Creep

Feature creep in home construction works exactly the same way. During my initial discussions with the builder, we settled on a basic design plan. From there, I was expected to add the features that interested me. It was easy at first. But then I started getting questions about features I hadn’t considered. It seemed like every time I met with the builder, he was proposing something else.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. I mean, why not spend a little extra to get a remote-controlled garage door? What I failed to realize is that every new feature was also adding to the final cost. That painful realization didn’t hit me until I was ready to make the final draw on my construction loan.

When I saw where the project was at that point, I nearly choked. I was already close to reaching my financial limit and there was still work to be done. What had I gotten myself into? How was I going to pay the mortgage with so many cost overruns?

Little Things Add Up

What frustrated me most is that I shouldn’t have fallen for it. I’m a smart guy. I live on a budget. I understand the principle that little things add up over time. A few bucks for lunch today isn’t much. But buying lunch every day of the week amounts to an awful lot of money at the end of the month.

It should have dawned on me that adding new features was pulling money from my budget. Why didn’t it? Because I was so enamored with the idea of building the perfect house that I couldn’t get past my own dreams. All I could see was my visions of what the finished project would look like. I didn’t look beyond the stainless-steel fixtures and ceramic tile floors to see the dollar signs underneath.

Feature creep almost killed my new house. I was able to work things out, so thank goodness for that. But if I ever do this again, I may have to hire the Janiko Group to stop me from winding up in the poor house.