The Most Expensive Wildlife You’ll Never See

Estimated read time 2 min read

The Elusive ‘Unforeseen Circumstance’ in Infrastructure Development 

Ah, infrastructure development. A noble pursuit fraught with challenges and…well, let’s face it, the occasional infrastructure-dwelling monster. Okay, maybe not a beast, but the ever-present threat of unforeseen circumstances can wreak havoc on even the most meticulously crafted cost estimate.

What exactly are these elusive “unforeseen circumstances”? Think of them as the majestic yet budget-busting creatures of the infrastructure world. They can take many forms:

  • The “Sleeping Dragon of Geology”: Subsurface surprises, such as hidden rock formations or unexpected water tables, can shock your budget and project timeline.
  • The “Endangered Species of Historical Artefact”: Unearthing a buried historical treasure is exciting, but halting construction and factoring in preservation costs can be a financial headache.
  • The “Migratory Flock of Environmental Regulations”: New environmental regulations can swoop in mid-project, necessitating additional measures and, you guessed it, extra costs.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO), the UK government’s spending watchdog, found that around 70% of infrastructure projects in the UK encounter unforeseen circumstances [NAO report on infrastructure delivery]. 

So, how do we tame these budgetary beasts?

  • Embrace Thorough Investigations: While not always foolproof, conducting detailed site surveys and environmental assessments can help uncover potential surprises before they derail your project.
  • Build in Buffer Zones: A little wiggle room in your budget goes a long way. Factoring in a contingency reserve for unforeseen circumstances can be a lifesaver (and budget saver) in the long run.
  • Flexibility is Key: The ability to adapt to changing situations is crucial. While sticking to the plan is essential, preparing to adjust course when necessary can minimise the impact of unexpected challenges.

While unforeseen circumstances might be the most elusive wildlife you encounter, with some planning and flexibility, you can keep them from turning your project into an endangered species (of budget).

Share your encounters with the “unforeseen circumstance” fauna in the comments! What are some of the most unexpected challenges you’ve faced with infrastructure projects? Did you navigate them without blowing the budget, or did things get a little “Jurassic Park”-esque?

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