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Have you ever signed a contract for what feels like a good price, then watched helplessly during the job as your costs rose far above what you projected? Your early optimism turned to frustration and despair as profits drifted uncontrollably away. This familiar, disheartening scenario points up the fact that every job includes some unpredictable costs that can easily grow out of control. Like a puzzle, some parts of the jobs can be fitted into place easily, while others remain a mystery until work has progressed. Reducing risk and gaining control in the game of contracting often depends on being able to identify and separate out from the whole as many pieces of the puzzle as possible. One of the most powerful control tools for