Unprecedented cost escalation, delayed start-ups, local townspeople blocking the access road – are we really in control of our projects or are we at the whims of capricious spirits? Things go wrong in every project, however the level of preparation and skills of the Owner’s project management team make the difference between an embarrassing debacle and short term nuisance. So what can go wrong, what are the typical impacts and how unexpected are these events? Is it possible to prepare for the “unexpected” without unreasonable expenditures on contingency planning? Common project challenges, and likely root causes, will be discussed along with some highly sanitized real world examples.