Change orders can often cause friction between the owner and contractor. Rarely do construction projects go exactly as planned, especially if the project takes a long time to complete. Owners may choose to make changes to the construction, unexpected costs may arise during the construction process, and a myriad of other things can change during the course of the project. We want you to know how to deal with these change orders.
First and foremost, recognize that no one party can issue a change order. A change order needs to be agreed upon and usually requires a signed document indicating that both parties are in agreement about the change.
Second, recognize that change orders are not necessarily bad. If both parties maintain open and regular communication, change orders can be discussed and completed with little friction. In some cases, change orders can cause problems between parties. We suggest a few ways to minimize the amount of time determining change orders.
If you are the contractor, you will want to include a generous, mutually-decided-upon change allowance in the construction contract. You will want to provide a detailed, all-inclusive bid that accounts for any and all materials, and any special circumstances of the project. The more preparation you do beforehand, the better off both parties will be.
If you are the owner and anticipate changes, make sure to appropriately plan for those changes and include a generous change allowance in the contract.
Even after discussing and agreeing upon a change, make sure to take into consideration any interested parties whose schedules might be affected by the change (i.e., subcontractors or suppliers).
Did an inspector change the contract? See our page on Constructive Changes
We can help you deal with issues arising from poorly constructed change orders and will represent you in mediation or litigation, if necessary.