Situations That Might Trigger a Change Order Request

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The reasons behind a change order might vary from project to project. Sometimes due to scope changes or unforeseen conditions, these situations might prompt you to request additional time and funds in order to complete the new contractual obligations. 

Change orders, sometimes are a headache when the complexity and timeframe of the requested addition have schedule constraints. Change order management should form part of every contract and a good project management should be able to navigate and understand all contract documents.

Many of these changes can lead to legal battles, disputes, and arbitration.

Drawings Errors and/or Omissions

The most common situation for change orders can be errors and omissions in the project scope. Inadequate details, misrepresentation or simply avoidance to prepare a complete set of detailed drawings can lead to serious change order requests.

Sometimes inaccurate details and misrepresenting the exact environment in which the construction will be held at can also lead to change order claims. Be sure to review all contract documents and verify that the owner provided information is accurate and is referencing to the latest standards and specs.

Design Changes

Several outer factors can lead us to start a construction project without a complete scope of the project and start the construction without final drawings. This type of error is also common on design-build projects, where the on-going process of design can induce to work stoppage or produce an economic impact on the project.

Design changes can lead to stopping work orders, and major changes that can even cause labor issues due to delays in project execution. Be sure to review some formulas that can be useful when calculating overhead costs.

Inaccurate Specifications Can Lead to Change Orders

Sometimes the drawing asks for one product but the specs call for another.

This situation is very common on construction projects where the drawings are assigned to different consultants, each one of them acting on their own, without any kind of direction from a team leader.

This leaves the contractor with the difficult task of assuming and quoting on one article, but when the installation is going to be made, the owner, requires another article to be installed, instead of the one that you have already quoted.

Unforeseen Conditions

How many times do you have to complete a soil boring? Soil problems, in particular, are the most common problems with unforeseen conditions. Soil studies can lead you to expect some conditions based on specific testing but as the soil profile vary, it might present additional challenges and soil types throughout your site.

Your assumptions on the soil conditions or any other issue regarding the construction of the project can be different from the actual conditions that you find on the site. Also, if the drawings specify a certain amount or quantity of work, when, in fact, the amount of materials is almost double, then a change order must be issued.

Substitutions Could be Problematic

This is normally a contractor’s idea to substitute material when he cannot get the specified materials or there is a shortage of supplies.

This is kind of different because it can lead to another issue: a credit will be asked if the material cost is less, or sometimes the contractor will have to make up the difference in costs between materials and/or products.

Sometimes, the owner also asks for upgrades during the construction process, in this case, you must submit a change order request requesting extra compensation and time associated with the proposed modifications.