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Change Orders

September 15, 20223 min read

Change Orders


I would first like to address a common misconception that contractors love change orders.  Please stop me while I shake my head and snark at that notion.  I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that contractors love them.  I would have at least a quarter :)


Truth be told, we perform change orders out of a sense of obligation to give homeowners added elements to their projects that were not clearly laid out from the beginning.  Sometimes it's a cool feature funded by money saved elsewhere.  Sometimes they are items completely missed during the planning phase and come about due to unforeseen conditions, or simply a changed mind.  Either way, we are simply trying to accommodate the wishes or whims of a customer.  


The challenge of accepting more work on a project and during a project is time or product.  I chose to run a tight but efficient schedule which helped in keeping my operating costs lower than running all over the place with no schedule to keep.  It does not matter when a change happens there are always consequences to them.  I imagine that most people would assume by the word “consequences” I would mean money.  I am referring to not only cost but to time.  Costs that could end up being a consequence could be mobility for example.  If a product does not show up during my normal flow and I have to stop work to wait for it or come back another time to perform that work, it naturally is safe to assume that there is additional movement of equipment and labor to perform that work.  The costs associated with that are a consequence of the change.  How do I schedule when work and product are delayed and not in the normal flow?


Regardless of the cost implications of a change and especially if there is no cost burden, I would still issue a no-cost change order with the caveat that it could impact time.  I do this out of habit as I worked in many situations that had liquidated damages if the project went over a certain time.  The no-cost change order could also address lost time in the event of weather shutdowns or other shutdowns like we experienced the last couple years.  A no-cost change order could also be issued for a difference of opinions of finish.  An example of that would be an exterior sidewalk I placed for an owner.  That owner insisted on a smooth trowel and not a broomed finish.  I strongly felt that this was a safety hazard and although it did not go against any code, I chose to issue a no-cost change order to the decision.  


Long story very short…change orders happen and contractors don’t always love them.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this... Especially if you disagree.

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Travis Rohrer, C3 Project Pros

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