Understanding Change Order Requests

Problems are a pretty big part of construction businesses, and so are change orders.
The construction industry is a cornerstone of the national economy. It is comprised of thriving companies that operate with the intention of growth and customization at every step. In that sense, change orders and its challenges become a noticeable element in construction work.
At some point or the other, they appear like an uninvited guest. It is inevitable for more than one-third (around 35%) of construction businesses to experience them frequently.
For a successful business with the least problems, the best strategy is to understand change order requests, stay prepared for them, and then learn how to handle them.

What is a Change Order Request in Construction?

A contract is agreed upon and signed before beginning the construction project. Sometimes, because of unexpected reasons, projects deviate from the expected course.
A change can involve rescheduling the project completion or making changes to its design or scope. A change order, when requested, usually comes with an effect over the cost.
A request to make amendments in the original contract is never unidirectional. It includes the prime owner, prime contractor, and subcontractors (one or more) to make changes in the actual agreement.
Besides time, money, and tolerance come in parallel with ensuring the change order is approved by all parties.

What Leads to Change Orders?

Change orders occur for many reasons. Natural reasons include the weather or a natural calamity, but we humans tend to make errors too. Underestimating the timeframe, an error in design, or a change in project scope are some of the reasons that might lead to change order requests.

  • Faulty Drawings – errors in drawings is the most common cause of change order requests. The drawings can be ambiguous and missing details or misrepresented. To avoid this problem, the original contract should be reviewed carefully, and all the information provided must abide by the current standards.
  • Change in Design – it is very common for contractors to start projects when the designs are still ongoing. This leads to crests and troughs in the original contract.
  • Inadequate Soil Study – a mistake while studying the type of the site's soil leads to many challenges. A complete soil boring should be performed to prevent soil condition problems.
  • Specification Conflict – sometimes, there is a conflict between the material at the site required and the material recommended in the drawings. This happens when multiple consultants are working on the drawings without supervision.
  • Unavailability of Supplies – sometimes some equipment or supplies are unavailable due to their shortage. This results in replacing the originally mentioned supplies with the new ones. The contract then needs to be altered, and a change of orders is requested to upgrade the cost difference.

How are Change Orders Requests Handled?

The construction project management looks and handles all the change order requests. The management specializes in tools and techniques needed to handle all construction businesses. From pre-design to design and construction to post-construction, project management is involved. Bridgit Solutions, the top-rated construction management software that optimizes workforce management and simplifies punch lists and inspection, provides a comprehensive guide to construction project management.
The project manager includes all the new details and changes in the change order request form and the cost to be issued for the new task. The change order then undergoes agreement and becomes part of the original agreement.
The construction change order request form templates can be easily found online. The template makes working easier. With the pre-designed templates, the cost, project schedule, terms, and conditions are effortless to update. Some websites also provide custom-generated forms.
The subcontractor change order request form is the change order entirely between the subcontractor and the contractor. The form includes original agreement terms and later changes. These forms are also available on the internet and come with customization features. This makes work hassle-free.

Tips for Change Order Conflicts

It is unlikely for a dispute to not occur when a change order is requested. The contractor and the project owner will often be in disagreement about the changes because it costs more money. Some tips are sure to be kept in mind the next time a change order happens.

  • Consider determining whether the change order requires a real-time adjustment. Go through the fieldwork orders, RFIs feedbacks, pre-bid documents, and the course of dealings of the parties.
  • Proceed only when the change of orders is in writings. If the contractor does not get the written change order request, he should consider it waived.
  • Ensure that change orders are received by the subcontractors too. The change order is not automatic, and everyone involved should get the change orders.

Improving Change Order Management

A lot of time and money is wasted on change orders. If change order management is efficient, these resources can be saved.
To avoid wasting resources on change orders, a company needs to improve its management and communication skills, use better and upgraded technology in the construction industry, and adopt enhanced data collection strategies.

  • It is better to visualize the project in the design phase before executing the project. Modern-day technology like Building Information Modeling (BIM) provides precise visualization to architects, designers, and engineers. BIM also helps to analyze precisely the impact of the changes that occur during construction.
  • Technology can also help enhance communication among the team. Any update made using specially designed software helps update the entire team working on the project.
  • Collaboration is the core element of any project. For a project to go with minimum to no change order requests, collaboration in the entire team must be made effective in the early stages. From owners to contractors, subcontractors to project members, and even end-users; including everyone in the design phase promotes a healthy project.
  • Data collection practices should be made better. The use of advanced technology plays a great role in providing accurate data. The more information available, the better it is for project managers to reduce the project's cost and timeframe.

Final Words
The change order requests are the pain points of all the construction businesses, yet they are destined to occur most of the time. Having a prolific project management team helps to dilute the pain.

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