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Change Orders: Document Everything and Be Detailed

Construction Change Order in Writing
In this blog, we’ll examine three common questions related to construction change orders. Our most important advice when it comes to change orders: document everything and be detailed about it!

In this blog, we’ll examine three common questions related to construction change orders. Our most important advice when it comes to change orders: document everything and be detailed about it!

Do change orders have to be in writing?

As a general rule, change orders should always be in writing, but anyone who works in the construction industry knows that this is not always possible. We all know that the primary goal of project managers and superintendents is to get the job done to satisfy the owner, and time is of the essence.

There are times when the formal construction change order process interferes with their goal; therefore, it is not uncommon for them to ignore written change order requirements and instead opt for handshakes and oral promises to be made concerning payment. When this occurs, you should confirm the change order details in writing via email or a letter. When sending the correspondence, be sure to send it in a manner that assures the other party received it. For example, send your letter via fax and retain the fax confirmation page or use certified mail.

What should be included in your change order?

Change orders in construction vary depending on the project. Many times, there may be a standardized change order form for all of the project’s change orders. However, as discussed above, it is not uncommon for change orders to be given verbally. When this happens, contractors should draft a written change order that includes detailed information, including:

  • A clear description of the requested change compared to the original contract or bid;
  • Itemized documentation of any subcontractor costs;
  • A summary by the contractor of the total costs of the proposed change;
  • A statement regarding the impact on the project completion date; and
  • A summary of the promise of payment.

Negotiate Better Subcontracts

At The Cromeens Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge and understanding of construction contract laws and are licensed in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and California. We are often able to solve contract disputes for our clients through informal negotiations, mediation, or arbitration. Work with us to equip yourself with the ability to properly evaluate your risks before you sign and negotiate your next subcontract with greater confidence and ease.

In this blog, we’ll examine three common questions related to construction change orders. Our most important advice when it comes to change orders: document everything and be detailed about it!

Do change orders have to be in writing?

As a general rule, change orders should always be in writing, but anyone who works in the construction industry knows that this is not always possible. We all know that the primary goal of project managers and superintendents is to get the job done to satisfy the owner, and time is of the essence.

There are times when the formal construction change order process interferes with their goal; therefore, it is not uncommon for them to ignore written change order requirements and instead opt for handshakes and oral promises to be made concerning payment. When this occurs, you should confirm the change order details in writing via email or a letter. When sending the correspondence, be sure to send it in a manner that assures the other party received it. For example, send your letter via fax and retain the fax confirmation page or use certified mail.

What should be included in your change order?

Change orders in construction vary depending on the project. Many times, there may be a standardized change order form for all of the project’s change orders. However, as discussed above, it is not uncommon for change orders to be given verbally. When this happens, contractors should draft a written change order that includes detailed information, including:

  • A clear description of the requested change compared to the original contract or bid;
  • Itemized documentation of any subcontractor costs;
  • A summary by the contractor of the total costs of the proposed change;
  • A statement regarding the impact on the project completion date; and
  • A summary of the promise of payment.
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