Construction Change Order

Change Orders: Extra Work vs. Additional Work

Change orders are essential in the construction industry, and every contractor must be ready when there is a change in plans. In this blog, we’ll look at some specific contract language in change orders: extra work vs. additional work.

What’s a change order?

A construction change order is necessary when work requested to be performed by the owner constitutes a change to the original plans and specifications that were the basis of the contract. Almost every construction contract has change order provisions that require a written change order signed by the owner or general contractor in order for the subcontractor to get paid for doing work beyond the scope of the contract.

What’s the difference between “extra work” and “additional work” in a construction contract?

There are times when the parties disagree on whether the additional work is included in the original contract or is in addition to the scope of the original contract. When faced with this situation, contractors must be aware of the difference between “extra work” and “additional work.”

  • Extra work is work arising outside of and independent of the contract, something not required in its performance.
  • Additional work is required in the performance of the contract and without which it could not be carried out[1].

This is one of the many reasons having a comprehensive understanding of the contract and the scope of work is essential. Classifying the work is often a contested matter and must be addressed before any work is to be performed. The owner might take the position that the work is included in the contract terms and not a change to the contract. The contractor might take the contrary belief that the work is not within the contract and justifies an increase to the contract price. If the change order is not agreed upon before the work is performed, you may find yourself litigating the dispute.

Always read and understand a contract before you sign

To protect yourself, you must ALWAYS refer back to the original contract and the agreed scope of work BEFORE performing any additional work that may be considered outside the originally agreed scope of work.

This blog is part of our 2020 Mastering the Subcontract series. Come back each week as we deep dive and pull apart everything you need to know about a subcontract.


[1] City of Houston v. L. J. Fuller, Inc., 311 S.W.2d 285, 290 (Tex. Civ. App. Houston 1958)see also Southwestern Bell Tel. Co. v. Chrisman Const. Co., Inc., 529 S.W.2d 586, 588 (Tex. Civ. App. Houston 1st Dist. 1975), writ granted, (May 26, 1976) and writ dismissed by agreement, (June 16, 1976); Brown-McKee, Inc. v. W. Beef, Inc., 538 S.W.2d 840, 844 (Tex. Civ. App. Amarillo 1976), writ refused n.r.e., (Nov. 10, 1976).

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