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Three Helpful Hints To Avoid Change Orders

Change Orders. We all dread that unexpected call from a contractor saying your project is going to cost more, take longer or, has to stop completely.

In construction, a change order is a contracted change to the construction scope of work, overall project design, or schedule. But how do you avoid such surprises before your project starts?

Here are three helpful hints to avoid costly change-orders on your project.

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1. Consider the Need to Consult with a Licensed Architect or Engineer

A trained Engineer or Architect can be all the difference in the World on a project that is large in scope or disturbs structural elements of your building. If your project requires permits, you will be required to enlist a licensed Architect or Engineer to draw up plans and specify materials. Knowing this ahead of time will help your project move more smoothly.

If your project is a reconstruction of a previous building (i.e. fire or flood reconstruction) and there are no changes to the building plan, you can provide bidding contractors with the as-built plans for the project. As-built plans are usually on file with your local municipality.

By having your General Contractor create their cost estimates and proposals from your plans, you will be able to better assess the project budget.

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2. Assess Your Entire Scope Prior To Getting Bids

Make it easy for your General Contractor by communicating what renovation work is needed. If you are renovating interior units, perhaps put together a spreadsheet of selected materials and the scope of work is helpful. If you are unsure about the root cause of your problem (i.e. roof leak, water penetration), having as-builts on hand will help a GC determine what elements of your structure are failing.

It’s important to understand that some projects may still go through a change order process if the cause for the existing issue is not immediately known until demolition work begins.


3. Make Sure Your Contractor Estimates Cover Your Entire Scope

When comparing bids from prospective General Contractors, it’s important to confirm if the GC covered your intended scope in their proposals. Go through the estimate line-by-line to ensure each necessary labor or material item is reflected in the proposal breakdown.

If there is an allowance for an area of the scope, make sure your GC breaks down what you get for the amount.