Managing Change Orders

A change order in construction is a document used to record an amendment to the original construction contract. They create a record of services either added or removed, along with the cost of those services. Few construction projects go from start to finish without a change. The ability to manage changes in a formal, organized fashion is imperative to successfully control costs within budget, avoid disputes, and keep the project on schedule.

A Construction Manager’s role should first start in the preconstruction phase to reduce the need for change orders during construction. They should:

  • Be involved during the Design Phase – A good Construction Manager will study the design drawings as they are progressing and provide recommendations for better construction means and methods, as well as identify areas of conflict and overlap. All of these, if not addressed, can cause change orders to arise during the construction phase.
  • Create a Scope of Work for each bid package – A defined scope of work summary should be made for each trade contractor bidding the project. By clearly defining each trade’s scope of work, and including that narrative in the specification, the opportunity for unnecessary change orders is reduced or eliminated.

When a change order is needed, the item will first be assigned as a “Potential Change Order (PCO)”. After thorough review and adjusting for any discrepancies, it will then be submitted to the Owner and Architect for review. No work should begin until the Owner provides written authorization for the change order to be implemented.

Having this change order process in place helps manage expectations of everyone involved in the project, making sure everyone is on the same page with how change orders are to be initiated and processed.

Riley has extensive experience drafting and implementing successful change management and change order procedure plans. Working with the design team, we develop and implement a formal change management process for each project that incorporates a thorough tracking system for change orders. Contact us for more information.