7 Ways to Minimize Change Order Frustrations 

By: Margaret Wood 4/6/2023 7:23 P.M.

Change Orders Are Not Always A Bad Thing

As the project manager, it’s important to establish clear expectations and limitations with the GC or owner. This can be accomplished through a clear statement of work (SOW) that addresses the scope of work to be performed, location, timeline, deliverable schedule, quality control, change orders processed, authorization, and payment process.

Here we provide 7 ways to minimize change order frustration, confusion, and delays.

  1. Provide a Clear Statement of Work (SOW); Establish CO Processes. It’s important to stress that material costs cannot be guaranteed after a certain date and that labor costs increase significantly with change orders. You can prevent misunderstandings and unauthorized changes by establishing clear processes for change orders in advance.
  1. Reduce the Number of Change Orders. During the pre-construction phase, it’s important to conduct due diligence by reviewing plan pages and all drawings for any irregularities or lack of clarity. Communicating your concerns with the GC or owner can help clarify ambiguities and resolve issues in advance, which can help minimize the number of change orders and interruptions to the project. By being proactive, you can also provide more accurate estimates.
  1. Prioritize Change Orders. As a project manager, you should be ready to address changes and communicate them to the teams, contractors, estimators, and principals. By prioritizing change orders, you can save time and money and cut down on the number of change orders. Integrated products can help you build a comprehensive pre-construction platform to track each project site, perform new takeoffs, recalculate estimates, and create new proposals quickly.
  1. Coordinate All Project Elements. Coordination, collaboration, and transparency are key to reducing the number of change orders. If the contract documents do not include sufficient details, it’s difficult to price the project properly. Uncoordinated designs among contractors can also lead to problems. Reviewing reasonable assumptions and considering other contractors before submitting plans for bidding is important. Without proper coordination, structural components may impede the installation of ductwork for the HVAC, leading to change orders.
  1. Managing Quality Control. To help minimize change orders, quality control, inspection, and verification processes should be defined for all stages of a project, including the design process, engineering changes, inspection reports, specifications, technical documentation, testing, and other processes within the contract.
  1. Contractor Compliance with the SOW. It’s important to determine early in the process that all goods and services provided by subcontractors meet or exceed contract requirements and that all federal contractor and subcontractor legislative requirements are met. If not, contract termination could result.
  1. Fostering Collaboration. Frequent meetings are one of the most effective ways to minimize change orders. By keeping the channels of communication open and addressing issues weekly, you can handle them before they become delayed. Project management software is also a good investment for a construction company, allowing for the digital sharing of data, photos, and reports among all stakeholders. While these precautions may not eliminate all change orders, following these guidelines will reduce the number of change orders and make handling the ones you get much easier.

By following these guidelines, construction project teams can work together transparently to identify and resolve problems before they lead to costly change orders. This will help minimize frustrations and keep the number of COs to a minimum.


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