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Avoiding Change Orders, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

Change Orders contribute greatly to both cost overruns and strained contractor relations, and they can be controlled. Unfortunately, they cannot always be avoided, so you should always include a Contingency in the project budget to cover the inevitable "scope creep", inaccuracies in the bid documents and unforeseen conditions. Changes often are a result of end users not providing adequate information to the facility staff or architect about their requirements. Prevention may be as simple as good team communications and asking enough questions during the programming and design phases. Requiring end users to sign documents for each phase of the project will assure they take reviews seriously and buy-in to the decisions. Thorough reviews of final construction bid documents are also critical. Correction of drawing and specification errors, omissions and conflicts between architectural and engineering packages can also significantly minimize Change Orders. Because changes generally cost about three times the value and play havoc with the project schedule, if possible, try to delay optional work until after completion. Often the perceived problem will go away as the end users adjust to the space.

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