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.