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Making the Best of Change Orders, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

The dreaded Change Order. Try as we will to avoid them, they still appear. Drawing errors and omissions, unforeseen conditions, unbuildable details, confusing specifications, inconsistencies between drawing sheets, building code misinterpretations, ADA goofs, Owner changes, the list goes on. The cards are stacked against the Project Manager who wants a job without Change Orders. To get the best results, first determine if the item really is a change. The majority of change proposals are open to interpretation, and many can be easily eliminated. Study the construction documents and search for information related to the issue. If an item should have been assumed or if the project cannot be built without the item, it should be rejected. If at least one of the related drawings or details shows the correct solution, the PM should question it. Regarding code issues, Contractors know building codes as well as Architects, and most contract documents place the burden on them to comply. In addition, it is a standard of the industry for Contractors to raise questions about contract documents problems during the bid period. If not, they are obligated to build like the Architect interprets the documents. In addition, look for an "order of precedence" list in the construction contract which shows which construction documents have priority in the event of discrepancies. Change issues often require evaluation of a complex set of circumstances and documentation, and playing his/her cards right.

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