How to Mitigate Change Orders

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When you are building a custom home, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. This includes everything from cabinetry to flooring materials to the colors you want your countertops to be. All the finishing touches require the construction company to order the necessary materials and then schedule for both delivery and installation. If there are any types of construction or design changes, such as you want to add or remove a skylight  you want to communicate this as early as possible to mitigate a potential change order.


There is a very specific contracted scope of work which may dictate  the details of how change orders are handled, and if  modifications are made on the field, it can be both time-consuming and expensive. This means that if one closet is decided, and opted for another during construction, modifications may need to be made to blueprints, new parts ordered, framing revised to accommodate the new spec, and new lead times considered. A moments change can be a tipping point.


Look at Everything


Ultimately, it comes down to needing to look at absolutely everything. Before shovel hits the ground, you want to make sure that there is a contractor in place to work on preconstruction during the design development to take a holistic look at design, constructibility, and items that may cause potential changes.


Be sure the right engineers are in place, contractor bids are made, and the decisions on materials are all completed prior to work getting started. Materials must be ordered with enough procurement time, and if decisions are not made in time and new materials need to be ordered or time is lost, it is likely going to result in the need to issue a change order.


Ask for samples of materials, which will allow you to understand quality as well as color. This goes for countertops, carpeting, hardwood floors, paint, windows and doors. A collaborative team during preconstruction between Owner, Contractor and Architect can help you come to a shared understanding of what you can expect before hand for fewer surprises during construction.